With all of the NBA’s marquee free-agents now under contracts with their new teams (I am not counting the possibility of a Russell Westbrook trade), the table is now set on what stands to be one of the most exciting NBA seasons ever. We have never seen an NBA off-season where so many difference-making stars changed teams. With no more prohibitive favorites (like we have had with the Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat super-teams over most of the last decade), which trio makes up the NBA’s best “Big Three?” Which Big Three will carry their team to post-season glory? Here are the NBA’s Top 10 Big Threes for this upcoming season based on how well the trios compliment each other’s game.
Honorable Mention: Kyrie-KD-Dinwiddie, Nets
This one isn’t really fair because the Nets will be much higher once Durant returns from a torn achilles. In the meantime, the Nets will be hard-pressed to improve much from last year’s Playoff run with now departed D’Angelo Russell. Can Kyrie get along with his teammates? Can Durant return to form post achilles or have we seen the last of peak Durant?
10. Jokic-Millsap-Murray, Nuggets
The Nuggets Big Three took a huge leap last year, leading the Nuggets back to the Playoffs and into a number two seed. Murray is still getting better and Millsap is on the decline. Can Jokic continue to improve? Will Millsap be able to hold off father time long enough to help the Nuggets make a run to the Finals?
9. Dame-CJ-Whiteside/Nurkic, Blazers
The Blazers have been a regular season team, but have not been able to get over the hump in the Playoffs. If Whiteside can get his head screwed on right, the Blazers will be a formidable foe. That said, with so many scoring wings in the West, who is guarding them? Dame and CJ will continue to hit lots of big shots, but like the Rockets, that has not yet translated into Finals appearances.
8. Kemba-Hayward-Tatum, Celtics
The Celtics’ offseason has brought a serious shakeup and time will tell if it is for the better or worse. Much of Kyrie’s production will be replaced by Kemba (without the drama) and Hayward should continue to look more like his former self. Tatum took a step backward in his second season, but still has the promise and potential to continue to improve as he enters his third season. How many teams have enough talent to lose two perennial All-Stars and still have a Big Three this good?
7. CP3-Harden-Capella, Rockets
If CP3 and Harden are still teammates when the season starts, they will make up two-thirds of the Rockets’ Big Three. Yes, Paul is starting to show his age, but he’s not chopped liver. Harden will continue to be a machine and will continue to challenge for MVP honors. Capella’s steady growth has been a great complement to Harden’s isolation game, which makes you wonder why the Rockets have been shopping him. Though drama surround them, this is still one of the game’s best Big Threes.
6. Embiid-Horford-Simmons, Sixers
The Sixers’ Big Three is as big as they get, with the shortest of the Big Three standing at 6’10”. Many will be watching to see if the Sixers’ huge lineup can succeed in today’s NBA. Embiid and Horford can spread the floor and Simmons can run the floor, but are the Sixers’ pieces compatible? From a sheer talent standpoint, it’s tough to find many Big Threes that are better. If Simmon’s can find a jump shot this offseason, this threesome can only move up.
5. Conley-Mitchell-Gobert, Jazz
The Jazz needed another shot creator to take some pressure off Mitchell and Conley is just what the doctor ordered. Conley will be a great fit on and off the floor and Mitchell will thrive as a result. Expect Mitchell to take the leap to All-Star status this season (yes, even in the West). Gobert is the greatest defender on the planet and the Jazz will again be one of the league’s stoutest defenses to go with its new, more explosive offense. No All-Star appearances for this Big Three, but expect that to change this season.
4. Giannis-Middleton-Bledsoe, Bucks
Okay, so Giannis is the majority of the reason the Bucks’ Big Three is this high, but the Bucks did brought back Giannis’s top sidekick to a max deal. Middleton is a perfect complimentary player and Bledsoe’s underrated defense fits into the team’s overall defensive strategy. Despite losing Brogdon, these three give the Bucks the inside track to return to the East Finals. With Kawhi now soaking up the sun in LA, the Raptors won’t have enough to stop them this time.
3. Steph-D-Lo-Draymond (temporarily subbing for Klay), Warriors
With the abrupt end to the Warriors dynasty in the form of the injuries to Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, followed by Durant’s departure, many are writing the Warriors off. Any time Steph Curry is on the floor, the Warriors will have a shot. Picking up D-Lo was a good consolation prize. Draymond will have a lot to prove as he will be blamed for Durant leaving. Klay’s full return will be key for the Warrior’s future successes. The Warriors will still be a Playoff team, even in the West.
2. Lebron-AD-Boogie, Lakers
Lebron will finally be officially playing his natural position, Point Guard. With Anthony Davis and Boogie Cousins at his disposal, expect Lebron to pass more and score less as a way to extend his career. If Boogie can return to form and become just an average starting Center, the Lakers are going to be one of the leagues biggest and most talented teams. If Boogie doesn’t return to form, he will be replaced in the Lakers’ Big Three by Kyle Kuzma.
1. Kawhi-George-Williams, Clippers
Kawhi and George join the game’s best Sixth Man, which will give the Clippers plenty of scoring. In additional to firepower, the Clippers might be the league’s best defensive team, with three of the league’s top three perimeter defenders. Kawhi out-Lebroned Lebron in free-agency and he may out-Lebron Lebron in the West Playoffs as well after this NBA-best two-way player has teamed with perhaps the second-best two-way player in George. The Clippers will be a tough out in the Playoffs with the style they will play.