Some of the best things in sports comes in the number three. Three strikes and you're out in baseball. Three periods in hockey to settle who wins and who loses (with the exception of overtime). Then of course, there is the "big 3" that has evolved in basketball. There have been a number of "big 3" teams that have formed over the past decade. Now of course, there were the days of the 1980's Celtics with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish along with the Lakers having Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, and James Worthy. Lately, it has been teams like the Celtics with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen and the Heat when they had LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh in the fold. It seems like having these "big 3" type of teams is an automatic formula for success within an NBA team. So what will they look like for the foreseeable future?
Some of the current "big 3" formations look like they could be coming undone while others could just be beginning before our very eyes. It is always fun to speculate via trade or free agency about which star players could come together, join forces, and compete for multiple championships. With a lot of stars on the free agency market this off-season, we look at all teams in the NBA to see where their "big 3" status is currently at. So let's make some predictions, shall we? Let's look at 10 NBA teams who could form the next big 3 and 10 who will split up soon.
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20 Form: Phoenix Suns - Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Tobias Harris
The Phoenix Suns are a team that are looking at the long term rather than the short term. They have an emerging star in Devin Booker who can put up 50, 60 points any given night, just ask the Boston Celtics. They recently took Deandre Ayton with the number one overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft out of the University of Arizona.
They could add a guy like Tobias Harris next off-season to form a very formidable "big 3".
Harris averaged close to 19 points a game between the Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Clippers last year, so he shows great promise as a scoring power forward. This trio could be very dangerous for years to come in the West.
19 Split Up: Miami Heat- Kelly Olynyk, Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic
The Miami Heat are past the prime championship years with LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. The Heat did make the playoffs last year, only to lose in the first round. They have a trio of Kelly Olynyk, Hassan Whiteside, and Goran Dragic that gives Heat fans hope for playoff runs. That hope could be dashed very quickly though. Whiteside has complained in the past about playing time during the playoffs.
A disgruntled star usually means the team will do whatever it takes to get rid of them. Whiteside could very well see himself out of Miami soon. Olynyk is locked up for three more years and Dragic for two more. But, Whiteside could be the odd man out and break up this trio.
18 Form: Indiana Pacers- Victor Oladipo, Marcus Smart, Bojan Bogdanovic
The Indiana Pacers were one of the more interesting teams in the league. They didn't have any superstars on their team going into the season. But by season's end, they were known as an extremely hard working bunch that didn't fear anybody. They took LeBron and the Cavs to seven games and saw Victor Oladipo win the Most Improved Player award. They also have Bojan Bogdanovic that is a nice complementary piece to Oladipo. They also could add a guy like Marcus Smart to the mix. Smart is known for his toughness and defensive presence. He is looking to get more money this off-season, and the Pacers can give it to him. Those three playing together can be very dangerous for the next few years.
17 Split Up: Toronto Raptors- Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka
The Toronto Raptors are a team that is running out of time to contend for championships out of the Eastern Conference. They fell in the second round of the playoffs to a sweep from the Cavs. The Raptors even went so far to fire head coach Dwayne Casey, even though he was voted Coach of the Year. The trio of Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka could be coming to an end very soon.
They each have at least two years more on their contract, but time is running out.
Toronto could even be bold enough to get rid of one of the three to go in a different direction to win a title.
16 Form: Utah Jazz - Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Enes Kanter
The Utah Jazz surprised a lot of people on many levels this year. Donovan Mitchell was one of the finalists for Rookie of the Year while head coach Quin Snyder was voted as a finalist for Coach of the Year. They also had a great role player in Joe Ingles that seemed to come into his own with a new, expanded role in Utah with the departure of Gordon Hayward.
The guy they can bring in to form a "big 3" is Enes Kanter. Kanter can provide that down low presence the Jazz need to compliment their quick and athletic core. He will only be 27 years old, so he will have good years left to play.
15 Split Up: Charlotte Hornets - Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, Malik Monk
The Charlotte Hornets are a team that could very much be in selling mode right now. They know they aren't going to win any championships within the next few years, so they might build toward the future. That is why the trio of Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, and Malik Monk will be broken up soon. Kemba Walker has been a big part of trade talks for a little while now. He even was recently involved in trade rumors to the Cleveland Cavaliers on draft night. Walker could be traded, considering this is the last year of his current deal with the Hornets. Don't be surprised when this trio breaks up.
14 Form: Sacramento Kings - Marvin Bagley III, De'Aaron Fox, Wilson Chandler
The Sacramento Kings are similar to the Phoenix Suns in the West in the sense that they are building for the future. They have Marvin Bagley III, who they just took second overall in the 2018 NBA Draft out of Duke. They also have De'Aaron Fox who was an early contender for Rookie of the Year votes.
They have the guard and the power forward, now they just need the small forward to compliment them.
That is where Wilson Chandler could come into play. He averaged 10 points per game and shot 45% from the field last season. His veteran presence along with the young development of Bagley and Fox can make for a fun trio to watch.
13 Split Up: Detroit Pistons - Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin, Reggie Jackson
The Detroit Pistons had a stretch during the first half of last season that saw them being in the talks of being a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference. That quickly went away when they missed the playoffs. They acquired Blake Griffin halfway through last season. They also have Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson to form a great trio as well. This trio could be gone very soon though.
Jackson has two more years left on his contract, which can be traded any day. Griffin and Drummond are pretty much locked up for the long term, so they most likely are not going anywhere. But if Reggie Jackson leaves, the Pistons will have to find a good guard to get both of them the ball.
12 Form: Milwaukee Bucks - Kemba Walker, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Donte DiVincenzo
Like we mentioned before, Kemba Walker could very well be on his way out of Charlotte. If he is out of Charlotte, one of the potential destinations he could end up in is Milwaukee. The Bucks have a superstar emerging in Giannis Antetokounmpo. They also recently just drafted Donte DiVincenzo. They could team up to be a young tandem that could use the services of Kemba Walker to be a trio that can wreak havoc in the Eastern Conference. Eric Bledsoe is not the answer long term for the Bucks and Walker could immediately give the Bucks a jump up to contender status. This trio would be fun to watch if it came into form.
11 Split Up: Minnesota Timberwolves - Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins
The Minnesota Timberwolves seemed to have a great future ahead of them when they acquired Jimmy Butler from the Chicago Bulls to add to the tandem of Karl-Anthony Towns along with Andrew Wiggins.
This trio got the T'Wolves a playoff berth before losing in five to the Warriors. But, this trio might not be around for much longer.
Andrew Wiggins is a free agent to be and will have a lot of suitors after him. Karl-Anthony Towns has his name thrown around in multiple trade rumors and could be traded very soon if they receive the right offer. T'Wolves fans better enjoy this trio while they can because they will not be together much longer.
10 Form: Portland Trail Blazers- Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Marcin Gortat
The Portland Trail Blazers have one of the best back courts in the NBA with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. The problem is that they don't have that veteran big man that can help them down low if for some reason both of them are having off games. One name to keep an eye on is Marcin Gortat. Gortat was recently traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, but he still has a few years left in the tank. He will be an unrestricted free agent next season, so the Trail Blazers should try to get him for a short term deal to help Lillard and McCollum and help form a trio to get excited about.
9 Split Up: Houston Rockets- James Harden, Chris Paul, Clint Capela
The Houston Rockets were one game away from upsetting the dynasty that is the Golden State Warriors. Had it not been for a Chris Paul injury, the Rockets might have pulled off the series win. Now, they have to re-focus on getting back to the Conference Finals. They better do it soon because their trio could break up. Paul is a free agent who most likely will re-sign short term with Houston, but could leave to play with LeBron when his career is almost over.
Clint Capela is a restricted free agent who could leave after next season. This dynamic trio needs to get the job done quickly before they depart in different directions later on.
8 Form: Los Angeles Lakers - LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson
This is what everyone has talked about since the day the Finals ended. The Los Angeles Lakers have put themselves in a position to have a huge off-season. They have the pieces in place to acquire the trio of LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Klay Thompson.
LeBron is now in the Western Conference and will need some help to knock off the Warriors.
Kawhi has said publicly that he'd like to go to the Lakers, and Klay Thompson will have the opportunity to finally earn a max contract when he's a free agent next summer. The Lakers have the cap space to do it and the young pieces around them to make this trio a very realistic possibility.
7 Split Up: San Antonio Spurs - Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol
The San Antonio Spurs have been a dominant force behind Gregg Popovich for a number of years. It looks like that will be coming to an end with their trio of Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol. Gasol looks to be at the end of his career, which would eliminate that piece of the trio. Aldridge would be the guy the Spurs build around. Leonard is unhappy and wants to go to the bright lights of another city. It just makes too much sense to break this trio up and start the youth movement in San Antonio sooner rather than later.
6 Form: New York Knicks - Kyrie Irving, Kristaps Porzingis, Kevin Knox
The New York Knicks have struggled recently, but they could have a bright future ahead of them. They obviously have Kristaps Porzingis who has turned into one of the NBA's most surprising big men. They have a rookie in Kevin Knox that looks to make a difference coming out of Kentucky. They also could potentially sign Kyrie Irving. Irving has said in the past he would like to play for the Knicks, despite what Celtics fans want to believe. If the Knicks signed Irving and Knox develops into a solid NBA player, basketball will be back in New York City. This is a trio that needs to happen very soon.
5 Split Up: Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony
The Oklahoma City Thunder had big expectations when they acquired Paul George and Carmelo Anthony last season. They didn't meet those expectations as they lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Utah Jazz. Now, the Thunder will look to regroup next season. But, don't look for that trio to be playing together again.
Russell Westbrook will be back and Paul George surprised everybody by signing an extension with OKC.
However, Carmelo Anthony is set to leave and the Thunder are now just trying to facilitate an exit that wouldn't hurt them on the cap.
4 Form: Boston Celtics - Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Klay Thompson
The Boston Celtics have been making move after move ever since the Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen days were over. They have put themselves in a prime position to really flourish for the next decade. They could lose Kyrie Irving after next season. One guy that could fill the void a bit is Klay Thompson. Thompson has been linked to Boston before and is in the final year of his current deal. Thompson alongside Jaylen Brown, who has grown up before out very eyes, and Jayson Tatum who was a Rookie of the Year finalist, could be a fun trio to watch for years if you love Boston.
3 Split Up: Boston Celtics - Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum
We haven't even really had a chance to see this trio together and the 2018-19 season may be our only chance. Gordon Hayward was hurt in game one of the season and Kyrie Irving was eventually lost for the season before the playoffs started. There's a very good chance Irving could leave in free agency next year, as he's almost guaranteed to be offered a max contract elsewhere. The Celtics are in prime position to contend for an NBA Championship next season, especially with LeBron removed from their path to the finals. They'd better take advantage of it while they can.
2 Form: Chicago Bulls - Anthony Davis, Lauri Markkanen, Karl-Anthony Towns
The Chicago Bulls didn't have many bright moments in the 2017-18 season but one bright spot was the emergence of rookie Lauri Markkanen. The Bulls will also have the opportunity to pursue some big names in 2019, as Anthony Davis may be looking to move on from New Orleans if their season doesn't go as planned. The Chicago native would give the Bulls a true face of their franchise. In addition, Karl-Anthony Towns has made it clear he wasn't happy in Minnesota last season and could hit the market next summer. The Bulls could turn their franchise around in a hurry.
1 Split Up: Golden State Warriors - Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson
The Golden State Warriors have enjoyed being the newest NBA dynasty, winning three of the last four years. Their run has been historic and looks like it will happen for at least one more season. After that, the demolition could begin. Curry looks like he is in a position to be a Warrior for life.
Thompson is in the final deal of his contract and might either get traded or sign elsewhere when the 2018-19 season is over.
Durant can very easily move on like he did once when he left Oklahoma City. The bottom line is all dynasties must end and it looks like the Warriors dynasty is going to end very soon with the splitting of their "big 3".
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