The law of the land in the NBA has always made it obvious that you need at least one Superstar player to contend. Most teams to win the NBA Championship have had two top tier stars on their roster. Combinations like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen and LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have led their respective teams to incredible success. The current landscape of the NBA has seen this evolve into an even bigger deal. Stars are forming super teams together and now there needs to be three top stars on a roster to truly contend. Some rosters even have four All-Stars at this point.
Every team is hoping to form a “big three” that will give them the core needed to win it all. We'll look at what each NBA team is working with this upcoming season. Unfortunately, the Boston Celtics have already been struck with injury losing Gordon Hayward for the year to hurt their big three. Most other teams will have their ideal big three in play as the season goes on. This complete ranking of all thirty teams is in order from worst to best “big three” combinations for the 2017-2018 NBA season.
30 Atlanta Hawks: Dennis Schroder/Kent Bazemore/Ersan Ilyasova
The Atlanta Hawks are clearly looking to tank in hopes of getting a high draft pick. We have seen the Hawks lose Paul Millsap, Al Horford, Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver and DeMarre Carroll all over the past few years after this core led them to 60 wins. Atlanta failed to pose a legitimate threat to the Cleveland Cavaliers and have decided to blow it up.
29 Chicago Bulls: Zach LaVine/Robin Lopez/Lauri Markkanen
No team looks worse overall right now than the Chicago Bulls. Chicago sent Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a deal that got them Zach LaVine and very little else. LaVine is talented, but it looks horrible when the best you get for an All-Star is a promising player coming off a serious injury. It remains to be seen when LaVine will make his season debut for the Bulls.
28 Phoenix Suns: Devin Booker/Josh Jackson/TJ Warren
The Phoenix Suns have already made headlines for the worst of reasons in this early season. Eric Bledsoe posted a message on social media stating he didn’t want to be on the Suns. Their best player is now sitting at home waiting on a trade. Phoenix decided to fire head coach Earl Watson and keep Bledsoe out of the locker room until a move is confirmed.
27 Sacramento Kings: De'Aaron Fox/Zach Randolph/Buddy Hield
The Sacramento Kings are trying to find a middle ground between their veterans and young talent. Sacramento added Zach Randolph, George Hill and Vince Carter all in free agency this past summer. Randolph is the only one that appears to be a heavily featured member of their offense. Rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox already looks impressive enough to pass Hill as their best point guard.
26 Brooklyn Nets: D'Angelo Russell/Rondae Hollis-Jefferson/DeMarre Carroll
Opening night was heartbreaking for the Brooklyn Nets when Jeremy Lin suffered a terrible injury. You could see the pain and heartbreak in Lin’s eyes when yelling “I’m done” to his teammates. Brooklyn had the dream of running a fast paced offense with both guards Lin and D’Angelo Russell playing alongside each other. We would only see them together for one game as Lin is now out all season.
25 New York Knicks: Kristaps Porzingis/Tim Hardaway Jr./Enes Kanter
Another New York team struggling to find talent is the Knicks. Following the offseason trade sending Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kristaps Porzingis is now the official face of the franchise. Porzingis shows tremendous skill and is likely going to be an All-Star fixture for many years going forward if nothing changes regarding his progression.
24 Dallas Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki/Harrison Barnes/Dennis Smith Jr.
The Dallas Mavericks are off to the worst start in the NBA, but they actually don’t have a terrible big three. Dirk Nowitzki is clearly at the end of his career. Despite being limited from what we remember him as, Nowitzki can still contribute and play well in limited minutes. Harrison Barnes is a talented guy that adds to a winning team as seen with the Golden State Warriors. Dennis Smith Jr. looks like a promising rookie that can excel in the NBA.
23 Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball/Brook Lopez/Brandon Ingram
No team has more riding on progressing this season than the Los Angeles Lakers. It is no secret that Lakers want to add LeBron James, Paul George and any other Superstar on the free agent market next summer. Rookie Lonzo Ball and second year talent Brandon Ingram are the keys in creating a desirable roster. If they show the ability to play consistently well, the free agent Superstars will have more incentive to join.
22 Indiana Pacers: Myles Turner/Victor Oladipo/Darren Collison
The Indiana Pacers have been more successful in the early season than anyone could have expected. Indiana seemed closer to the bottom of the league heading into the season but seem respectable. Their big three gives them a chance to make the playoffs in the weak Eastern Conference. Myles Turner is only 21 years old but is already one of the better centers with a ceiling to get better.
21 Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons/Joel Embiid/Markelle Fultz
Philadelphia 76ers fans trusted the process and now have three very interesting young talents. Ben Simmons seems to be the favorite to win Rookie of the Year. Following missing a full year due to injury, Simmons looks incredible and may be the best rookie to enter the NBA since LeBron James. Joel Embiid also looks great for Philadelphia as the center any time he is on the court.
20 Memphis Grizzlies: Marc Gasol/Mike Conley/Tyreke Evans
The Memphis Grizzlies have had one of the better big three combinations for years with Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Zach Randolph. Their depth was always the issue along with a few teams having way more upside with their star trios. Memphis has hit a decline after losing Randolph in free agency. Gasol and Conley now have even less depth on their team.
19 Detroit Pistons: Reggie Jackson/Avery Bradley/Andre Drummond
One team with a much underrated big three combination is the Detroit Pistons. All three members have a great deal of talent but seem to be underappreciated in the NBA world. Andre Drummond is very good in the post and a pretty good center if you can overlook horrible free throw shooting. Avery Bradley made his way to Detroit in the offseason and was a major reason for the Boston Celtics’ success last season.
18 Charlotte Hornets: Kemba Walker/Dwight Howard/Nicolas Batum
The Charlotte Hornets are one of the teams in the NBA that can really go either way. We can realistically see them making the playoffs in the Eastern Conference and posing a threat to someone in the first round. However, they could also end up being one of the worst teams in the league in the lottery. They at least have three talented players leading them.
17 Utah Jazz: Rudy Gobert/Ricky Rubio/Derrick Favors
Ricky Rubio joining the Utah Jazz and Gordon Hayward leaving in free agency completely changed the landscape of the team. The team has a more fun style with Rubio running the offense, but the overall ceiling is definitely lower. Utah fans still have a fun big three to root for in hopes of making noise. Rudy Gobert is already one of the premiere centers in the league and only gets better.
16 Denver Nuggets: Nikola Jokic/Paul Millsap/Jamal Murray
The Denver Nuggets quietly have two superb players and a great young core behind them to compete for some relevance in the lower tier of the Western Conference playoff pictures. Nikola Jokic is already one of the top centers in the NBA and is only getting better as time goes on. The overall play of Jokic gives him the chance to be an All-Star in the stacked West.
15 Miami Heat: Hassan Whiteside/Goran Dragic/Dion Waiters
The Miami Heat started the current “Big Three” era in basketball when bringing together LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Miami only winning two rings with the combination before it fell apart seems disappointing now that the rest of the league have similar teams now. The Heat have an entertaining middle of the pack trio right now.
14 Toronto Raptors: DeMar DeRozan/Kyle Lowry/Serge Ibaka
Serge Ibaka being traded to the Toronto Raptors last season made the fans believe they would now have a contending roster led by a top tier Big Three. Unfortunately, Toronto would get swept in the second round of the playoffs and prove to still be a phony contender in the LeBron James Conference. They still have an impressive and talented Big Three despite failing to meet expectations.
13 Orlando Magic: Nikola Vucevic/Aaron Gordon/Evan Fournier
The Orlando Magic appear to be the most improved team in the NBA this season if we believe their first few weeks of play. All three members of their Big Three have stepped their games up to bring the team to a hot star. Nikola Vucevic has quietly put up great numbers for years and remains one of the better big men now that he has improved his outside shot.
12 San Antonio Spurs: Kawhi Leonard/LaMarcus Aldridge/Tony Parker
The past two decades have been dominated by the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference teams. You can guarantee the Spurs will have a great regular season every single year and be a threat heading into the postseason. One shocking aspect to San Antonio’s start is realizing Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker have yet to play a game.
11 Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard/CJ McCollum/Jusuf Nurkic
Fans of the Portland Trail Blazers have benefited from having an exciting back court to watch with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Both men shoot the three-pointer consistently and can dominate the offense from anywhere on the court. Jusuf Nurkic has stepped up as their center to become a solid third man to pair with the two superb guards.
10 Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin/DeAndre Jordan/Danilo Gallinari
The Los Angeles Clippers losing Chris Paul in the offseason should have hurt them but they seem to be better. Blake Griffin is the biggest reason for this as he is on a mission entering the season. Most basketball fans have forgotten about Griffin over the past few seasons with lackluster play and injuries taking him down a peg. Griffin being the face of the franchise again has given him more incentive to ball out again.
9 Boston Celtics: Kyrie Irving/Al Horford/Jaylen Brown
Gordon Hayward going down with an injury on opening night completely changed the Boston Celtics season. They would have been a top five big three combination, but they are now ninth. Hayward going down has given more minutes to some of the younger players on the roster. Jaylen Brown already is stepping up and appears bound for a breakout season.
8 Washington Wizards: John Wall/Bradley Beal/Otto Porter
The Washington Wizards were forced to make a franchise changing decision this summer. Otto Porter signed a max contract offer sheet with the Brooklyn Nets. Washington could have either let him sign with Brooklyn or give him their final max contract under the salary cap. The Wizards ended up paying Porter believing this big three will be enough to make the NBA Finals out of the East.
7 Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo/Khris Middleton/Jabari Parker
Giannis Antetokounmpo has improved the Milwaukee Bucks standing within the NBA all on his own. The video game numbers of Antetokounmpo are actually real in today’s NBA. Many pundits believe he will be the favorite to win the MVP Award this season and could progress into the player that soon passes LeBron James as the best overall player.
6 New Orleans Pelicans: DeMarcus Cousins/Anthony Davis/Jrue Holiday
One of the biggest questions entering the NBA season was regarding how DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis would play together. They struggled on the court together last season in limited time when Cousins was traded to the Pelicans. The season is early so far but we have seen enough to know that the offense can work for New Orleans with both Cousins and Davis putting up massive numbers.
5 Houston Rockets: James Harden/Chris Paul/Eric Gordon
An opposite story to the New Orleans Pelicans is the mystery of the Houston Rockets. Chris Paul joining them in the offseason led to questions wondering if both ball-dominant guards of Paul of James Harden could work together. We still don’t know the answer to that as Paul has been out with injury since opening night. Paul is expected to return in November or December so we'll find out soon.
4 Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns/Jimmy Butler/Andrew Wiggins
The Minnesota Timberwolves shocked the world in the offseason on the night of the NBA Draft. While rookies were worrying about their future, Jimmy Butler ended up being the big story of the night when traded from the Chicago Bulls to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Butler is an all-around great player getting it done from both sides of the floor and is a legitimate All-Star.
3 Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron James/Kevin Love/Isaiah Thomas
LeBron James is still the best player in the NBA, but his Big Three finishes third in the overall rankings. The usual combination of LeBron, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving over the past three seasons would have ranked higher. Irving however requested a trade away from the Cavaliers in the offseason. Isaiah Thomas joined Cleveland in this trade.
2 Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook/Carmelo Anthony/Paul George
The Oklahoma City Thunder made the biggest splash in the offseason when it came to trying to contend for an NBA Championship this season. Russell Westbrook is coming off a historic MVP Award winning season that saw him average a triple double. The additions of Carmelo Anthony from the New York Knicks and Paul George from the Indiana Pacers saw the Thunder give up very little in return for two All-Stars.
1 Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry/Kevin Durant/Klay Thompson
There was no way to have any other big three at the top position. The Golden State Warriors dominated the playoffs last year going 16-1 en route to easily winning the NBA Championship. Golden State has such an embarrassment of riches that All-Star Draymond Green is snubbed from the Big Three. The combination of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant may see each man finish as the best shooter at his respective position.
Curry has won two MVP Awards and is already considered the most dominant shooter in NBA history. Durant is another MVP winner and added the Finals MVP with a tremendous playoff run last year. Many fans discount Thompson due to being behind these two, but the man once scored 37 points in a single quarter. Klay could easily average close to 30 points on most other teams. Golden State is close to unbeatable in a league full of super teams due to this big three.
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