The NBA has always been full of all stars who lead their teams to greatness. Yet the teams with the most success usually have a core group of players who are all stellar basketball players. Often known as Big Threes, some of them have gone on to win numerous championships. And now with Kevin Durant on the Warriors there is much talk and speculation about how much success the latest Big Three — Durant, Steph Curry, and Klay Thompson — will have.
So let’s take a look at past Big Three combos to see what they can tell us about the future of the Warriors.
The most recent high-profile Big Three was in Miami, when the Heat had LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. In most NBA trios, there’s one player who stands out a bit more than the rest, and in the case of the Heat it was LeBron. This group went to the Finals four times between 2011-2014 and won the championship twice (2012 and 2013).
In those last two Finals, the Heat faced another big Big Three: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli, the core of the San Antonio Spurs. Between 2001-2016, the years the three played together, the Spurs appeared in the playoffs in every season. They went to five Finals, winning four (2003, 2005, 2007, 2014). Duncan was the glue of the Spurs’ Big Three, and he led the team to an incredible run of success.
But arguably the best Big Three in NBA history was in Chicago. The trip of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman played together from 1995-1998, winning titles in all three seasons. All three would go on to win more titles, both with the Bulls and other teams. But when these guys were together they put on a show. Not only did they three-peat, they set the NBA wins record in 1996, going 72-10 — a record that stood until last season, when the Warriors went 73-9 behind Curry, Thompson, and Draymond Green.
Which brings us back to Golden State. Curry, Thompson, and Green are all All-Stars and still in California. But with the addition of Durant — an All-Star and former MVP — the Warriors are undeniably scary for every other team in the league. It also raises many questions. Who will be the leader of the pack? How will they work together? How will the addition of Durant impact decrease?
There are two primary opinions about this free agency move: One is that Durant will make the Warriors so much better that they will break their own NBA wins record. The other, more doubtful one, is that the superteam will have to learn to work together and might have some trouble in the process.
Personally, I think the reality will be somewhere in the middle. It will be an adjustment for KD and the stars of the Warriors to work together. Curry might take a hit in points per game, and we should expect that. I also don’t think the 2017 MVP will be on the Warriors — the players’ numbers should decrease if they share the ball well. But they should learn to work together very quickly, and I think they will become a dominant force when they get in a groove.
At the very least, the 2016-17 Warriors will be an extremely fun team to watch and they should go on an incredible run.
Photos: Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images (Durant), Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images (Heat), D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images (Spurs), Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images (Bulls)