Top Trios In The NBA
Miami's Big Three garners most of the attention, but the Heat's superstars aren't the only talented trio around the NBA. James and Bosh joined Wade in Miami this summer in hopes of following the Boston Celtics' blueprint of putting egos asides while putting together a championship-caliber team. All drafted in the Class of 2003, the Heat trio may be one of the NBA's most impressive collection of talent ever, but it's not the league's only star-studded nuclei of note. Here's a look at other top trios around the league.
Los Angeles Lakers
The "Tinseltown Trio" has helped the Lakers win the last two NBA championships. While the Heat stole headlines this summer and the Celtics added frontcourt depth, the Lakers might have made the smartest move of all: standing (relatively) pat. After all, why fix something that isn't broken?
With apologies to Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo has not only replaced the sharpshooter as a member of Boston's trio but has also emerged as the team's best player. The core of Garnett, Pierce and Allen led the Celtics to a championship and their revamped trio could lead Boston to another.
The Hawks are the only team in the league to have improved their record each of the last five seasons and they have Horford, Smith and Johnson to thank. And after re-signing Johnson this summer and extending Horford's contract this season, the Hawks' core could be in place for a long time.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder's homegrown trio is developing into one of the finest around the league. In Westbrook (21), Durant (22) and Green (24), Oklahoma City has the youngest nucleus in the league. And with Westbrook and Green still on their rookie contracts, it is also one of the most affordable, not to mention one of the most talented.
San Antonio Spurs
Before the Heat, there were the Celtics. And before the Celtics, there were the Spurs, who used the trio of Duncan-Parker-Ginobili to win three NBA titles. Although an influx of youth has helped steady San Antonio's ship, the Spurs still revolve around their version of the Big Three.
They've yet to take the floor together in the regular season -- Boozer remains sidelined with a hand injury -- but when they do, Chicago fans should see its most talented team in years. With a rebounder like Noah, a scorer like Boozer and a dynamic guard like Rose, the Bulls have as balanced a trio as anyone around the league.
Built around Howard, the Magic made it to the NBA Finals in 2009 and reached the Eastern Conference finals with the addition of Vince Carter (and subtraction of Hedo Turkoglu) in 2010. Can the new group take the next step? To do so, they'll need Howard to assert himself a bit more on offense and their star guards to do the same on defense.
The Mavericks own one of the deepest benches in the league, but in crunch time they turn to their core of Nowitzki, Terry and Kidd. Since trading for Kidd, the Mavs have won 50-plus games each of the last three years, but have also failed to advance to the Western Conference finals.
After losing Carlos Boozer in free agency, the Jazz elected to build around the core of Williams, Millsap and summer addition Jefferson. But what will be most important is whether Millsap or Jefferson can pair with Williams to become a dynamic duo in Jerry Sloan's patented pick-and-roll offense.
The Blazers wish Greg Oden was a part of this picture. But the big man has played in just 82 games over his first three seasons. With Oden a question mark, the Blazers are focusing on Roy, Aldridge and Batum -- a young, athletic (and, most important, healthy) nucleus to build around.
With Bogut healthy and Salmons now under a long-term contract, the Bucks are hoping this trio meshes well in Milwaukee. After a surprising 46-36 campaign in 2009, the Bucks are optimistic they will.
You could argue Memphis' best player is veteran bruiser Zach Randolph, but the team is hoping the young triplets of Gasol, Mayo and Gay can lead the team into the future. The core helped the Grizzlies win its most games last season (40) since Marc's brother Pau was in town.
New Orleans Hornets
It is anybody's guess how long Paul will be in New Orleans, but while he's there, the Hornets will continue to operate through him, West and Okafor on offense and defense.