- Kirk Goldsberry (@kirkgoldsberry) is a professor and an NBA analyst for ESPN.
Winning a championship in the NBA is hard. In this era, winning one without a Big Three is even harder. While the 2018-19 Toronto Raptors proved it can be done, the list of championship contenders in 2021-22 leads with teams who’ve stuffed their starting fives with trios of star power. While the Bucks’ Big Three of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday enters the season as the defending champions, they don’t top the rankings of the league’s best trios.
Let’s take a tour of the league’s best, starting with the most ridiculous version in Brooklyn.
Tier 1: Beasts of the East
The best Big Three in the NBA right now plays in Brooklyn, and it’s not close. Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving are among the most dynamic and creative scorers of this era and are squarely in their primes. Durant is one of the best three players alive, Harden has won three of the past four scoring titles, and Irving hit one of the biggest shots in NBA history.
We caught a glimpse of how good these guys can be in the first round of the 2021 playoffs, when they combined to average 85.2 points per game against the Boston Celtics, the most by any trio in a single playoff series in league history. On paper, it’s an embarrassment of riches, but the Nets must stay healthy to win the championship.
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