Sports | January 15, 2021 6:30 am

How Does the Nets’ Big Three Compare to Other Big Threes in NBA History?

The trio hasn't played a game together yet, but it could be an all-timer

Do the Nets Have the Best "Big Three" In NBA History With Durant, Harden and Irving?
Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden at 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend.
Getty Images

Adding a superstar to a talented team that already has a couple of elite players doesn’t always lead to success, let alone a championship — just ask the 2019 Patriots, who added Antonio Brown to play with Tom Brady and Julian Edelman.

But, by adding James Harden to their dynamic duo of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Brooklyn Nets, on paper at least, may have put together the most-talented trio of players in the NBA this season.

In fact — again, only on paper as Harden, Durant and Irving have yet to take the floor together (and perhaps never will) — the Nets may actually have put together the best “Big Three” in the history of a league that birthed the phrase thanks to the 1980s trio of Robert Parish, Kevin McHale and Larry Bird on the Boston Celtics.

Below, we’ll show you where Brooklyn’s star threesome stacks up against some of the other all-time trios that have suited up in the NBA using a formula developed specifically for this exercise.

No. 10 (tie) Detroit Pistons: Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman

Combined All-Star Selections: 20
Combined All-NBA Selections:
20
Combined MVP Awards:
0
Combined Championships:
9
Overall Score:
49

No. 10 (tie) Golden State Warriors: Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson

Combined All-Star Selections: 21
Combined All-NBA Selections: 17
Combined MVP Awards: 3
Combined Championships: 8
Overall Score: 49

No. 8 – Brooklyn Nets: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, James Harden

Combined All-Star Selections: 24
Combined All-NBA Selections:
22
Combined MVP Awards:
2
Combined Championships:
3
Overall Score:
51

No. 7 – Boston Celtics: Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish

Combined All-Star Selections: 28
Combined All-NBA Selections:
24
Combined MVP Awards:
3
Combined Championships:
10
Overall Score:
65

No. 6 – Boston Celtics: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen

Combined All-Star Selections: 35
Combined All-NBA Selections:
30
Combined MVP Awards:
1
Combined Championships:
4
Overall Score:
70

No. 5 – San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginóbili

Combined All-Star Selections: 23
Combined All-NBA Selections:
39
Combined MVP Awards:
2
Combined Championships:
13
Overall Score:
77

No. 4 – Miami Heat: LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh

Combined All-Star Selections: 40
Combined All-NBA Selections:
37
Combined MVP Awards:
4
Combined Championships:
9
Overall Score:
90

No. 3 – Chicago Bulls: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman

Combined All-Star Selections: 23
Combined All-NBA Selections:
48
Combined MVP Awards:
5
Combined Championships:
17
Overall Score:
93

No. 2 – LA Lakers: Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and Robert Horry

Combined All-Star Selections: 33
Combined All-NBA Selections:
47
Combined MVP Awards:
2
Combined Championships:
16
Overall Score:
98

No. 1 – LA Lakers: Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabar, James Worthy

Combined All-Star Selections: 38
Combined All-NBA Selections:
38
Combined MVP Awards:
9
Combined Championships:
14
Overall Score:
99

As the overall scores bear out, having a player who is a cut above the rest like Jordan, James or Duncan has a clear impact on how high a trio of players nets out. And having a pair of those players —  as is the case with both Lakers teams (Johnson and Abdul-Jabar and Bryant and O’Neal) — pushes the score into another stratosphere.

Also, since the All-NBA score takes into account All-Rookie and All-Defensive team, players who excelled early in their career or were elite defensively also boost their trio’s overall score substantially.

As it pertains to the Nets and Warriors, it should be noted their respective scores will increase over time as Harden, Curry, Durant, Thompson and Irving are not done playing and possibly winning championships. They won’t catch the Lakers, but those Celtics teams, including the Big Three that started it all, are probably in range.

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