Opinion Corner: Big 3s all the rage in NBAThe 2007-2008 Boston Celtics certainly weren’t the first Big Three to band together for an NBA championship, and they certainly weren’t the last — but they’ve undoubtedly started the most popular trend among NBA rosters this off-season.
By: Brian Willhide, The Jamestown Sun
The 2007-2008 Boston Celtics certainly weren’t the first Big Three to band together for an NBA championship, and they certainly weren’t the last — but they’ve undoubtedly started the most popular trend among NBA rosters this off-season.
Since Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett joined forces in 2007 with already-established superstar Paul Pierce, NBA teams have been trying to emulate such a three All-Star format.
Are they chasing championships, so to speak? Perhaps.
But who can blame them the way NBA general managers are stockpiling top-tier talent.
If you look at the elite teams in the league and how their rosters are structured, they’ve all got three go-to players at any point in their offensive set.
The San Antonio Spurs saw that formula lead them to the No. 1 seed in the western conference with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. They happened to be bested by a younger, more skilled group in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
And of course the most infamous Big Three of them all is this past season’s NBA champion Miami Heat.
Now we shift to this off-season where it looks like the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets are following suit with this trend.
The Lakers’ acquisition of Steve Nash adds to an established Big Three of its own and the Nets would have a noteworthy one as well if they end up acquiring Dwight Howard in a rumored multi-player trade.
That’s all well and good, but if you ask yourself the following question, you’ll get to the real heart of any championship-level NBA squad: What’s the difference between the 2010-11 Miami Heat who bowed out in six games to the Mavericks and the 2011-12 Miami Heat who won it all in five?
The answer: two fold — team chemistry and the supporting cast around the three superstars.
For as good as LeBron James was in this year’s NBA Finals, it took a different contributor to step up big in each of the Heat’s four victories — Shane Battier, Norris Cole, Mario Chalmers and Mike Miller.
The Thunder not only didn’t get consistent enough play from Harden in the Finals, but they also didn’t get enough quality complimentary minutes from guys like Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison.
Role players — that’s where the true guts of a team are.
The 2010-11 Heat tried to piece together a supporting cast of role players trying to scrounge significant minutes out of Mike Bibby, Eddie House and Joel Anthony.
The 2011-12 Heat found a much better chemistry with Chalmers in the starting lineup, and guys like Battier, Miller and Cole offering much more valuable minutes come playoff time.
Laker fans might love it when they stare at the roster and see the names of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Nash. But will they have the supporting cast to get them all the way?
Likewise, a Nets unit of Howard, Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace seems like an All-Star lineup. But will their role players do enough to propel them to the top of the Eastern Conference?
My prediction: With an aging Miami Heat supporting cast, the Thunder advance past the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals and defeat the Heat for the 2013 NBA championship.
Willhide is a news writer at the Jamestown Sun