When the Brooklyn Nets shocked the world and pulled off the blockbuster of the century, there was trepidation at first. The Nets sold their future, two fantastic role players in Chris LeVert and Jarrett Allen, and it didn’t help that James Harden’s divorce was extremely messy. With that said, in two games without Kyrie Irving, Harden has proven that he is still an MVP-caliber player.
The trio of Harden, Irving, and Kevin Durant could be the best Big 3 since LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh teamed up together with the Miami Heat in 2010. At the time, LeBron promised seven titles, which was quite a stretch. In four seasons, the Heat qualified for four NBA Finals and won two titles. If we are purely comparing stats, the Nets trio is the best we have ever seen. If we are counting rings, then that is a different story.
Comparing The Stats
Before we get into the full comparison and the competition, let’s take a look at the numbers. For this exercise, we are going to take a look at the last full year’s stats with the player’s previous season before the trio formed. For example, the 2009-2010 season would be used for the Miami Heat’s Big 3, while the 2018-2019 season would be used for the Nets due to Durant missing all of last season with an injury.
Miami Heat Big 3
– LeBron James (Cavaliers): 29.7 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 8.6 APG, 1.6 SPG, 1.0 BPG
– Dwyane Wade (Heat): 26.6 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 6.5 APG, 1.8 SPG, 1.1 BPG
– Chris Bosh (Raptors): 24.0 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 2.4 APG, 0.6 SPG, 1.0 BPG
Brooklyn Nets Big 3
– Kevin Durant (Warriors): 26.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 5.9 APG, 0.7 SPG, 1.1 BPG
– James Harden (Rockets): 36.1 PPG, 6.6 APG, 7.5 APG, 2.0 SPG, 0.7 BPG
– Kyrie Irving (Celtics): 23.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.5 BPG
When looking at the stats, the Heat have the size over the Nets, while the Nets have the better shooters. The Nets also possess two players that have teamed up to win seven of the last 12 scoring titles. If these two teams went head to head, and Brooklyn needed a three-pointer to tie or win the game in the end, there are three legitimate options. The Nets would beat this team in transition and that’s a bold statement. The tag-team of Wade and LeBron were transition fiends.
The band broke up after the 2014 NBA Finals when the Heat lost to the San Antonio Spurs. LeBron wanted to head back home to Cleveland and try and bring the city their first championship. In 2016, he accomplished just that by teaming up with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Since the 2014 Big 3 union, we have seen a handful of teams try and duplicate the success that was that team.
Irving, Love, and LeBron have to be the first group. Irving’s last three seasons were comparable to his career numbers of 22.5 points per game and 5.2 assists. Love transitioned his game from Minnesota where he was a straight 20-and-10 player to somebody that provided about 17 points, nine rebounds, and could hit a three-point shot. However, this Big 3 statically does not match the Nets, even with LeBron’s near triple-double numbers.
4 years ago today was the greatest day of my life. Thank you LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers for giving our city rejuvenated hope and life!! pic.twitter.com/isZS7Yaoxy
— Sir Yacht (@SirYacht) June 19, 2020
The Golden State Warriors created a homegrown Big 3 with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green that won at least one title together. However, Green was bumped from the Big 3 when Durant came to town to help the team win two more titles. That team was not a Big 3 but more of a Fantastic Four. Green was an All-Star candidate and All-Defensive Player. Durant won two Finals MVP trophies, while Curry and Thompson became the “Splash Bros.” Given that the team was truly a Fantastic Four, it’s not fair to compare the Nets Big 3 to this team.
Are The Nets The Best?
For now, the answer is no. It’s an easy no too because this group has not accomplished anything yet. For starters, the team has played one game together as a unit. Irving has missed the last seven games, including the two games when Harden played, due to personal reasons. We don’t know if this will truly mesh together. This Big 3 has the most to prove out of anybody.
For starters, Durant won two championships with a loaded Warriors squad that won 73 games before he showed up. To some, this was a perfect example of joining a loaded team. Irving wanted to prove that he could be a No. 1 and separated himself from LeBron and Cleveland.
Irving went to Boston and never meshed well with his teammates, while his leadership style was questioned. As for Harden, he has not played in the NBA Finals since 2012 when he was with Durant in OKC. All three players want to prove that they have what it takes to pull off winning a title.
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) December 9, 2016
If the Nets can secure at least two championships, it would be enough to put this team over the Heat. First, the Nets have a much worse looking bench than Miami back then. Mike Miller, Ray Allen, Shane Battier, and Norris Cole were some pretty solid options coming off the bench. The Nets have Bruce Brown, Landry Shamet, and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. The Brooklyn Big 3 is going to have to play some serious minutes in crunch time.
It’s an exciting time to be an NBA fan. The idea of the Lakers with LeBron and Anthony Davis taking on the Nets with Irving, Harden, and Durant has to get the adrenaline going. It would be the ultimate battle between two different types of legacy. In the end, Brooklyn could be the best Big 3 we have ever seen. It’s all going to come down to what they can do in the playoffs.