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Ranking The Best Third Member Of Championship Big 3s From The Last 10 Years

Ranking The Best Third Member Of Championship Big 3s From The Last 10 Years

Since LeBron James made the decision to leave the Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat in 2010, the trend of forming a superteam has been on full display. James left to form a group of himself, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh that was immediately elevated to championship contender. The decision from James differs from the Celtics, who acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen via trade, whereas James chose to leave.

We have seen superstars form their path to joining teams to play alongside some of their star-studded friends. In the last 10 years, there has been a big three, formed via trade or free agency decisions, that has taken their team to championship status. That third piece is critical because the likelihood of playing a team with a big three in the NBA Finals is very likely these days.

If you look at the third member of the big three, that player gave the team substantial contributions in their efforts to help the team win a ring. These are the rankings of those players from the last 10 championship teams.


10. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope - 2020 (Los Angeles Lakers)

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Playoff Stats: 10.7 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.2 BPG

The Lakers were led by a dynamic duo in LeBron James and Anthony Davis this season. James led the league in assists, while Davis was a top defensive player. The Lakers were a top-3 team defensively and had a plethora of spot-up shooters that benefited from James driving to the lane and forcing the defense to collapse. While the Lakers had Kyle Kuzma, Rajon Rondo, and Dwight Howard on the team, the true third component of the team’s success was Caldwell-Pope.

Caldwell-Pope was the team’s best outside shooter during their run in the NBA Finals against the Heat. He scored in double digits in five of the six games, including outputs of 15, 16, and 17 in the final three games. The heavy work could be done by James and Davis, while he just had to do enough to make up for the lack of a third superstar.


9. Kevin Love - 2016 (Cleveland Cavaliers)

Kevin Love

Playoff Stats: 14.7 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.4 BPG

What the Cavaliers did by winning their first championship in team history was special. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving have some special moments that will forever be remembered in Finals lore. With that said, Love had a great showing up to the Finals, but he didn’t produce at a high rate in the Finals because he battled injuries.

The series with the Warriors was epic because it went to seven games. Love’s best game was in Game 1 when he finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds. After that was limited in Games 2 and 4 while being inactive for Games 3. He scored two points in Game 5 and was limited to 12 minutes in Game 6. However, in the deciding Game 7, Love pushed through the pain to score nine points and grab 14 rebounds to help the Cavaliers win.


8. Chris Bosh - 2013 (Miami Heat)

Chris Bosh

Playoff Stats: 12.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.6 BPG

When the Heat repeated as NBA champions, Bosh didn’t need to score because he had James and Wade. What Bosh had to do was patrol the middle and take care of the rebounding and be the best rim protector he could be. In the 2013 NBA Finals, Bosh had a double-double in three of the four playoff wins, and also had the biggest rebound and pass to Ray Allen, which remains one of the biggest shots ever in Game 6 to stave off elimination.

Altogether, Bosh was efficient offensively against the Bucks and Bulls, where he was close to scoring 20 points most nights. When the team played the Pacers and Spurs, he had to take on a more defensive approach to help the team adapt. In the end, he helped the team win another championship.


7. Chris Bosh - 2012 (Miami Heat)

Chris Bosh

Playoff Stats: 14.0 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 0.6 APG, 0.4 SPG, 1.0 BPG

When Bosh won his first title, he was putting up bigger offensive numbers, while also rebounding at a high rate. In the five games played in the Finals against the Thunder, Bosh secured a double-double in two of the three wins. Then in Game 5, he scored 20 points, which was the highest output of the series for him.

Bosh played in one game in the semifinals and just three games in the Conference Finals due to injuries. When he came back to play in the Finals, he was able to persevere and help the Heat win their first championship as a Big 3. For his efforts and his ability to get back, it hasn’t gone unnoticed.


6. Klay Thompson - 2017 (Golden State Warriors)

Klay Thompson

Playoff Stats: 15.0 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.3 BPG

When the Warriors won in 2017, Thompson was technically the third member of the big three. It forced Draymond Green to the fourth spot as the “Fantastic Four” featured four All-Stars. The Warriors had brought Kevin Durant to the team in the offseason and the second member of the “Splash Bros” was regulated to wing defender and spot-up shooter.

Thompson was the All-Star of role players. Thompson scored 22 and 30 points in the winning moments of the NBA Finals. With Durant and Curry leading the way, the Warriors were favored in the series. With what Thompson provided on the side, making it easier for the Warriors to win the Finals in five games.


5. Kawhi Leonard - 2014 (San Antonio Spurs)

Kawhi Leonard

Playoff Stats: 14.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.6 BPG

The original big three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili won four championships together. When this group won their final title together, Leonard was one of the top three players, as evidenced by his Finals MVP Award. Leonard was tasked with guarding LeBron James, but on top of that, he finished as the second-leading scorer for the Spurs.

In the playoffs, had a double-double against the Mavericks in Game 1 and scored 15 points in Game 7 to help eliminate the team. In the second round, he scored 20 points at least two times. In Game 6, he had a double-double in the clinching game against the Thunder of 17 points and 11 rebounds. The Finals is where he shined. After the series was tied 1-1, Leonard scored 29 points in Game 3. Then in Game 4, Leonard finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds. In the clincher, Leonard finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds to finish the Heat.


4. Jrue Holiday - 2021 (Milwaukee Bucks)

Jrue Holiday

Playoff Stats: 17.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 8.7 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Holiday was a true difference-maker for the Bucks all through the playoffs. In the first round against the Heat, Holiday had three double-doubles in the sweep, two of which counted points and assists. In the second round, a seven-game series with the Nets, Holiday had three double-doubles and nearly had a triple-double in Game 7. In the finishers, Holiday scored 27 points with nine rebounds and nine assists.

In the Conference Finals, Holiday scored 25 and 27 points in Games 5 and 6 respectively to help the Bucks pull away from the Hawks after the series was tied 2-2. In the Finals, Holiday helped the Bucks overcome a 2-0 deficit, which included double-doubles in Games 5 and 6. In the final game, he nearly had a triple-double with 12 points, nine rebounds, and 11 assists.


3. Pascal Siakam - 2019 (Toronto Raptors)

Pascal Siakam

Playoff Stats: 19.0 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.7 BPG

It was a one-and-done year for Kawhi Leonard with the Toronto Raptors. With Leonard, Kyle Lowry, and Pascal Siakam, the Raptors developed a big three over time. Siakam eventually won Most Improved Player of the Year and was an All-Star. Siakam continued his stellar play in the season and kept it up in the playoffs.

In the first round, Siakam scored 30 points against the Magic. In the second round, Siakam scored 29 points in the opener against the 76ers. Siakam scored at least 20 points in five of the seven games, whereas in Game 7, Siakam finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds. After two double-doubles in the Conference Finals, Siakam scored 32 in Game 1 against the Warriors. Then in Game 6, he finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds to help the Raptors upset the Warriors.


2. Draymond Green - 2015 (Golden State Warriors)

Draymond Green

Playoff Stats: 13.7 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 5.2 APG, 1.8 SPG, 1.2 BPG

What Draymond Green did in 2015 should not go unnoticed. The Warriors were playing in the NBA Finals for the first time as a core of Curry, Thompson, and Green. The team heavily relied on Curry and Thompson to take care of the offense, while Green did just a little bit of everything. In the end, Thompson averaged a double-double for the entire playoffs, while averaging a high amount of assists, steals, and blocks.

What has to stand out the most is that Green had a triple-double in Game 6 of the series closing win over the Cavaliers. Green had 12 double-doubles in all playoff games. This was on top of playing solid defense against the Cavaliers. In the end, the Warriors were not deemed superstars by this time. Curry did win the MVP, while Thompson was rising to stardom, but Green was not seen as this type of player, and he produced at a high level.


1. Klay Thompson - 2018 (Golden State Warriors)

Klay Thompson

Playoff Stats: 19.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 4.1 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.8 BPG

Why does Thompson get the benefit of the date for No. 1? For the second straight year, Thompson was the third piece to the puzzle of Curry and Durant. What we need to remember is that the Warriors didn’t have Curry in the first round of the playoffs, while also missing Game 1 of the second round. While Curry was wrong, scored 27 and 31 points in the first two games in the first round and closed the series with 24 points in Game 5.

Even with Curry shooting at a high rate and efficiency, Thompson torched the Pelicans in the second round, scoring 27, 26, and 23 points in Games 1, 3, and 5 respectively. In the Conference Finals, the Rockets nearly eliminated the Warriors after holding a 3-2 series lead. That was when Thompson scored 35 points in Game 6 and added 19 points in Game 7. The Finals saw Durant erupt to earn his second Finals MVP. Thompson scored at least 20 points in two of the four wins, but for his contributions all around, he was truly the best. 

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