Nowadays in the NBA, player personnel is very necessary in order to still be in the running come May/June. Although “big 3’s” existed long ago as far back as the 1980’s Boston Celtics consisting of Larry Bird, Robert Perish and Kevin McHale, it wasn’t until 2010 that they made a comeback. When LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade in Miami in 2010, they sparked a trend in the NBA. In the 5 years since then, many teams have opted to form their own “big 3’s” to compete in today’s NBA. Sort of like an arms race, today’s NBA rosters are stronger than ever. Here are he five teams in the NBA have the strongest starting five!
5. Houston Rockets
-Ty Lawson, James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Terrance Jones, Dwight Howard
Led by a somewhat young core of Harden and Howard, the Rockets starting 5 is looking pretty strong. Harden was a leading candidate for MVP, and Howard is a defensive force in the paint. Though they didn’t make it past the Western Conference Finals last season, they will return next season with a similar starting 5, aside from a new point guard. The Rockets traded for troublesome PG Ty Lawson from the Denver Nuggets, and hope that his off-the-court problems will not affect his playing. Trevor Ariza and Terrrance Jones will also be returning- 2 players that helped the team greatly in the playoffs. The Rockets have a lot of upside, but it all comes down to Howard and Harden’s production.
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4. Oklahoma City Thunder
-Russell Westbrook, Dion Waiters, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Enes Kanter
Despite coming off a year in which Durant was out for most of the season, the Thunder are looking very good going into next season. Durant will more than likely return to previous form, and be a force to be reckoned with. Westbrook hopes to continue what he started last season, in which he took the league by storm for his playmaking ability especially on the offensive end. With a new coach in Billy Donovan, in addition to the re-signing of C Kanter, the Thunder will look to gain continuity and work on chemistry in their first full season together. With 2 all-stars, a defensive beast, and 2 up-and-coming youngsters, the Thunder have a pretty good starting 5.
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3. San Antonio Spurs
-Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan
The Spurs technically won free agency by successfully taking Aldridge away from the Portland Trailblazers, thereby avoiding the rebuilding stage. Aldridge is in his prime right now, and he is the perfect successor to Tim Duncan. The Spurs also re-signed Leonard, the former Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year. They hope that the pair of Aldridge and Leonard, along with the veterans including Parker and Duncan, can continue to compete for a championship year in and year out. It also helps that they have one of the best 3 and D players in the league in Danny Green, whom they also re-signed this offseason. Whenever the Spurs seem to lose, they do something to win again- this time in free agency.
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2. Los Angeles Clippers
-Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Paul Pierce, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan
The Clippers were very very lucky this offseason, to not only sign veteran Paul Pierce to a 3 year contract, but to also convince Jordan to re-sign. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are both in their prime, with many all-star appearances between the two. Although Jordan does not always get the appreciation he deserves, last season he led the league in FG% and Rebounds, and was in the running for Defensive Player of the Year. He is very famous for his dunks, and he is a very important part of the Clippers team identity. The addition of Pierce gives the Clippers a starter at the 3 spot, who can make big shots and play above-average defense. Redick is aging, but he is still a very consistent 3-PT shooter. Overall, this Clippers team definitely has what it takes to compete in the West.
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1. Cleveland Cavaliers
-Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Timofey Mozgov
Luckily, the Cavs were able to retain 4 of the 5 starters from last season whom all had contract options or free agency this summer. Kyrie should bounce back from his season-ending surgery, as should Love, and assist LeBron toward reaching the Finals again. There’s not much to be said about LeBron, aside from the fact that he is the best player in the game currently, is in his prime, and the stats seem to indicate that he should play more efficiently this coming season. The additions of Mozgov and Shumpert paid off for the Cavs last January, as it changed the team identity and gave them the manpower to make runs on their way to the Finals. Mozgov should and most likely will continue to play great supporting basketball and Shumpert should improve on his 3PT and defensive playmaking in his first full season with the team. It’s more than likely that the Cavs will come out of the East victoriously, but the pieces that the Cavs have gives them a good chance against whoever comes out of the West.