NBA

Do the Boston Celtics Have the Only Big 3 in the NBA?

The big three era in the NBA was defined by teams who stacked superstars in trios to take on the league. Now, while superstars still team up by twos, threes, and fours, the term big three is not used as often as it was in the days when the Boston Celtics had one with Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett, nor the days when the Heat had their high-profile version with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. Still, despite a decade since their last big three, the Celtics might have another on their hands. 

Do other teams have a big three? 

A big three takes a perfect combination of talent, draft luck, free agent money, and a functioning front office. They can be drafted into being, traded into existence, or done with a combination of the two. See the aforementioned Celtics’ trio. Nowadays, with talent more spread out than it was in the past, a big three is back to being rare, although some might disagree about whether or not that is the case. 

Some may argue that the Los Angeles Clippers have one with Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Lou Williams, but they could also argue that Montrezl Harrell makes it a big four. The Warriors might have one in Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, but two-thirds of that combination has missed most of the season, and they might be a big four with D’Angelo Russell. 

Some young teams could have big threes in the future if they do not have one yet. The Sacramento Kings have Marvin Bagley, De’Aaron Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Buddy Hield, and if things break right, the stars could align for three of them, if not four of them. The same could be said if one of the Atlanta Hawks’ young stars can rise alongside Trae Young. 

The 76ers have anywhere from two to four stars, depending on who is asked, while those who are high on Kyle Kuzma might have him as the third wheel on a big three roster with the Lakers. 

There is some debate around the NBA which teams have dynamic duos or big threes, but the Celtics might have a big three on the rise. That might not be the same stature of the team’s last version, but it doesn’t mean it won’t be in the future. 

Do the Boston Celtics have a big three? 

Andrew Hughes of Hardwood Houdini posits that not only do the Boston Celtics have a baby big three now, but they also have the best big three in basketball. While other teams have a combination of three stars from the past and present or with their bench, the Celtics have a core of potential stars who are all young enough to be a part of a big three for years to come. 

Kemba Walker came over from Charlotte in the offseason, and he is proving to be the perfect veteran leader despite still being relatively young. Put him next to the rising stardom in Jayson Tatum, and it is already a duo of guards who can go toe-to-toe with the majority of teams in the NBA. Jaylen Brown has proven to be a quintessential piece of the puzzle with a breakout season, and with him, they complete the puzzle. 

The Boston Celtics have three players who can take over the game at any moment, and all three of those players are part of the same rotation. As loaded as several teams are, the Celtics have the right combination of youth and style to maximize these three players. 

Does any of that matter to the Celtics?

Some NBA teams have dynamic duos or fabulous foursomes, but the Celtics might be the only team with a big three.
Boston Celtics teammates Marcus Smart (from left), Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Kemba Walker suit up for Team USA in 2019. | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Walker, Brown, and Tatum put up great stats, with cumulative averages of 62 points, 10 assists, and 18 rebounds between them, but the youth combined with the superstar power of many of the other teams might make this trio fly under the radar. However, those other teams may age out, which might leave an opening in two, three, or four years for the Celtics big three to be right up where the Clippers or Lakers are now. 

All of this is pure speculation, but while other teams are dominating headlines, the Celtics are turning the disappointment of the Kyrie Irving era into something special that could bring them to contention shortly and resurrect its new big three era.