No one could say this summer in the NBA has been boring and it’s been big name players from the Eastern Conference making most of the noise. But the dust has settled, those big names have found new homes and the best Big 3s in the NBA East remain on the best teams from last season.
There was only four wins between the first place Celtics and the fourth place Wizards last year and in the 2017-18 regular season no one should be expecting it to have gotten any easier for the best in the East despite the player movement.
Your Big 3s for this season are:
Boston Celtics – last year 53 wins
Three current or former All-Stars: Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford.
Fourth? Marcus Morris averaged 14 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2 assists and shot 33.1 percent from three last season with a dysfunctional Pistons squad.
Last year the Celtics best 3 was Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Al Horford with Jae Crowder as a fourth, but as Horford is the only returning starter, chemistry could take quite a while to develop.
Cleveland Cavaliers – last year 51 wins
Three current All-Stars: Isaiah Thomas*, LeBron James and Kevin Love.
*If Thomas doesn’t start the season on time, one-time MVP Derrick Rose will fill in.
Fourth? Jae Crowder averaged 13.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and shot 39.8 percent from three last year with the first place Celtics.
Toronto Raptors – last year 51 wins
Two current All-Stars: Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka.
Note: Ibaka was acquired at the trade deadline last season. Toronto has four of last year’s five starters since the All-Star break.
Fourth? C.J. Miles averaged 10.7 points and 3 rebounds in 23.4 minutes with the Pacers last season and was acquired for his three-point shooting of 41.3 percent.
Washington Wizards – last year 49 wins
One current All-Star: John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter.
Fourth? Markieff Morris averaged 14 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists and shot 36.2 percent from three last season.
Note: The Wizards are the only team from last year’s top four in the East to return all five starters. They should look good right out of the gate.
Based on the players individual stats from last season, the new Big 3s add up like this:
Best Scoring Big 3
1st: Cavs 74.3 points
2nd: Raptors 64.5 points
3rd: Celtics 61.1 points
4th: Wizards 59.6 points.
Note: If Rose replaces Thomas, the Cavs Big 3 averages 10.9 fewer points based on last year’s production which would still be good for second best.
Best Rebounding Big 3
1st: Cavs 22.4 rebounds
2nd: Raptors 16.8 rebounds
3rd: Celtics 15.4 rebounds
4th: Wizards 13.7 rebounds
Note: The Cavaliers, Raptors and Wizards all have above average rebounders outside of their top four players. The Celtics had the second worst rebounding differential in the East last season and have done nothing to improve the situation this summer.
Most Big 3 Assists
1st: Cavs 16.5 assists
2nd: Wizards 15.7 assists
3rd: Celtics 14.3 assists
4th: Raptors 11.8 assists
Best Big 3 Field Goal Percentage
1st: Cavs 48.2 percentage
2nd: Wizards 47.8 percent
3rd: Celtics 47.4 percent
4th Raptors 46.9 percent
Note: If Rose replaces Thomas, the Cavs Big 3 field goal percentage would be better based on last season.
Best Big 3 Three-point Shooting
1st: Cavs 7.3 makes at 37.2 percent
2nd: Wizards 5.9 makes at 39.3 percent
3rd: Celtics 5.8 makes at 39.2 percent
4th: Raptors 5.2 makes at 38.5 percent
Note: If Rose replaces Thomas, the Cavs Big 3 makes 3 fewer threes a game.
The Milwaukee Bucks have their own potential Big 3 in Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and Kris Middleton, except for the fact the 22-year-old Parker tore his ACL and may not be back until after January.
If Thomas doesn’t miss too many games, the Cavaliers Big 3 looks to maintain their level of dominance over the rest of the Eastern Conference, but even if he doesn’t return to his prior form, Cleveland still has a Big 3 that will compete with the rest of the best.
The East has four teams with Big 3s that should lead their respective clubs to over 50 wins next season. But has anything really changed?
Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.