A new trend is starting to appear in the NBA. The formation of Big 3's is becoming the norm around the league. The Celtics brought Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to Boston to team up with Paul Pierce. It was a super team, and it brought Boston a title in 2008. Then the Heat infamously did it with LeBron James leaving Cleveland with "The Decision". The Knicks did it for a year, bringing Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, and Chauncey Billups together. The Clippers have found recent success (yes, the Clippers..success) by teaming up Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and Chauncey Billups. The teams are fun to watch, they win games, and they've brought new interest from the fans. These teams have some of the best records in the league. Though they aren't completely unaffected by injury to one of their superstars, they certainly are much more equipped to deal with the injury of an All-Star. The Big 3's have changed the league, and while some say it's not fair, it's here to stay so we might as well write a post about it.
So let's start looking at the Big 3 concept. Most would say that Boston was the trendsetter. But they were far from the first. Back in the 70's, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, and Jerry West teamed up for the Lakers. The Lakers of the 80's had a Big 4 with Magic, Kareem, Worthy, and Byron Scott. The Celtics of the 80's had a front court Big 3 with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish. Finally, the Spurs of the 2000's had Duncan, Ginobli, and Tony Parker.
Now let me say my (probably) unpopular opinion: No player who plays in a Big 3 should ever win MVP.
The MVP stands for Most Valuable Player. This is widely interpreted as, the player who means the most to his team. And that is most often interpreted as the player whose team would fall apart the most if he wasn't on the team. But..that's exactly the opposite of what a Big 3 is all about. The Big 3 concept is about bringing three guys together so that one guy doesn't have to do it all. The MVP is about one guy doing it all. Those can't match up though. It's impossible.
Consider this: The Miami Heat (the most powerful Big 3 in the league) are playing a game. LeBron James tears a pectoral. He's out for the rest of the year. What happens? Do they tailspin to the bottom of the standings? Do they fall out of playoff contention? No. No they absolutely do not. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh take over. Dwyane Wade has already proved that he can win a championship as long as he has a good big man. Chris Bosh has proved he can thrive when King James and Prince Wade are out (33 Pts, 14 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 Blk in one game without them). Take any one of those guys out, and the other 2 step up. That's the magic, and ultimately MVP-killing, quality of the Big 3. No one guy is most valuable. It's like an assembly line, every part comes together and no one part is more or less important than any other. If you're going to give one person in the Big 3 the MVP, you have to give it to all of them.
That creates a bit of a hole for MVP candidates. With a large percentage of the league's superstars flocking to places to play together in Big 3's, you have to look a little bit harder to find the MVP. Because it eliminates all of these superstars from MVP Contention:
Boston: Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett (and maybe even Rajon Rondo)
Miami: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh
Los Angeles Clippers: Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups, Blake Griffin
New York Knicks: Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Amare Stoudamire
Memphis Grizzlies: Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph
San Antonio: Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker
If none of those guys can win the MVP, honestly, who can?
The best players in the league who are not part of a Big 3 are (in my opinion):
LaMarcus Aldridge (surprise candidate of the year)
All of these guys are doing it (when compared to a player from a Big 3) alone. But are they?
Kobe has Bynum and Gasol. Durant has Westbrook and Harden. Nowitzki has Kidd, Terry, even Odom. Ellis and Curry have each other. Which leaves four players:
Dwight Howard, Kevin Love, Derrick Rose, and LaMarcus Aldridge.
The Magic without Howard would fall apart. They would have no inside game and no athleticism. The Wolves without Love would have to call Michael Beasley their best player, and he's incredibly inconsistent. Derrick Rose's Bulls have already proved they wouldn't fall apart without him, as they currently have a 2-1 record whens he's out. And the Blazers without Aldridge are nowhere near their surprising great start this year.
Which is why I hope more than anything that MVP voters this year do not give their vote to a Big 3 player, because one of those three guys (not Rose) deserves it more than anyone else.