Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs Are Tearing Down a ‘Big 3’ Concept

In an epoch dominated by NBA superstars and a routine of collecting as many of them as reason allows, a Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs are reinventing a mold.

I know what you’re thinking… Both teams—two of a best in league history, no less—employ some-more than their satisfactory share of superstars.

The Spurs are enjoying a primes of LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, in serve to a twilights of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. The Warriors muster 3 All-Stars, one of that competence be an visitor life form, (in Stephen Curry), Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.

The best-ever Warriors aren’t a best-ever Warriors yet Curry and Green. And a Spurs would be distant reduction intimidating yet Leonard.

But conjunction Golden State nor San Antonio is exclusively contingent on high-profile names, and they many positively don’t allow to a required Big Three indication that seduced many a team. 


Takes Talent to Get Talent

Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

It was a 2007-08 Boston Celtics that reignited seductiveness in a Big Three model.

The Spurs’ dynastic tricycle of Duncan, Ginobili and Parker was in a heyday yet flew underneath a radar as always, and a immediacy behind Beantown’s mutation translated into hostile quell appeal.

Acquiring Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett didn’t usually spin a Paul Pierce-led Celts into present pretension contenders; it morphed them into overnight champions. They won a pretension in 2008, done it behind to a NBA Finals in 2010 and cumulative a third Eastern Conference Finals entrance in 2012.

LeBron James’ preference to join army with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade on a Miami Heat in 2010 valid again that tip space and trade resources could be quickly parlayed into championship rings. Those Heatles grabbed dual titles, done 4 loyal NBA Finals bids and would still be building on that success had James never bolted behind to a Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014.

A prolonged line of copycats has given followed, many of them unsuccessful.

The Los Angeles Clippers landed Chris Paul in 2011 to partner with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. That iota has a third-highest NBA winning percentage during a time together, yet a Clippers have nonetheless to make it out of a second turn of a playoffs.

Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers rolled a bones on a party of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. They failed.

The Brooklyn Nets’ Joe Johnson-Brook LopezDeron Williams examination never worked out—not even when they welcomed Garnett and Pierce into a fold. The Houston Rockets and New York Knicks are still perplexing to square together a successful contingent of superstars.

The Rockets, who could practically skip a playoffs this season, are in a some-more auspicious position than many with a 26-year-old James Harden. Just about everybody else is anticipating it unfit to conform a rebuilding plans around their disadvantage of a Big Three.

Market distance doesn’t sway. Cap space isn’t a substructure of attraction. Team executives dressed in rings (Hi, Phil Jackson) are not serf hypnotics.

Noah Graham/Getty Images

Winning sells. Drafting good sells. Incumbent talent sells. 

That’s because a Spurs landed Aldridge. They’re no approach they’re as alluring yet a home-brew Duncan, Ginobili, Parker and Leonard.

Four of Golden State’s elite starters were drafted by a Warriors. And that’s because they, according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, are “real threats” to drive Kevin Durant off his feet in giveaway agency. The imminent tip blast helps, yet a Warriors don’t lure a destiny Hall-of-Famer in his primary yet a growth of another in Curry and a core so low it’s unfair.



A Different Play Style

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Enticing outward players, to be clear, isn’t a finish idea of possibly a Spurs or Warriors. Their identities are so team-centric and well-oiled that accounting for a serve of even an all-time good ranks as a potentially nonessential risk.

Consider what Zach Lowe wrote for on a theme of Durant and a Dubs:

Most of a two-dozen or so group executives we polled over a past dual weeks on a Durant-Warriors probability described it as a no-brainer (“Bench smench,” texted one GM), yet there is some multiplication within a Warriors, and we can know why. They competence have a best basketball group ever assembled!

How can we shake that up? They are obliterating victims by about 13 points per 100 possessions. Unless a joining adds a 4-point shot or lengthens a game, it is roughly literally unfit to get any better. And a Warriors have already been proven right selecting smoothness over a sweet-shooting glossy intent in Kevin Love.

These versions of a Spurs and Warriors have never once showed an desire to scapegoat abyss for star power. Big names are a partial of what they do, yet so too is a surrounding talent.

Both benches arrange top-seven for descent and defensive efficiency, according to Together, of their 10 elite starters, only 3 arrange inside the top 150 of fourth entertain mins (Harrison Barnes, Green, Thompson).

Neither group places many interest in a siege sets either. Both Golden State and San Antonio tumble inside a bottom 10 of such possessions, a distant cry from their many evident competition:

Curry (89th percentile) and Leonard (85th percentile) are among a many efficient one-one players in a game, yet conjunction is inside a tip 20 of siege possessions.

Given a grade to that other teams gaunt on shot-creators, this shows a league’s dual best squads are also truly unique.

For evidence: James Harden has some-more isolations underneath his belt than 11 teams, including a Spurs and Warriors. The Cavaliers, who residence dual of a game’s best playmakers in Kyrie Irving and James, dwell in a bottom half of round movement. The Clippers, who are led by one of a league’s craftiest passers in Paul, lay in a bottom seven. The Oklahoma City Thunder, owners of a home-grown Big Three themselves, are passed last.

The Warriors lead a league in support percentage: More than 68 percent of their done buckets come off assisting hands, a tip symbol of any group since a 2003-04 New Jersey Nets (71.4) and Sacramento Kings (69.4). The Spurs are not distant behind. Just over 61 percent of their baskets are assisted, a Association’s sixth-best rate.

Not surprisingly, Golden State and San Antonio any rank tip five in passes per game. They are also initial and second, respectively, in delegate assists—made shots that are, in essence, “hockey assisted” on by some-more than one player.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Golden State and San Antonio are different. Their character not usually relies on abyss yet creates it.


New Breed of Juggernauts

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Playing any code of basketball is many easier with good players, and, broken-record style, good players are resources a Spurs and Warriors have in plenty supply. But they don’t shrivel when those good players step off a floor—at slightest not to a grade that others do.

San Antonio, for example, outscores opponents by during slightest 10 points per 100 possessions with any one of its top players in a game. But a same is loyal whenever a Spurs play yet them. (Their lowest off-floor net rating comes when Leonard sits, and they are still a plus-10.4 in that situation.)

“The fact that we have such a low group helps,” Ginobili pronounced in Feb after pang a groin injury, per’s David Flores. “Even if Kawhi goes down, we have a lot of players. Of course, nobody is going to give us what Kawhi gives us. But with all that, we have a lot of players that can play mixed positions or a lot of players some positions, so that gives us a lot of flexibility.”

Golden State is frequency struggling to tarry when there are gaps in their revolution either. The Warriors are usually a net-negative when one of dual players sit, Curry and Green, yet a Dubs actually event some-more than most:

And that is how it’s ostensible be. Teams should humour when their best players float a pine. That a deficiency of superstars and starting fives aren’t, by and large, crippling their team’s opening usually serve validates what a Spurs and Warriors are doing. 

If a epoch of normal luminary squads is entrance to an end, it means that even a many distinguished shouldn’t be carrying their teams as many as expected.

And they aren’t. Golden State’s opening yet Curry and Green and Cleveland’s opening sans LeBron are exceptions—ones that usually strengthen a MVP cases of those individuals.

We’re not downplaying or cheapening what a Spurs and Warriors are doing or what their tip players are worth. Both are on gait to coquette with 70 or some-more victories. They possess two of a five best net ratings in NBA history.

They have mixed stars.

Those stars, distinct a members of superteams in years past, are usually no longer approaching to go it alone.


Stats pleasantness of and and are accurate heading into games on Mar 5.

Dan Favale covers a NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @danfavale.

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