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The Nets and Lakers are proving the “Big 3” experiments don't always work

Nets-Lakers-Big 3

Nets-Lakers-Big 3

Going into the season, the majority of basketball analysts and fans predicted that at least one of the Brooklyn Nets or Los Angeles Lakers would cruise through the season and win the championship. But as of today, few of them would say the same thing. Their struggles are only a reminder that just because these two teams have formed their very own “big three,” it doesn’t mean it’s a sure winning formula in modern basketball.

Why? Well, let’s break down why the Nets and Lakers’ have hit rock bottom.

The curse of the Nets' Big Three

Let’s start with the Nets. Their big three of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving is a more seamless fit compared to the Lakers. However, they’ve faced several obstacles that have hindered them from playing together --they ended up only playing 16 games together. 

Brooklyn is 0-2 with only Irving on the court. They were 23-16 when at least two of Durant, Harden, and Irving play and 13-3 with all of them on the floor. Their last dominant win happened against the Chicago Bulls in January, where the trio combined for 61 points, 13 rebounds, and 28 assists in their shared 15 minutes together on the floor. 

Since then, Harden, Irving, and Durant haven’t had this kind of performance together due to Durant’s MCL sprain and Irving vaccine status. The problem with the Nets is that the team’s personalities and health have clashed, and it has hindered them all from playing together.

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And that’s the challenge when forming a roster around a trio of superstars. So much of the team’s cap space is absorbed by each of them that it leaves other holes in the roster that are hard to cover. Both the Nets and Lakers have no choice but to surround their superstars with a bunch of veteran minimum players, some of whom don’t belong in the league anymore.

Even with how dominant Irving, Harden, and Durant could've been individually, at the end of the day, their opponents didn't have trouble exposing the Nets’ overall waeknesses when one of the superstars wasn't on the court -- just like how the Lakers have been exposed all season.

The Lakers' failed experiment

The trio of LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and Anthony Davis has to be dominant each night to win. They’ve only played 17 out of 54 games together this season due to injuries and COVID-19 protocols. However, it’s clear that the Lakers’ trio has yet to figure out how to play with one another.

The biggest hole the Lakers have is in their defense. The only way they can cover up for this is if James (who is now 37-years of age), Davis, and Westbrook outscore their opponents altogether. However, mostly due to Westbrook’s struggles and Davis' health issues, they haven't been able to do that consistantly.

As a result, they currently sit as the 9th seed with a 26-30 record. The Nets on the other hand are 29-26, hoping to bounce back after their blockbuster move on trade deadline. But despite all the external factors, both of these teams have been a huge disappointment thus far.

The reason why both teams built their Big Threes in the first place is to lessen the load for each superstar, but the Nets and the Lakers’ superstars haven’t made up for it. It all might change moving forward, but as things currently stand, this is yet another proof that the game of basketball is much more than just piling up superstars on the same roster.

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