NBA

Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and the historical past of all-time nice NBA scoring trios

All three Brooklyn Nets stars — Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving — are heading in the right direction to common in extra of 20 factors per recreation. They might be the 23rd trio to perform that feat, and the historical past of their NBA predecessors suggests successful a championship with comparable roster building is a long-shot at finest.

Then once more, just one different 20-point triumvirate has been so adept at lengthy pictures. They, too, featured Durant, they usually simply so occur to be the one such grouping to have ever gained a title. Durant, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who every averaged greater than 20 factors per recreation for 3 straight seasons collectively, led the Golden State Warriors to back-to-back championships in 2017 and 2018. It took devastating accidents to each Durant and Thompson within the Finals to maintain their Warriors from successful a 3rd straight title in 2019.

So, the place do Durant’s Nets stand? Can they comply with Golden State’s so-far singular blueprint for immortality? Or will they be part of the record of 21 different 20-point trios that fell wanting their championship objective on 25 events?

9 of these 25 groups completed with a successful proportion of .500 or worse and a unfavourable internet score. The Nets are 12-Eight total, 5-2 since buying Harden in a blockbuster trade, with a reasonably snug plus-3.7 internet score (albeit solely plus-0.Eight in two weeks because the deal). I’m snug saying Brooklyn will end within the black on each accounts, safely avoiding abject failure. For the file, these 9 aforementioned groups:

How do Brooklyn Nets stars Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving stack up in opposition to the all-time nice scoring trios? (Jason Miller/Getty Photos)

1961-62 St. Louis Hawks (29-51)

Web score: -2.6, seventh in a nine-team league (second on offense, ninth on protection)

  • Bob Pettit: 31.1 factors per recreation (78 video games)

  • Cliff Hagan: 22.9 factors per recreation (77 video games)

  • Clyde Lovellette: 20.9 factors per recreation (40 video games)

1968-69 San Francisco Warriors (41-41)

Web score: -1.4, ninth of 14 (13th on offense, fifth on protection)

  • Jeff Mullins: 22.Eight factors per recreation (78 video games)

  • Nate Thurmond: 21.5 factors per recreation (71 video games)

  • Rudy LaRusso: 20.7 factors per recreation (75 video games)

1969-70 Chicago Bulls (39-43)

Web score: -1.5, eighth of 14 (11th on offense, ninth on protection)

  • Chet Walker: 21.5 factors per recreation (78 video games)

  • Bob Love: 21.Zero factors per recreation (82 video games)

  • Clem Haskins: 20.Three factors per recreation (82 video games)

1969-70 Phoenix Suns (39-43)

Web score: -1.5, seventh of 14 (third on offense, 13th on protection)

  • Connie Hawkins: 24.6 factors per recreation (81 video games)

  • Dick Van Arsdale: 21.Three factors per recreation (77 video games)

  • Gail Goodrich: 20.Zero factors per recreation (81 video games)

1971-72 Detroit Pistons (26-56)

Web score: -6.0, 14th of 17 (12th on offense, 16th on protection)

  • Bob Lanier: 25.7 factors per recreation (80 video games)

  • Dave Bing: 22.6 factors per recreation (45 video games)

  • Jimmy Walker: 21.Three factors per recreation (78 video games)

1980-1981 Denver Nuggets (37-45)

Web score: -0.4, 14th of 23 (first on offense, 22nd on protection)

  • David Thompson: 25.5 factors per recreation (77 video games)

  • Alex English: 23.Eight factors per recreation (81 video games)

  • Dan Issel: 21.9 factors per recreation (80 video games)

1982-83 Utah Jazz (30-52)

Web score: -3.9, 18th of 23 (20th on offense, 12th on protection)

  • Adrian Dantley: 30.7 factors per recreation (22 video games)

  • Darrell Griffith: 22.2 factors per recreation (77 video games)

  • John Drew: 21.2 factors per recreation (44 video games)

2013-2014 Sacramento Kings (28-54)

Web score: -3.1, 22nd of 30 (20th on offense, 23rd on protection)

  • DeMarcus Cousins: 22.7 factors per recreation (71 video games)

  • Isaiah Thomas: 20.Three factors per recreation (72 video games)

  • Rudy Homosexual: 20.Zero factors per recreation (55 video games)

2018-2019 New Orleans Pelicans (33-49)

Web score: -1.3, 20th of 30 (13th on offense, 23rd on protection)

  • Anthony Davis: 25.9 factors per recreation (56 video games)

  • Julius Randle: 21.Four factors per recreation (73 video games)

  • Jrue Vacation: 21.2 factors per recreation (67 video games)

A 10th workforce didn’t make the playoffs:

2007-2008 Golden State Warriors (48-34)

Web score: +2.2, 13th of 30 (fourth on offense, 23rd on protection)

  • Baron Davis: 21.Eight factors per recreation (82 video games)

  • Monta Ellis: 20.2 factors per recreation (81 video games)

  • Stephen Jackson: 20.1 factors per recreation (73 video games)

These post-“We Imagine” Warriors are corresponding to the Nets from the standpoint of the place within the league they ranked on offense and protection. Brooklyn is at the moment ranked fourth in offensive score (115.Zero factors per 100 possessions) and 24th in protection score (111.Four factors allowed per 100 possessions). This yr’s Jap Convention will not be almost as aggressive as a West that produced eight 50-win groups in 2007-08.

The Nets will keep away from lacking the playoffs. To take action could be a humiliation far past these Warriors, who solely counted Davis as a former All-Star and one-time All-NBA choice. Durant and Harden are each former MVPs and perennial All-NBA picks. Irving’s two All-NBA nods brings the whole between them to 18.

A handful of 20-point trios have equally spectacular trophy instances, all of which we are going to get to, however to not have two of these scorers with a number of All-NBA picks underneath their belt has confirmed an impediment to rivalry.

Scratch two extra trios and three extra groups from the record:

1971-72 Golden State Warriors (51-31)

Playoffs: Misplaced Western Convention first-round sequence, 4-1

Web score: +0.7, fourth of 17 (13th on offense, fourth on protection)

  • Jeff Mullins: 21.5 factors per recreation (80 video games)

  • Cazzie Russell: 21.Four factors per recreation (79 video games)

  • Nate Thurmond: 21.Four factors per recreation (78 video games)

1986-87 Seattle SuperSonics (39-43)

Playoffs: Misplaced Western Convention Finals, 4-0

Web score: +0.5, 10th of 23 (sixth on offense, 16th on protection)

  • Dale Ellis: 24.9 factors per recreation (82 video games)

  • Tom Chambers: 23.Three factors per recreation (82 video games)

  • Xavier McDaniel: 23.Zero factors per recreation (82 video games)

1987-88 Seattle SuperSonics (44-38)

Playoffs: Misplaced Western Convention first-round sequence, 3-2

Web score: +2.0, 10th of 23 (seventh on offense, 16th on protection)

  • Dale Ellis: 25.Eight factors per recreation (75 video games)

  • Xavier McDaniel: 21.Four factors per recreation (77 video games)

  • Tom Chambers: 20.Four factors per recreation (82 video games)

Seattle displays simply how unstable the outcomes might be for a workforce counting on a trio of scorers who can not get stops on the opposite finish. A sub-.500 Sonics group made the Western Convention finals one yr, and a barely above .500 Sonics squad misplaced within the first spherical the following. Ellis made a single All-NBA workforce, and McDaniel made none. Every appeared on one All-Star workforce. Ellis and McDaniel usually are not Harden and Irving.

The expertise disparity is so nice that to match them is a waste of time. Just a few extra groups are teetering off the sting right here, too, with second stars who naked no resemblance to Harden, a lot much less Irving as a 3rd star:

1978-79 Phoenix Suns (50-32)

Playoffs: Misplaced Western Convention finals, 4-3

Web score: +3.4, third of 22 (seventh on offense, sixth on protection)

  • Paul Westphal: 24.Zero factors per recreation (81 video games)

  • Walter Davis: 23.6 factors per recreation (79 video games)

  • Truck Robinson: 21.1 factors per recreation (26 video games)

1988-1989 Phoenix Suns (55-27)

Playoffs: Misplaced Western Convention finals, 4-0

Web score: +7.3, second of 25 (second on offense, fifth on protection)

  • Tom Chambers: 25.7 factors per recreation (81 video games)

  • Eddie Johnson: 21.5 factors per recreation (70 video games)

  • Kevin Johnson: 20.Four factors per recreation (81 video games)

Shoutout to Tom Chambers, a two-time All-NBA choice who made this record for 2 completely different groups over the course of three consecutive seasons, and reached the Western Convention finals with each of them. It’s a testomony to how far a 20-point trio of extremely-good-but-not-all-time-great gamers can carry a workforce.

It stays to be seen which class final yr’s Boston Celtics will fall into:

2019-2020 Boston Celtics (48-24)

Playoffs: Misplaced Jap Convention finals, 4-2

Web score: +6.3, third of 30 (fourth on offense, fourth on protection)

  • Jayson Tatum: 23.Four factors per recreation (66 video games)

  • Kemba Walker: 20.Four factors per recreation (56 video games)

  • Jaylen Brown: 20.Three factors per recreation (57 video games)

They reached the Jap Convention finals with a pair of one-time All-NBA picks — Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum — however Tatum continues to be solely 22 years previous, and 24-year-old fellow 20-point scorer Jaylen Brown (as much as 27.1 factors per recreation thus far this season) may additionally develop right into a perennial All-NBA choose.

That might change how we view them from a historic perspective, as a result of the remaining 20-point trios — all of which function a number of Corridor of Famers — shaped traditionally nice groups, with simply two exceptions:

1981-1982 Denver Nuggets (46-36)

Playoffs: Misplaced Western Convention first-round sequence, 2-1

Web score: +0.5, 13th of 23 (first on offense, 23rd on protection)

  • Alex English: 25.Four factors per recreation (82 video games)

  • Dan Issel: 22.9 factors per recreation (81 video games)

  • Kiki Vandeweghe: 21.5 factors per recreation (82 video games)

1982-1983 Denver Nuggets (45-37)

Playoffs: Misplaced Western Convention semifinals, 4-1

Web score: +0.6, 12th of 23 (third on offense, 20th on protection)

  • Alex English: 28.Four factors per recreation (82 video games)

  • Kiki Vandeweghe: 26.7 factors per recreation (82 video games)

  • Dan Issel: 21.6 factors per recreation (80 video games)

1990-91 Golden State Warriors (44-38)

Playoffs: Misplaced Western Convention semifinals, 4-1

Web score: +1.6, 11th of 27 (sixth on offense, 23rd on protection)

  • Chris Mullin: 25.7 factors per recreation (82 video games)

  • Mitch Richmond: 23.9 factors per recreation (77 video games)

  • Tim Hardaway: 22.9 factors per recreation (82 video games)

These groups — neither of which received previous the second spherical — look like a worst-case situation for this season’s Nets. The fast-paced offenses of Doug Moe’s early-1980s Nuggets and Don Nelson’s early-’90s Warriors typically got here on the expense of their defenses. Brooklyn ranks sixth in possessions per 48 minutes this season at a tempo that falls between what certified as up-tempo within the early ’80s and ’90s. That there’s a comparable disparity of their offensive (ranked fourth of 30) and defensive scores (24th) ought to be of concern.

Bear in mind, these Nuggets and Warriors by no means averaged quite a lot of three-pointers per recreation as a workforce. Durant, Harden and Irving are every averaging greater than twice as many makes an attempt for the Nets and making them at effectively above-average charges. Their added effectivity accounts for a internet score (plus-3.7) that sits a number of factors increased than these sub-optimal-achieving Denver and Golden State groups of one other period.

Is it sufficient to launch them into the stratosphere of the remaining groups on our record (six trios, 10 seasons)? Every triumvirate featured three Corridor of Famers, two MVPs or each. Durant, Harden and Irving qualify. In some type, all of those groups gained at the very least one championship, albeit not at all times in a season all of them averaged 20 factors per recreation. At worst, they ranked center of the pack on protection, a dividing line for the Nets. Even a gentle defensive enchancment from Brooklyn ought to put them within the firm of those groups:

1959-60 St. Louis Hawks (46-29)

Playoffs: Misplaced NBA Finals, 4-3

Web score: +2.2, second of eight (first on offense, fifth on protection)

  • Bob Pettit: 26.1 factors per recreation (72 video games)

  • Cliff Hagan: 24.Eight factors per recreation (75 video games)

  • Clyde Lovellette: 20.Eight factors per recreation (68 video games)

1960-61 St. Louis Hawks (51-28)

Playoffs: Misplaced NBA Finals, 4-1

Web score: +2.7, second of eight (second on offense, second on protection)

  • Bob Pettit: 27.9 factors per recreation (76 video games)

  • Cliff Hagan: 22.1 factors per recreation (77 video games)

  • Clyde Lovellette: 22.Zero factors per recreation (67 video games)

Pettit and Hagan reached 4 Finals in a five-year stretch, successful a title collectively in 1958. Lovellette joined halfway by means of for the final two Finals appearances, they usually got here inside a Recreation 7 in opposition to Invoice Russell’s Celtics of one other ring. Ought to the Nets be involved a 3rd scorer by no means yielded a title for the Hawks? Let’s not spend an excessive amount of time evaluating three trendy shot creators to an inefficient 1960s frontcourt trio.

1966-67 Boston Celtics (60-21)

Playoffs: Misplaced Jap Convention finals, 4-1

Web score: +6.6, second of 10 (fourth on offense, first on protection)

  • Sam Jones: 22.1 factors per recreation (72 video games)

  • John Havlicek: 21.Four factors per recreation (81 video games)

  • Bailey Howell: 20.Zero factors per recreation (81 video games)

This trio gained the final two of Russell’s 11 championships collectively in 1968 and 1969, when Howell’s scoring common dipped just under 20 factors per recreation (19.Eight and 19.7, respectively). Once more, not a lot to learn into.

1968-69 Los Angeles Lakers (55-27)

Playoffs: Misplaced NBA Finals, 4-3

Web score: +3.6, fourth of 14 (second on offense, eighth on protection)

  • Jerry West: 25.9 factors per recreation (61 video games)

  • Elgin Baylor: 24.Eight factors per recreation (76 video games)

  • Wilt Chamberlain: 20.5 factors per recreation (81 video games)

1969-70 Los Angeles Lakers (46-36)

Playoffs: Misplaced NBA Finals, 4-3

Web score: +1.7, fifth of 14 (eighth on offense, fourth on protection)

  • Jerry West: 31.2 factors per recreation (74 video games)

  • Wilt Chamberlain: 27.Three factors per recreation (12 video games)

  • Elgin Baylor: 24.Zero factors per recreation (54 video games)

  • Joyful Hairston: 20.6 factors per recreation (55 video games)

Baylor was on his final legs nonetheless averaging within the mid-20s for these Lakers, and he helped Chamberlain and West take Russell’s Celtics to back-to-back Recreation 7s in 1969 and 1970. They received an inflow of scoring from guys like Hairston and Gail Goodrich upon Baylor’s exit, however it was not till Chamberlain took a backseat on offense, averaging fewer than 20 factors for the primary time, that he and West gained a title collectively in 1972.

1980-81 Los Angeles Lakers (54-28)

Playoffs: Misplaced Western Convention first-round sequence, 2-1

Web score: +3.7, fifth of 23 (seventh on offense, sixth on protection)

  • Kareem Abdul-Jabaar: 26.2 factors per recreation (80 video games)

  • Jamaal Wilkes: 22.6 factors per recreation (81 video games)

  • Magic Johnson: 21.6 factors per recreation (37 video games)

Wilkes joined Johnson and Abdul-Jabaar for 2 of the 5 titles these legends gained collectively, averaging 20-plus factors within the 1980 and 1982 championship campaigns. It was Magic whose scoring common dipped beneath 20 on these runs, reinforcing the concept some sacrifice is important to make the appropriate wheels flip.

1983-84 Philadelphia 76ers (52-30)

Playoffs: Misplaced Western Convention first-round sequence, 3-2

Web score: +2.2, seventh of 23 (seventh on offense, fourth on protection)

  • Moses Malone: 22.7 factors per recreation (71 video games)

  • Julius Erving: 22.Four factors per recreation (77 video games)

  • Andrew Toney: 20.Four factors per recreation (78 video games)

Malone, a three-time MVP, joined a Sixers workforce that had reached the Finals on Erving’s again in two of their earlier three seasons. This trio gained the title collectively in 1983. Toney’s scoring common jumped above 20 for the one time in his profession in 1984, however he scored 19.7 factors an evening throughout the championship marketing campaign.

2016-2017 Golden State Warriors (67-15; NBA champions)

Playoffs: NBA champions

Web score: +11.6, first of 30 (first on offense, second on protection)

  • Stephen Curry: 25.Three factors per recreation (79 video games)

  • Kevin Durant: 25.1 factors per recreation (62 video games)

  • Klay Thompson: 22.Three factors per recreation (78 video games)

2017-2018 Golden State Warriors (58-24)

Playoffs: NBA champions

Web score: +6.0, third in a 30-team league (third on offense, 11th on protection)

  • Stephen Curry: 26.Four factors per recreation (51 video games)

  • Kevin Durant: 26.Four factors per recreation (68 video games)

  • Klay Thompson: 20.Zero factors per recreation (73 video games)

2018-2019 Golden State Warriors (57-25)

Playoffs: Misplaced NBA Finals, 4-2

Web score: +6.4, second in a 30-team league (first on offense, 13th on protection)

  • Stephen Curry: 27.Three factors per recreation (69 video games)

  • Kevin Durant: 26.Zero factors per recreation (78 video games)

  • Klay Thompson: 21.5 factors per recreation (78 video games)

You already know this group effectively. Durant elevated the Warriors from a workforce that gained a title and 73 regular-season video games of their two earlier seasons to at least one that was unstoppable till tendon ruptures lower quick the 2019 Finals for Durant and Thompson. It helped that Golden State additionally featured Draymond Inexperienced, a Defensive Participant of the Yr who made the quartet a monster on protection at their finest. That’s what Brooklyn lacks.

2020-21 Brooklyn Nets (12-8)

Web score: +3.7, sixth of 30 (fourth on offense, 24th on protection)

  • Kevin Durant: 30.5 factors per recreation (15 video games)

  • Kyrie Irving: 27.9 factors per recreation (12 video games)

  • James Harden: 24.1 factors per recreation (7 video games)

Nonetheless, historical past suggests these Nets ought to be within the combine for a title, which will not be groundbreaking information, however the league’s previous additionally tells us that the protection has a protracted method to go and one of many trio might also need to say goodbye to their 20-point scoring common earlier than Brooklyn can break by means of as a severe menace.

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Ben Rohrbach is a employees author for Yahoo Sports activities. Have a tip? Electronic mail him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or comply with him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

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