So-called NBA “Big 3’s” have been the rage since LeBron James and Chris Bosh relocated to South Beach to team with Dwyane Wade. That union resulted in four consecutive trips to the Finals and a pair of titles.
The concept is hardly new. Bird-McHale-Parrish and Magic-Kareem-Worthy played virtual ping-pong with the Larry O’Brien Trophy in the ‘80s. The difference nowadays is superstars’ power to join forces with select other superstars.
Oklahoma City is the best example this season, where reigning MVP Russell Westbrook gets new running mates in Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. But not every team has three players on that level and no one besides Golden State has four (Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green).
Here in the District, the Wizards can boast of a super duo in John Wall and Bradley Beal. Otto Porter’s game isn’t quite to the level for a “Big 3,” but the other two could cover the difference.
Wall and Beal are arguably the Eastern Conference’s best point guard and best shooting guard, respectively. They give the Wizards continuity that’s rare in this age of moving pieces: The pairing has led Washington in scoring for the last five seasons, a streak matched only by the Clippers’ Chris Paul and Blake Griffin (who aren’t teammates this year).
That doesn’t place Washington ahead of Cleveland or Boston as favorites to win the East, but it puts the Wizards right behind them, especially since Wall and Beal are still improving.
“We want our names up (in the rafters),” Beal told reporters this week at training camp. It’s important to us. … We realize that he wouldn’t be where he is without me and vice versa. I damn sure wouldn’t be where I am without him.”
They’re under contract to be teammates for the next five seasons, plenty of time to continue growing on and off the court after some rocky moments together.
“The toughest thing you have is two young players that want to be great,” Wall told reporters. “Sometimes it might work and sometimes it might not work out. But us being brothers, we put everything to the side and we make things work because we both want to be great.”
The Wizards haven’t been great for a long time, but the teams ahead them don’t necessarily qualify, either. The Celtics return just four players, having lost much of their grit and defensive tenacity. The Cavs still have James, but he’s surrounded by more questions than answers.
Having a great backcourt will have to suffice for Washington. “That’s a legacy that we’re building here, and we’re trying to accomplish something like the championship team in ’77-’78,” Beal said.
They might be closer than we think.