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The Big Three in Miami - Three's Company, or Three's a Crowd? (by Mike Goldstein)

Posted on July 19, 2010 at 4:14 PM

by Mike Goldstein

Lev has given me the opportunity to write a couple of guest articles for his blog while he is away at camp. Thanks Lev!

The decision by LeBron James to join fellow superstars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami shook the basketball world upside down. The NBA has had teams with a talented group of three players before (the current day Boston trio and the Lakers combo of West, Baylor, and Chamberlain come to mind), but there has arguably never been a more dynamic and talented group of three players in their prime playing for the same team.

But how will their talents mesh together on offense? They will each probably have to take a diminished role in the offense compared to their previous styles of play, but will that have a negative effect on their games? A radical thought entered my mind: what if they don't play together for most of the game? In other words, what if they substitute in and out of the game so that typically only 2 players play together at one time?

Argument for Frequent Substitution

Most NBA teams will not keep a superstar on the bench to begin a game. But when the starters are taking a rest, the quality of play often drops to low levels. Why should teams with multiple superstars settle for this lackluster period of play in each and every game?

James, Wade, and Bosh have each shown that they can dominate a game offensively without much help around them. Playing together on the court at the same time could diminish their aggressiveness and overall productivity. By substituting in and out of the game frequently, each star can display his full arsenal of talents when on the court, without being held back or feeling restricted.

This style of substitution also keeps the stars well rested during the grueling NBA season and long playoffs period. The stars would each only need to play 32 minutes per game to ensure at least two stars being on the court at the same time. This keeps their bodies fresh for the playoffs and reduces the chance of injury.

Argument for Playing Together

When the trio is on the floor together, the defense will be fixated on stopping those three players, leaving the other two players open for easy scores. The signing of Mike Miller gives them a lights out 3-point shooter (48% in 09-10) whose already stellar stats are likely to improve while playing alongside three superstars. Udonis Haslem also gives them a solid inside option who can convert easy buckets when being fed the ball by the excellent passer LeBron James.

(How could these five players possibly make up a starting Five, you might be thinking? LeBron can play a point-forward role and Haslem can be bumped up to Center. If it worked for David Lee, why shouldn't it work for Haslem too?)

This group of players could possibly dominate lesser teams to the point that James, Wade, and Bosh can sit most of the second half when the Heat hold a comfortable lead. Also, playing apart allows the defense to focus their efforts on each individual superstar more closely, leading to decreased productivity.

Which substitution strategy do you think would work better? I'd love to hear some of your comments.

Also, enjoy a hilarious clip starring Steve Carell and Paul Rudd that parodies the "LeBron James Decision Special" on ESPN. 

Categories: Trades, Guest Columnist

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1 Comment

Reply Lev Akabas
8:20 AM on July 27, 2010 
First, I want to thank Mike for writing a great guest article.

In response to the question, I think it would be a great idea for them to substitue. Take any one of them off the team and they're still the best in the league. They would be less tired and less prone to injury.