The AFRO sports desk is a little at odds when it comes to comparing the greatness of LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Durant has had an MVP-caliber season, but James is no stranger to MVP campaigns, and is having an outstanding season of his own. The argument has gone beyond who’s the better candidate. Instead, the latest debate concerns the surrounding cast of both players. With a heated 98-93 contest won by Miami on April 4 still fresh for both the Thunder and the Heat, Stephen D. Riley and Perry Green sounded off on which squad has the better Big Three.
Green: Oklahoma City reserve guard James Harden can’t be checked one-on-one. He has the handle and moves to get past any defender off the dribble and the range on his jumper extends past the three-point line. Simply put, the former top-five draft pick is one of the best scorers in the league. When you bring a guy like him off the bench to pair with Durant and the explosive Russell Westbrook, you have a triple-headed threat, none of whom can be handled one-on-one by any defender. All three can move with the ball, which makes them the best Big Three in the league. Durant is the MVP in my opinion, and Westbrook is the most explosive player at his position—even including guys like Derrick Rose and Deron Williams.
Riley: James and Durant can be considered a trade-off—they’re both great players. However, for Miami both Wade and Bosh are among the best at their positions. Bosh hasn’t played up to his talent level this season and Wade has been injured often, but when stable and steady, there’s not a Big Three better in the league. Miami still struggles trying to incorporate the talents of all three at the same time, but pound-for-pound, this is the best collection of talent out there. Wade has dominated in the past when needed, and is still capable of controlling a game. Compared to Westbrook, there really is no comparison. While talented, the combustible Westbrook still has a ways to go until he can be mentioned in the same category as Wade. And while I admit that Harden has outperformed Bosh this year, Bosh has already shown in the past that he can hit big shots in the clutch.
Green: I don’t care about seasons ago, I’m talking right now. The Thunder’s trio has been superb, which is why they hold one of the league’s top records. I feel confident enough to say Westbrook is already in Wade’s category, because he’s simply been excellent this season. He’s too quick off the dribble and can get his shot off against any defender in the NBA. He’s stellar on defense himself and has the athleticism and speed to check any opposing guard in the league. Simply put, Westbrook gives this team the edge in this matchup.
Riley: The way Westbrook emotionally broke down in last year’s playoffs, I’m not ready to call him the tipping point between the two trios. Wade has always been a dominant performer in the postseason, he’s just been injured this year. A healthy Wade easily trumps Westbrook, whether we’re talking better scorers or better defenders. The only edge I would grant you would be Harden over Bosh, and even that’s a lukewarm argument because Bosh is one of the most complete scorers at the power forward position in the league. When we’re talking trios, Miami’s collection has all the hardware you need, from MVP trophies (both Finals and regular season MVPs for Wade and James) and All-Star appearances. They’ve been in the league longer, which gives them the edge. Until the Thunder are able to tout the same accomplishments, then the better Big Three will reside in South Beach.