The Nets haven’t had a legitimate “Big Three” since the days of Kidd-Carter-Jefferson, and even then, I don’t know how “big” those three players ever were since they never took the Nets any further than the second round of the playoffs.
Coming into this season, while no one ever proclaimd Devin Harris, Brook Lopez and Courtney Lee as the new “Big Three,” they were, arguably, the team’s three best options on the offensive end. Unfortunately, Lee struggled mightily shooting-wise and Harris had been erratic. It’s not until recently that the three have started to produce actual results together offensively, and it’s no surprise that the Nets are playing better as a team as a result.
In their last seven games together (starting 2/16 and excluding the last three games before Saturday when Lee was out with an injured ankled), Lee-Harris-Lopez combined to average 61.2 points per game, which, for you math majors out there, breaks down to about 20 points per player – not too shabby for the worst offensive team in basketball. Meanwhile, the Nets as a team have put together a 3-4 record in that stretch, which includes a win on the road against a tough defensive team in Charlotte, a stunning upset of the Celtics in Boston, and a great come-from-behind victory against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. You could accuse me of cherry-picking these seven games, but considering the Nets are still on pace to have the worst record in NBA history, any stretch where the team is winning 43 percent of their games, is something to take note of.
It makes sense that the Nets are most successful offensively with those three players clicking, because each one brings a unique ability to the team. Lopez is clearly the post presence, Harris is best when he’s breaking down defenders and driving to the hoop, and Lee excels as a three-point shooter, or a mid-range jump shooter in transition. When Lopez and Harris are excelling at their games, it opens up more opportunities for Lee and vice versa. It just makes sense that these three should work so well together. And unlike the period earlier this season where Yi Jianlian was scoring in bunches in what some thought was at the expense of other players, Lee, Lopez and Harris are all getting their opportunities as of late, with each player carrying the offense during certain stretches.