Who has the best Big Three in the WNBA?
The Boston Celtics - who have been led all season by the Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen - are two wins away from winning their first NBA championship since 1986.
Many Boston fans cringed at this trio of All-Stars using the same moniker as the original Big Three of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. However, if this team can finish off the Lakers and claim the Celtics’ 17th championship, the new Big Three will go down in Celtics lore.
All of this talk about Big Threes got us at WNBA.com thinking about which WNBA team has the best Big Three. Below we’ll lay out our picks for each team’s Big Three and also make a case for why they could be considered among the league's best. Then we’ll turn it over to you to discuss in the Fan Voice forum and vote for your favorite.
Let the debate begin…
Western Conference (in alphabetical order)
The Comets bring a mixture of youth and experience to their Big Three. Leading the way is four-time champion Tina Thompson, who is having another stellar year in Houston and recently became just the second member of the WNBA 5,000 point club. Joining Thompson is center Michelle Snow, who is among the league leaders in field-goal percentage at .595, and rookie guard Matee Ajavon, the Comets first round draft pick out of Rutgers, who has already become a regular to coach Karleen Thompson's rotation this season.
The Sparks' Big Three is unique because none of its members played for the team a year ago. Last year, Parker was leading Tennessee to a NCAA title, Leslie was recovering from having her first child and Milton-Jones was playing in Washington. Now that this trio is together, memories of last season's 10-24 record are fading fast. Parker and Leslie rank 1-2 in the league in rebounding and are both in the top 11 in scoring. Milton-Jones' return to LA has sparked her to the best scoring and rebounding averages of her career.
The Lynx have been the surprise of this young WNBA season and they have done it with, well, youth. Minnesota has the top Big Three among rookies this season with Wiggins, Nikki Anosike and Charde Houston. However, for the team's Big Three, you have to include last year's scoring champ Augustus, who is currently tied for fourth in the league in scoring at 19.9 points per game. We still have not seen the complete Big Three for the Lynx in action as Harding, last year's No. 1 overall pick in the draft, is out with a knee injury.
The trio of Pondexter, Taurasi and Smith are averaging a combined league-best 62.0 points per game, led by the top two scorers in the league in Pondexter and Taurasi. Smith steps into the third spot in the Big Three this season while forward Penny Taylor is on hiatus while preparing for the Olympics with the Australian National Team. Smith has responded with the highest rebounding average of her career at 7.8 boards per night, good for seventh in the league.
The Monarchs' Big Three features a pair of shooters in Lawson and Powell and an up and coming inside force in Brunson. Lawson and Brunson were each named to their first All-Star Game a year ago, while Powell finished the year as the team's leading scorer at 12.8 points per game. With the departure of Yolanda Griffith (free agency) and DeMya Walker (waived due to injury), Brunson is now the prominent force on the Monarchs' frontline.
The San Antonio Big Three begins with Young, the third-year forward who has been an All-Star in each of her first two WNBA seasons and is currently averaging a career-best 17.8 points per game. Young is joined by the veteran duo of Hammon - last year's runner up in MVP voting - and Wauters - who is back in the WNBA after taking two seasons off and fitting in quickly with the Silver Stars.
The Storm, who featured the dynamic duo of Jackson and Bird for the past six seasons, bolstered their lineup this year with a trio of All-Stars in Cash, Griffith and Sheryl Swoopes. Cash gets the nod to the Big Three as the two-time All-Star is on pace for her best season since 2004. Jackson - last season's MVP - is once again among the league leaders in scoring and rebounding, while Bird is running the point for the new-look Storm and averaging a career high in assists this season.
Eastern Conference (in alphabetical order)
Just seven games into their existence, the Dream are still in search of their first win as well as their Big Three. The early leaders include the former Storm duo of Lennox and Castro Marques as well as sophomore guard Latta. Lennox currently ranks seventh in the league in scoring with a career-best 18.6 points per game. Castro Marques, currently on hiatus from the Dream while trying to help Brazil secure an Olympic bid, is averaging in double digit scoring for the second straight season. Latta, who played a reserve role in Detroit last year, is getting her opportunity to establish herself as a starter and leader for this new franchise.
The Sky’s Big Three is trio of young stars on the rise. Dupree, an All-Star in each of her first two seasons in the league, currently ranks fourth in the league in blocks per game and ninth in rebounds per game. She is joined by Price, last season's Rookie of the Year, who is having a solid sophomore campaign with an increase in scoring and field goal percentage. Completing the trio is Fowles, the rookie that was putting up impressive numbers before going down with a sprained knee last week that will keep her out of the lineup for about a month.
The Sun pulled off a swap of Big Three members this offseason sending Douglas to Indiana in exchange for Whitmore. The nine-year veteran's arrival in Connecticut has sparked a career-best season for Whitmore and a league-best record for the Sun. Whalen is also off to a tremendous season, averaging career-highs in scoring, rebounding, shooting (FG% and 3-PT FG%) and assists. Jones' scoring may have dipped by a point so far this year, but she is shooting the highest percentage of her career
The defending Eastern Conference champions bring back their Big Three from a season ago, featuring the backcourt duo of Smith and Nolan, along with last season's Sixth Woman of the Year in Pierson. Much like Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs, Pierson comes off of the bench to give the Shock a spark and is averaging a career-high 12.6 points per game. Smith, the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, has already put up two 30-point games this season. Nolan has been the playmaker for Detroit, averaging a career-high 5.9 assists this season.
Fever fans will have to wait another week or so before they see their Big Three together for the first time. Catchings, who led the Fever in nearly every statistical category last year, is just about ready to make her season debut after recovering from the torn Achilles tendon suffered in last season's playoffs. She is joined in the Big Three by Fever newcomer and Indiana-native Douglas, who has shined since coming over from Connecticut during an offseason trade. White, who has been a backup in her first three years in the league, has stepped into the starting lineup and produced by far the best numbers of her career.
Finding a Big Three among the Liberty roster is a difficult task, that is because they feature a balanced offensive attack that utilizes many players. The easy choice is Christon as she ranks among the league leaders in scoring (17th) and 3-point shooting (7th). Kraayeveld and McCarville round out the Big Three, although second-year forward Tiffany Jackson could be swapped in for either of the two frontline players. McCarville, last season's Most Improved Player, is still looking to regain last year's form, when she led the young Liberty squad to a playoff berth with solid play during the stretch run.
Beard has once again been called upon to carry a lot of weight for the Mystics and the three-time All-Star has responded by leading the team in scoring (19.6 - 6th best in the league) and assists (4.1 - 11th best in the league). Joining Beard in the Big Three are her former college teammate Currie and the recently acquired McWilliams-Franklin. Currie, who scored a career-high 28 points on Sunday, is a solid playmaker on the wing. McWilliams-Franklin, a six-time All-Star, is having another solid season with her third team in as many seasons. No matter where she suits up, she produces.