A reader was curious which trios in modern NBA history have ranked best by combined WARP. Here’s the top 10:
Year Team WARP Best Second Third 1992 CHI 54.3 Jordan Pippen Grant 1987 BOS 47.4 Bird McHale Parish 1997 UTA 47.3 Malone Stockton Hornacek 2005 PHX 47.1 Marion Stoudemire Nash 1996 CHI 47.0 Jordan Pippen Kukoc 1991 CHI 47.0 Jordan Pippen Grant 1994 UTA 46.8 Stockton Malone Hornacek 1995 UTA 46.1 Stockton Malone Hornacek 1996 UTA 44.8 Malone Stockton Hornacek 2004 MIN 44.8 Garnett Cassell Hoiberg
Only once in the last 30 years has a group of three players on the same team combined for more than 50 WARP. Last season, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh totaled 57.8. As discussed in my analysis of the Heat, that number will likely come down due to diminishing returns, but this still has a chance to be one of the best trios in recent memory.
In truth, most of these groups were really great duos with a solid third man. This is especially true of Kevin Garnett and Sam Cassell; Fred Hoiberg contributed just 3.6 WARP to their cause. Just two of the top 10 trios (the 1991-92 Bulls and 2004-05 Suns) saw three players total better than 10 WARP.
As far as team success, only the Bulls trios won the championships. Two more teams (the 1986-87 Celtics and 1996-97 Jazz) reached the NBA Finals before losing, while most of these trios were eliminated in the conference finals. One notably exception: the 1994-95 Jazz, which was upset by Houston in the opening round.