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July 9, 2010, 12:30 PM ET
Top Trios

by Kevin Pelton

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.

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