The NBA entered a new era on July 8, 2010.
On that day, LeBron James announced during "The Decision," that he would join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. James and Bosh signed with the Heat as free agents after failing to win a championship with their respective teams.
The Miami Heat formed their Big 3 nearly two years ago.
The trio of James, Wade and Bosh became known as the "Big 3," and changed the way many organizations tried to build their teams. Assembling multiple superstars became the new blueprint to building a championship.
The Thunder have their own Big 3, but were assembled very differently from the Heat. Oklahoma City drafted Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. OKC selected each player with their first round picks from 2007-2009, and now have one of the best young cores in the game.
Both teams have experienced success with their respective Big 3's, but which collection of stars is better?
Statistically, the two groups of players are very similar. Despite the more recognizable names of Miami's trio, OKC's three best players actually score more points. Led by three-time scoring champ Kevin Durant, the Thunder's Big 3 averaged 68.4 points per game in the regular season, compared to 67.2 for the Heat.
Miami's Big 3 is significantly taller than Oklahoma City's, so it's no surprise that they average a combined four more rebounds per game. Both groups average almost an identical amount of assists per contest, with the Thunder having a 0.1 advantage.
The Heat and Thunder had almost identical success in the regular season. OKC had just one more victory and both teams finished second in their respective conferences.
Miami certainly has the more established stars.
Wade is the only one of the six players to earn a championship ring. Both Wade and James have made the playoffs almost every year since they entered the NBA, and Bosh even led the Raptors to a few postseason appearances.
For all the criticism that James gets for having no titles, he's most likely the best player in the group. Perhaps Durant will be recognized as the NBA's top player if the Thunder come out victorious, but few people would argue that anyone is better than James.
James has won three of the past four MVP awards and had one of his best seasons in 2011-2012. However, as he plays the best ball of his career, Wade hasn't looked like the same player that led Miami to a title in 2006.
Wade averaged 22.1 points this past year, the fewest since his rookie season. He missed 17 regular season games, and has had a few awful playoff performances.
The guard was arguably the best player in the NBA, alongside James, a year ago. With the emergence of Durant and Westbrook, is it possible that Wade is now the fourth best player in this series?
Westbrook had a better statistical year, and is only in his fourth season. Wade has been playing since 2003, and has possibly seen his best days.
Harden and Bosh are the fifth and sixth best players in the NBA Finals, but they will have a tremendous impact on who wins the title.
Bosh hasn't had much of an impact this postseason because of an injury, but showed in Game 7 against Boston that he's now healthy enough to contribute. His 18 points per game led all third options during the regular season.
Harden is the league's top bench player, and has been even more effective in the playoffs.
The supporting casts in this series will play a role in who wins the title, but the team with the better Big 3 will likely come out on top.
If James can get it done in crunch time, the Heat may be on the verge of winning all those championships they predicted. If they're unable to get the job done, people may start to think of the Thunder first when they hear the term "Big 3."
To contact the editor, e-mail:
Most Popular Slideshows
- 'Game of Thrones'-like Film, 'The Queen of the Tearling,' Casts Emma Watson as Lead Star and Exec Producer [PHOTOS]
- Jackie Chan Dead 2013: Where is the Chinese Actor Amid Resurfaced Fake Death Reports? [PHOTOS]
- Asus Transformer Infinity Pad, Sony Vaio Duo, Toshiba Satellite, A Look at Intel's Haswell 4th Generation Ultrabooks and Notebooks [Photos]
- 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Movie Casting: Selena Gomez Open to Nude Role, Ready for Anastasia Steele? [PHOTOS]