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Over the weekend we talked about the Phoenix Suns’ trio of Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire, and Shaquille O’Neal being able to produce better right now than the Blazers’ young trio of Brandon Roy, Lamarcus Aldridge, and Greg Oden.  We hastened to add that this doesn’t mean we’d trade the two groups because the order will not always remain the same.  (And we like our guys anyway!)  But RIGHT NOW if you had to bet your life on one game you’d want the Suns’ trio to play it instead of the Blazers’.  This helps explains why it’s quite possible for Portland to lose to the Suns, which for some reason people were finding aberrant.

 

This got me to thinking…where do the Blazers Big Three stack up against other NBA trios?  How many other teams have a threesome that they’d gladly throw against ours right now.  I did a little pondering and this is what I came up with.  I decided the only fair way to do it would be to assume everyone is healthy, which includes Greg Oden.  However we’re considering Oden playing like he’s still coming off of surgery, as we haven’t seen the other Oden yet.

 

The way I figure it, you’d have to say the following trios are more talented, bankable, or at least able to produce significantly more statistically than the Blazers’ core right now.

 

Boston Celtics--  Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen

Dallas Mavericks--  Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard, either Jason (Kidd or Terry)

Denver Nuggets--  Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin

Detroit Pistons-- Richard Hamilton, Chauncey Billups, Rasheed or Tayshaun

Golden State Warriors--  Monta Ellis, Stephen Jackson, Corey Maggette

Houston Rockets--  Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, Ron Artest

Los Angeles L*kers--  Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum

Miami Heat--  Dwyane Wade, Shawn Marion, Michael Beasley

New Orleans Hornets--  Chris Paul, David West, Tyson Chandler

Orlando Magic-- Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu

Phoenix Suns--  Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire, Shaquille O’Neal

San Antonio Spurs--  Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili

Utah Jazz--  Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur

Washington Wizards--  Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler

 

I’m not entirely comfortable with the Nuggets, Warriors, and Wizards as there’s no way I’d touch any of those three groups with a ten foot pole were I Portland.  However all three groups are significant statistical producers so I felt it only fair to keep them in.

 

In addition the following four groups would probably merit an argument when stacked against the current version of Roy, Aldridge, and Oden:

 

Atlanta Hawks--  Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Mike Bibby

Charlotte Bobcats--  Gerald Wallace, Jason Richardson, Emeka Okafor

Philadelphia 76’ers--  Elton Brand, Andre Iguodala, Andre Miller

Toronto Raptors--  Chris Bosh, Jermaine O’Neal, Jose Calderon

 

That means the key players for the Blazers have a reasonable chance of being outmatched by their counterparts on at least 11 teams bare minimum, more likely 14, and up to 18 depending on your leanings.

 

This doesn’t necessarily mean the teams listed here are better than the Blazers (though most in that top list still are).  It does explain why expecting a guaranteed win on most nights should not yet be part of our fan repertoire.  Simply put, the players that make us most special aren’t that distinctive collectively yet.  Three years down the road that’s going to be different as our players will have grown (as individuals and together) and many on this list will be fading, as it includes mostly mature stars.  For now, though, we’re not going to win on talent alone.  It’s going to take a fight and smart play to post a good record this year.

 

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)