A review of the New York Knicks’ “Big Threes” since LeBron James joined the Miami Heat.
One could say the term “Big Three” was coined when LeBron James made his decision to join the Miami Heat, but anyone who has played NBA Jam knows there has always been one-to-three players who have made up the faces of any particular team.
For the New York Knicks, they’ve tried to create some lucrative trios of their own. Unfortunately, without much success. In light of the tenth anniversary of LeBron James taking his talents to South Beach, let’s take a trip down memory lane and identify the “Big Three” of each Knicks team since 2010.
2010-2011: Amar’e Stoudemire, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler / Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups
This season featured two “Big threes” because of the blockbuster three-team trade which sent Carmelo Anthony to New York where he spent seven seasons. Even though the Knicks missed out on signing LeBron James, by landing Stoudemire, it was really the first time New York had signed a star player in quite some time. Coupled with Gallinari and Chandler – who were 22 and 23 years old, respectively, at the time – this was a solid group that Knick fans knew and loved.
After the Carmelo Anthony trade, the bonafide big three evolved into Anthony, Chauncey Billups and Stoudemire. Mike D’Antoni had a pairing who could run the pick-and-roll in Billups and Stoudemire, after STAT had run it to perfection with Hall-of-Famer Steve Nash during their Phoenix days. New York finished 42-40 that year and got swept by Boston in the first round of the playoffs.
2011-12: Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler, (Jeremy Lin*)
The Knicks played 66 games in the lockout-shortened season but fans will never forget the sensation that was Linsanity. However, for a majority of the season, the “Big 3” consisted of Anthony and Stoudemire, with Tyson Chandler at center. This trio averaged 17.1 points per game and was a fixture at the Garden. This team, in particular, had a lot of depth, with 3-point sniper Steve Novak and J.R. Smith coming off the bench. This group made the playoffs again but lost in five games to the Miami Heat.
Of course, throw Lin into the mix and you know the rest. He had a remarkable stretch that captivated fans around the world.
2012-13: Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, and JR Smith
This was undoubtedly the best season New York has seen since the turn of the century. They finished 54-28 and second in the East and advanced to the second round of the playoffs under head coach Mike Woodson. Stoudemire’s role began to decline as he appeared in only 29 games and started none of them, battling with injury issues. Players such as Steve Novak, JR Smith and Jason Kidd stepped up. This team was well put together and had a lot of potential. Anthony locked up the scoring title with 28.7 points per game. Smith brought a ton of intensity off the bench, averaging just over 18 points per game en route to winning the Sixth Man of the Year award. And Tyson Chandler anchored the defense in the middle.
2013-14: Carmelo Anthony, JR Smith and Raymond Felton
This team finished 37-45 under Woodson. A stark contrast to the 54 wins they had in the previous year but certainly better than 17. Anthony was still the main guy in New York, putting up 27.4 points per game. This team also had Metta World Peace and landed Andrea Bargnani from Toronto in an instantly regrettable trade. While Felton was far from the third best contributor on the team, his presence signified the lack of depth at the point guard position after being blessed with Jason Kidd and Jeremy Lin’s play in previous years.
This season is one most Knick fans want to forget and it caused a lot of tension within the organization. Phil Jackson hired Derek Fisher as the head coach and New York went 17-65, finishing dead last in the NBA. This team was comprised of forgettable names, such as Jason Smith, Shane Larkin, Cleanthony Early and others who contributed very little on the floor. This squad did not record its sixth win until mid-January either. Anthony is the only player that stands out on this depleted roster. New York finished 27th in the league in scoring at 98.4 points per game and allowed the 10th most points per game at 101.1.
2015-16: Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony
Another season where it’s hard to say the Knicks had a “Big Three.” Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis were the two main guys on the team. They were accompanied by the likes of Jose Calderon, Lou Amundson and Langston Galloway. Remember Jimmer Fredette was there for a hot second, too. On the bright side, it became quickly apparent that the team hit a home run with the selection of Kristaps Porzingis in the previous June’s draft. The Latvian big man finished second on the team in scoring at 14.3 points per game and became a fan-favorite (remember, we’re talking 2015-16 now).
2016-17: Kristaps Porzingis, Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose
The addition of Derrick Rose created a “Big Three” made for the headlines, but not so much for the court together. Rose was largely considered a rental since he departed after one season, but he did make some contributions when healthy. This ended up being Anthony’s last year as a Knick, and although things looked bad already, they would only get worse. Rose averaged 18 points per game on 47% shooting from the field in 64 games, all of which he started.
2017-18: Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr.
Porzingis shined this year and continued to prove his draft-night doubters wrong in leading the team in scoring at 22.7 points per game. While the offer sheet was regrettable, bringing back Tim Hardaway Jr. created an outside option to offset Porzingis. They were the main guys, but other players made notable contributions such as Enes Kanter, Mindaugas Kuzminskas and former Creighton University standout Doug McDermott for a small amount of time.
2018-19: Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Tim Hardaway Jr.
This was a bad year all around. New York again finished with 17 wins and in the basement of the league. They sent Porzingis and three others to Dallas for DeAndre Jordan, Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Matthews and a pair of first-round picks in 2021 and 2023. It’s hard to pick a “Big Three” from this roster, but lottery pick Kevin Knox and second round sensation Mitchell Robinson would have to be included. While Hardaway Jr. was sent south along with Porzingis, he was probably the best veteran on the roster to start the season.
2019-20: RJ Barrett, Mitchel Robinson and Julius Randle
Barrett and Robinson represent the cornerstone pieces of this Knicks team. New York should definitely look to build around the two of them moving forward. Julius Randle has his detractors, but in the right spot, he could shine. It will be interesting to see where these three players reside five years down the road. Will they represent the start of something good in New York?
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