Ranking every NBA team’s Big 3

Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, James Harden, Sixers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, James Harden, Sixers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

15. team. 156. . . . Cleveland Cavaliers

15. Cavaliers — Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen

The Cavs’ move to acquire Donovan Mitchell has suddenly placed them in the contenders circle in the East. Cleveland was fighting for a top-four seed before injuries got in the way last season, and now that’s almost the expectation. Mitchell is an explosive and dynamic offensive player who has never played next to a guard with Darius Garland’s offensive talent. Last season, Jarrett Allen emerged as a top-tier rim protector who now doubles as a convenient outlet at the rim for Cleveland’s new guard tandem. There are valid concerns about Garland and Mitchell on the defensive end, but Allen (not to mention former No. 2 pick Evan Mobley, who could soon take Allen’s spot on this list) can erase a lot of those problems with his presence in the paint.

Atlanta Hawks. 14. team. 125. . .

14. Hawks — Trae Young, Dejounte Murray, John Collins

The Hawks have Trae Young, who is knocking on the door of superstardom. He alone guarantees them some measure of relevancy in the East. Atlanta’s defense fell off a cliff last season, but the arrival of Dejounte Murray — plus a fully healthy DeAndre Hunter — should help in that regard. John Collins continues to expand his offensive repertoire each season, and his chemistry with Trae is the foundation of one of the NBA’s most prolific two-man combos. Murray will have to settle into a new role offensively, but he’s too talented and too well-rounded to fail.

. New Orleans Pelicans. 13. team. 69. .

13. Pelicans — Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum

When we last saw him, Zion Williamson was already the most prolific interior scorer in basketball. A 6-foot-6 wrecking ball who cannot be kept out of the paint, and who seldom misses once he’s there. Williamson was also the Pelicans’ de facto point guard, bringing the ball up the floor, initiation the offense, and bending defenses to his will with dribble penetration. Brandon Ingram has elevated his game to All-Star level since then, while CJ McCollum’s arrival further diversifies the team’s offensive attack. The Pelicans already built a winner without Zion. His return could, if all goes well, make New Orleans a real contender.