Once upon a time, three young men made up the Oklahoma City Thunder’s core and success was built for years to come. These three men were Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, all three drafted by the Thunder franchise. Though they lost in their first Finals appearance to LeBron James in his prime, hunting for his first title, sports fanatics everywhere knew this team would master great things.
Many thought that Finals loss was just the beginning for this formidable team but in fact, it was the quick end to a big three that could have conquered the NBA. James Harden was traded before the start of the 2012-2013 season to the Houston Rockets and now people can only wonder what that team could have been capable of.
Durant and Westbrook held down the fort in Oklahoma City for the next four years, being one win away from reaching the Finals in 2016 but blowing a 3-1 lead to the Golden State Warriors. This would be the closest the this duo would be to making the Finals. But after that season, Durant headed out West to join the team that had come back and upset the Thunder in the Playoffs, the Warriors.
Today, these three players are arguably the best player on each of their teams with each having an MVP trophy on their mantle. Now the question is, who is the best player that came from this big three? Let us take a look.
Westrbook, Durant and Harden all have one MVP under their belt with Westbrook then Harden winning in back to back years. Durant though, in those two years, won the Finals MVP as he and the rest of Golden State knocked off LeBron and Cleveland two years in a row.
Though it is not fair to compare winning between these three players since Durant took the easy way out and went to the Warriors, Durant is still arguably the best player on the best team in basketball and shows up in the playoffs where you can argue that Harden and Westbrook do not.
Westbrook has averaged a triple double in two straight season which is an incredible stat but he is criticized for stat padding and holding onto the ball too much. Harden has finished high in the MVP voting in the last several seasons but that is because Westbrook and Durant have played along multiple other All Stars while Harden has run the Rockets by himself, inflating his stats.
Durant, to me, is the best player out of the three, even though some consider him a snake. He is a freak of nature as he is seven feet tall and can shoot the ball better than most people in the league. He is flexible in his spot on the floor where he can man the center position for the Warriors and be high in the league in blocks per game. He can score when needed and he is the ultimate go to man.
Harden, to me, is second best. He is the best one on one player in basketball and knows how to score, whether from his step back, Euro step or from the free throw line. He has led the Rockets to high seeds in a tough West the last few years and was one game away from knocking out Durant and the Warriors last season to make it to the Finals. The only thing he lacks is defense, but with the way D’Antoni runs Houston, it isn’t noticed that much.
Not to say Westbrook is a bad player by any means, he is still a top 10 player in the league at worst. He lacks a consistent jumper and good three pointer which is a crucial in today’s NBA. He is an athletic freak who has averaged a triple double in the past two seasons, but with the ball in his hands way too much, it is not a big surprise that he is able to accomplish this feat. Westbrook seems that he has the most trouble winning on his own and that is a main reason I rank him as third between these three.
We all have our different thoughts on this question, but in my opinion, Durant is undoubtedly the best player for his raw scoring ability, his ability to come up clutch in big moments and his adaption to play anywhere on the court. It is incredible to think that these three MVP’s all once repped a Thunder jersey at the same time and all they have to show from their time spent together is one Finals loss. Who knows what these three superstars could have accomplished together if they had never split up?