Finally we have ourselves a tough one of these. For the most part the last few I've blogged have been relatively easy which isn't all that fun. What I love about this exercise is the debate that it causes, but if everyone agrees because it doesn't include 3 tough choices then it takes away from the fun a little bit. But not with this one. For the sake of this question we're talking about the primes of three multiple champions and some of the best to ever play their position in the history of the NBA. Playoff killers, guys that changed the game, it's hard to argue with whatever order you end up with. First though we need to establish what the "prime" is for each of these guys. I'm going to have this be their best individual season where their powers were at an all time high. After looking it over here is where I net out for each guy
It just so happened to work out that all of these guys were 27 years old in those selected seasons so like we always do, let's look at each season before determining our final order
2018-19 stats: 26.6 points / 7.3 rebounds / 3.3 assists / 1.8 steals / 49% FG% / 37% 3P% with 1.9 3PM / 119 Ortg / 105 Drtg
You'd be hard pressed to find a more dominant season than what Kawhi put up in TOR last year. Despite playing 60 games due to load management, the man was a monster. Remember, at the time we had no idea what Kawhi would look like since he played like 9 games as a Spur the year before. Well all we got was the best season of his career. Then once we got to the playoffs, well we know what happened. He carried that team on his back to the top of the mountain. Took down the always hyped Sixers, took out the league MVP, and then caught some breaks against GS but was just as dominant in the Finals. This was the season where Kawhi firmly asserted himself into "the best player in the league" conversation and as we've seen this year it was not a one time thing.
2008-09 Stats: 30.2 points / 5.0 rebounds / 7.5 assists / 2.2 steals / 1.3 blocks / 49% FG% / 31% 3P% with 1.1 3PM / 115 Ortg / 105 Drtg
It's been a while but let's not forget what a problem prime Wade was. This was the season he snagged a scoring title, and also was his career high season in 3PM, assists, steals, blocks, and Ortg. Made a First Team All NBA, All NBA Defensive 2nd team, and was 3rd in MVP voting. That year he led the league in FGM and points while being 2nd in steals, 3rd in win shares, and 7th in assists. Pretty impressive shit coming from a shooting guard. Like Kawhi he was a beast on both ends and the eye test was something different compared to other Wade seasons.
2015-16 stats: 30.1 points / 5.4 rebounds / 6.7 assists / 2.1 steals / 50% FG% / 45% 3P% with 5.1 3PM / 125 Ortg / 103 Drtg
I feel confident in saying this Steph Curry season was the best offensive season I've ever witnessed in person. I mean the guy went 50/40/90 while taking 11.8 3PA a night and shot 45%. Like what the fuck. This was before everyone hated the Warriors and Steph was worth staying up past your bedtime for. You didn't want to miss a thing. The guy made 402 3PM!! He won his second MVP, was All NBA First team and you could make the case this was the season that really set Steph apart historically. We had never seen a season like this from him prior and we haven't since. That 2015-16 run was something special, despite ending in embarrassing fashion.
So what's my order?
Start: Steph Curry
Bench: Kawhi Leonard
Cut: Dwyane Wade
It wasn't easy, but Steph had the most historic season I've ever seen so he gets the start for me. You become one of 9 players to throw up 50/40/90 and make 400+ threes while also averaging nearly 7 assists, you're starting for me. I know what I'm giving up defensively, but that's why I'm keeping Kawhi. I'm not starting him because he needs load management and we don't need to run him into the ground. That version of Kawhi proved he could carry a team to the title himself and gives you that elite two way production. That obviously means I'm cutting Wade which feels wrong because that season was so dominant, but I'd rather pair the shooting/playmaking of Curry with Kawhi. I feel like that's the way to go.
Call me crazy if you want, but first you have to give me your order.