Ever since LeBron James took his talents to South Beach, the term Big Three is often thrown around the league. It was perhaps first popularized in the 80s with the Celtics' frontcourt of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, but the concept of a high-end threesome has been part of the game for a long time.

NBA's 'Best Big 3s' Slideshow


Honorable Mention: Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics

The Celtics and Lakers, two teams with high hopes for the 2012-13 season, fell way below expectations due to poor play and unfortunate injuries. Even as their respective Big Threes showed bright spots, they vastly underperformed, explaining their absence from this glamorous list. Rajon Rondo's injury was a devastating blow for the Celtics, and the musical chairs of a starting lineup for the Lakers made it nearly impossible for them to succeed. If these two teams can hold onto their core, we hope to see a more effective year in the upcoming season.


No. 5: Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford

Even with the early round departure in the 2013 NBA playoffs, the Los Angeles Clippers had the greatest season in franchise history. This success is attributed to the likes of Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford. Paul, an annual MVP candidate, has clearly righted the ship in LA, and Griffin has helped the frontcourt of Lob City with his thunderous dunks and improved mid-range game. Jamal Crawford is a perennial 6th Man of the Year candidate, and his veteran mentality has helped the young Clippers locker room.


No. 4: Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Mike Conley Jr.

After losing Rudy Gay in 2013's most controversial trade, the Twin Towers in Memphis proved they had the talent to lead the team without their leading scorer. Marc Gasol continues to solidify his post and mid-range game, not to mention winning his first career Defensive Player of the Year award. Veteran Zach Randolph continues to outrebound everyone in the league, as his veteran presence in the young locker room has catapulted Memphis into a championship contender. Mike Conley Jr. proved throughout the 2013 regular season and playoffs that his success this year hasn’t been a fluke, and he can lead this team.


No. 3: Paul George, Roy Hibbert, George Hill

Although Indiana was blown out in Game 7 in Miami, the Big Three of the Pacers took giant steps this season even after losing Danny Granger to injury. Young star Paul George verified himself as a future NBA MVP candidate, getting it done all year offensively and defensively, a luxury very few teams have on their resume. Roy Hibbert is quietly dominating the paint and has shown his mobility and polished post game, along with his frontcourt leadership. George Hill has been a solid distributor at point guard ever since Darren Collison went down in 2012, and was arguably the most consistent Pacer this year. Watch out Miami, this young Indiana team is going to be great for many years to come.


No. 2: Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker

The Spurs could easily be No. 1 on this list, especially after they mopped the floor with the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference Finals. Even with Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili in their twilight, Coach Gregg Popovich continues to defy Father Time as he coaches his team to success every year. Ginobili always finds his way to the hole with his silky smooth left-handed drive, and he comes up with clutch shot after clutch shot. Duncan, arguably the best power forward of all time, continues to show why they call him "Mr. Fundamental," as his mid-range shot frustrates opponents and his post game seems to evolve on a game-to-game basis. The Western Conference Finals solidified Parker not only as a top point guard in the NBA, but as a top player in this league. His sharp playmaking skill is apparent game in and game out, as he seemingly never makes any blatant mistakes.


No. 1: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh

I know, I know, you all saw this coming. In reality, this was a tough call due to the superb play of the Spurs this season. But the Heat are the defending champs, were the best team in the regular season and won 27 straight games. And, oh yeah, they have the best basketball player on the planet in LeBron James. Even after Bosh and Wade's injury-filled post season, the Big Three in South Beach continue to get it done with their athleticism, defensive tenacity and passion to repeat as NBA champions. The numbers don't tell the whole story, as Bosh has been played out on the perimeter more than ever in his career, attempting to stretch out Roy Hibbert and other big men to clear lanes for Wade and James. Wade came to play when it mattered, with 21 points and nine rebounds in the Game 7 thrashing of the Pacers.

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-- Follow Patrick Bates on Twitter @pbates13.