The BIG3 is a professional 3-on-3 basketball league looking to fill the void that is left between the end of the NBA season and the start of the NFL. The league originally sounded like a gimmick to just bring in money – former/retired NBA players coming together to play once a week in a half-court 3-on-3 setting – but the brainchild of founder Ice Cube looks like it may have something interesting to offer. Ice Cube has been able to bring together some big names such as Jason Williams, Chauncey Billups, and Allen Iverson. He was even able to convince some NBA legends (Dr. J, George Gervin, and Gary Payton) to come out and coach these teams.
There are still some gimmicky rules to keep fans intrigued like the 4-point shot, 14-second shot clock and fewer fouls called, but Ice Cube is taking this league seriously and hopes this will become an annual mainstay. The players also look to be giving it their all, as this isn’t just some all-star showcase to parade around to fans.
Let’s take a look at which of these original 8 teams has the best chance to win the BIG3 Championship this summer.
8. Ball Hogs
Players: Brian Scalabrine, Josh Childress, Derrick Byars, Rasual Butler, Dominic McGuire
Coach: Rick Barry
The Ball Hogs are led by team captain Brian Scalabrine, who placed a premium on perimeter shooting when putting his team together. Obviously, he really wants to try and take advantage of the 4-point shot. On paper, this team seems like it could be dangerous as almost all of them can stretch the floor out to the 3-point line, they are long (no one shoter than 6’7’’), and with an average age of 35 years old, they are the youngest team in the league. Despite all of this, they don’t have a true low post force on the team. This is a half-court game, so having a dominant big to grab rebounds, protect the rim, and get easy baskets is essential. If the Ball Hogs get hot, they can cause some trouble, but more often than not, they will get worn down by the other teams’ size in the middle.
Players: Jermaine O’Neal, Bonzi Wells, Xavier Silas, Lee Nailon, Mike James
Coach: Julius “Dr. J” Erving
Team captain Jermaine O’Neal is definitely the most offensively skilled big man in this league and should be a steady force throughout the season. His surrounding team isn’t much to write home about though. Bonzi Wells may still be a serviceable scorer/defender and Mike James can occasionally heat up from deep, but before long, Jermaine will probably be hoping for his coach Dr. J to suit up and help him. Outside of those three players, the team is made up of relative unknowns. Tri-State is going to have to be carried by O’Neal if they hope to take home the first BIG3 championship.
6. 3’s Company
Players: Allen Iverson, DerMarr Johnson, Andre Owens, Mike Sweetney, Ruben Patterson, Al Thornton
Coach: Allen Iverson
Iverson is the headline name for this league and most likely the biggest reason fans will be watching the inaugural BIG3 season. Unfortunately for A.I., things are going to be pretty similar to his NBA career as he’s going to have to do the heavy lifting for his team to be successful. His team is filled out with a few lottery picks that didn’t live up to their potential, a guy who’s spent most of his career in Europe, and the self-proclaimed “Kobe Stopper,” Ruben Patterson, who never did any Kobe stopping. It’s an interesting team he’s put together, but if Iverson could drag the 76ers to the NBA Finals, he can never be counted out. He may not be as fast or shifty as he was in his prime, but a legendary scorer like “The Answer” never forgets how to get buckets.
Players: Corey Maggette, Cuttino Mobley, Jerome Williams, DeShawn Stevenson, Moochie Norris
Coach: Clyde Drexler
This is an interesting team that could surprise people. Co-captains and former teammates Maggette and Mobley joining forces was dangerous since the duo put points on the board in a hurry as members of the Clippers. Unfortunately, Maggette already went down with a season-ending injury, but Mobley still has the pure stroke from outside. The real wild card that may put this team over the top is DeShawn Stevenson. He was a tenacious player and could score from anywhere during his career. He may be a little streaky, but if he gets hot, he could definitely power the team to a few wins. If nothing else, he will definitely entertain everyone with his trash talking and attitude on the court.
4. Ghost Ballers
Players: Mike Bibby, Ricky Davis, Mo Evans, Marcus Banks, Ivan Johnson
Coach: George Gervin
Similar to the Ball Hogs, the Ghost Ballers lack a big man to give them a low-post threat, but they make up for it a bit better with athleticism, perimeter defense, and all-around scoring. Evans and Banks are both athletic guards who excel at getting to the basket and play tough defense. The two of them should frustrate most opponents. Mike Bibby is one of the better playmakers in the league and should do a good job running the show for the team. Ricky Davis, a.k.a the original J.R. Smith, was a bona fide scorer during his career. Bibby and Davis may also be the duo to pose the scariest threat from the 4-point distance – which can’t be discounted.
3. Killer 3s
Players: Chauncey Billups, Stephen Jackson, Reggie Evans, Larry Hughes, Brian Cook, Eddie Robinson, Charles Oakley
Coach: Charles Oakley
These guys were originally my favorite to win this season, but with Chauncey Billups potentially leaving the team in order to take the job as GM for the Cleveland Cavaliers, it makes the Killer 3s a bit more of a wild card. They don’t have a ton of size, but that’s never stopped Evans from being a rebound machine, and if player/coach Charles Oakley does suit up, that will definitely raise their toughness level in the post. Hughes is a solid scorer and possibly the best perimeter defender in the league. Brian Cook is a typical stretch-four, but can’t count on him for much on the inside when it gets physical. Jackson has always been a scorer, but his streaky shooting might be too inconsistent to carry the team. These guys are still stacked with some of the most talent, but without the dependable and steadying play of Mr. Big Shot, the only take the third spot on this list.
Players: Kenyon Martin, Al Harrington, Rashad McCants, James White, Dion Glover
Coach: Rick Mahorn
This team is big and tough and with one of the members of the Detroit Bad Boys as their coach, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Martin and Harrington look to be forces in the post that will be able to bully the majority of their opponents. Al even has the ability to stretch his game all the way out to the 4-point circle – making him one of the best all-around scorers in the BIG3. McCants, who recently blamed his failed NBA career on a relationship with Khloe Kardashian, was the #1 pick in the BIG3 draft and seems to be using this stage as an audition for another shot in the NBA. If he can recapture some of the talent he showcased during his days at North Carolina, he could be one of the most dangerous players in the league this summer. These guys look to have the right combination of size and scoring to make a strong push for the championship.
1. 3 Headed Monsters
Players: Rashard Lewis, Jason Williams, Kwame Brown, Eddie Basden, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf
Coach: Gary Payton
The 3 Headed Monsters really are as scary as their name would suggest. Jason “White Chocolate” Williams sadly went down with a season-ending knee injury, but this team still has too much talent. Rashard Lewis is a dangerous weapon that is a threat to score from anywhere on the court and I suspect he will be one of the leading scorers in the league. Kwame Brown is not a dependable NBA center, but he may be a perfect fit for this 3-on-3 league. He’s possibly the biggest player in the BIG3 and as long as he can clog up the middle and snatch rebounds, he will be an effective piece for his team. The player to really watch for these guys though will be Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. He was one of the best shooters to ever play in the NBA and despite being one of the oldest players in the BIG3 at 48 years old, he’s shown in the lead up to this season that he’s still got it. No matter what combination of three guys they put on the court, there will always be at least two dangerous weapons for the opponent to worry about.
With a perfect blend of size, shooting and depth, the 3 Headed Monsters are the favorites to win the first BIG3 Championship this summer.
You can watch all of the BIG3 action every Monday on FS1 at 8 PM ET or you can try to catch them live in the city nearest you during their 10 stop schedule:
WEEK 1 | June 25: Barclays Center | Brooklyn, NY
WEEK 2 | July 2: Spectrum Center | Charlotte, NC
WEEK 3 | July 9: BOK Center | Tulsa, OK
WEEK 4 | July 16: Wells Fargo Center | Philadelphia, PA
WEEK 5 | July 23: UIC PAVILION | Chicago, IL
WEEK 6 | July 30: American Airlines Center | Dallas, TX
WEEK 7 | August 6: Rupp Arena | Lexington, KY
WEEK 8 | August 13: Staples Center | Los Angeles, CA
WEEK 9 | August 20: Key Arena | Seattle, WA (Playoffs)
WEEK 10 | August 26: T-Mobile Arena | Las Vegas, NV (Championship)
Tickets here: big3.com/tickets