After dominating during the regular season, Power delivered when it mattered the most in a 51-43 victory over 3s company in the BIG3 championship at the Barclays Center last weekend.
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) August 25, 2018
The BIG3 is rapidly becoming known as more than just an old man’s league. Ice Cube and his team managed to get the games televised live this year, and added fun newcomers like Nate Robinson and Amare Stoudemire to the player pool. With 3 on 3 basketball set to be an Olympic sport in 2020, the future looks bright for a league where players can still compete at a high level without the wear and tear of an 82 game season of full court basketball.
Though Kobe Bryant will apparently not be returning to the hardwood any time soon, there is no doubt that the BIG3 will seek out other players to join the league as there is already talks of expansion for the 2019 season. Here are 10 players (in no particular order) that I think would be perfect to join a league rapidly growing in popularity.
10. Gilbert Arenas
NBA Stats: 20.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 5.3 apg
“Agent Zero” was one of my favorite players growing up primarily due to his knack for clutch shots including the occasional walk away buzzer beater. He has spent the last few years balancing between social media antics at the expense of Nick Young and providing sports commentary on YouTube. At 36, Arenas certainly has the juice to come in and be one of the league’s most electric scorers right off the bat and has the range to be dangerous from 4 point territory.
— Oliver Maroney (@OMaroneyNBA) August 13, 2017
The idea of Gil-Zero playing in the BIG3 is not unheard of. Arenas told TMZ last year “hopefully next year” when asked about joining up. Obviously, that never materialized, but that interest may carry over to the 2019 season.
9. Tim Duncan
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) May 13, 2016
NBA Stats: 19 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 3 apg
It wouldn’t be surprising if the above video ends up being the last time we ever got to see Tim Duncan in a basketball uniform on television. That being said, his fundamentals-first game and high basketball IQ works perfectly in a 3 on 3 setting. His former teammate Roger Mason Jr is commissioner of the BIG3, and his calls to the Big Fundamental, unfortunately, were unreturned.
“Timmy, call me man,” Mason pleaded of his former teammate while on stage at the Times Center during Hashtag Sports. “Next year.”
Not even returning the phone call might be the most Tim Duncan way of declining an invite to the BIG3. However, despite being a long shot, Manu Ginobili just retired and Tony Parker has entered into the weird realm of players who wear random uniforms at the end of their careers by signing to the Hornets. I am holding out hope that the league hits a home run and gets all three of them on a roster at some point.
8. Lamar Odom
NBA Stats: 13.3 pts, 8.4 rpg, 3.7 apg
Lamar Odom was lightyears ahead of his time during his prime as an NBA player. Standing 6’10, his length combined with his ability to handle the basketball on the perimeter caused defenses headaches during the Los Angeles Lakers’s post-Shaq era. In the BIG3, his length can cause the same type of matchup issues that saw Rashard Lewis bring home the MVP trophy in the league’s first season. This opportunity could be perfect for Odom, who is currently eyeing a basketball comeback inspired by LeBron James’s incredible output as a 15 year NBA vet.
Odom will be playing in China this upcoming season, though it is not immediately clear what club he will be playing for. Some other Big 3 participants also have overseas clubs, and if Odom can fit it into his schedule it would be a great opportunity to compete back at home in some familiar arenas.
7. Derek Fisher
NBA Stats: 8.3 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 3.0 apg
Derek Fisher needs no introduction as he is one of the most valuable complimentary pieces in NBA history. A tremendous leader on the floor, DFish made up for lack of physical speed with a high basketball IQ and clutch shot making for his entire career. As recently as 2016, Fisher posted videos indicating that he was making a come back to the NBA. That didn’t pan out, but perhaps a tour in the Big 3 could satisfy the itch.
Without having to worry about full court basketball the Big 3 is at times a more physical game than the more finesse driven NBA. Fisher is no stranger to the weight room and could be the perfect “old man game” floor general to lead a new team of contenders as the player pool grows.
6. Elton Brand
NBA Stats: 15.9 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.1 apg
Brand was one of the best bigs in the league for nearly a decade. Unfortunately, he spent a ton of time playing for bad teams but still managed to score nearly 17,000 points during his career before retiring in 2016. A classic back to the basket big who has some face-up skills, the former Duke Blue Devil would be a perfect addition to a league where other throwback bigs like Glen “Big Baby” Davis and Chris “Birdman” Andersen have seen success.
10. Elton Brand
From 1999-2007 with the Bulls and Clippers:
20.3 PTS, 10.2 REB, 2.7 AST, 2.1 BLK, 50.5 FG%, 73.7 FT% pic.twitter.com/8h2ZviUxoK
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) June 18, 2017
5. Andre Miller
NBA Stats: 12.5 ppg, 6.5 apg, 3.7 rpg
As durable and consistent as they come, Andre Miller was one of the most steady and underrated point guards of the 2000s. The 17-year vet only missed 3 games due to injury in his entire career, and at one point played in 632 straight games (8 seasons straight). That kind of fortitude combined with a pass-first mentality (led the league in assists with a 16.5 ppg 10.5 apg mark for the Cavaliers in 2002) would make Miller a force in the BIG3.
8 PG's with 15K+ points & 8K+ assists: Andre Miller, Big O, Kidd, Stockton, Magic, The Glove, Isaiah Thomas, Nash. #NBATrivia
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) February 22, 2015
4. Antawn Jamison
NBA Stats: 18.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.6 apg
One of the most underappreciated scorers ever, Jamison once scored 50 in a duel against Kobe Bryant and averaged 32 ppg in a playoff series against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the 2007 playoffs. He was never known as a defender, but in the Big 3 where speed gives way to physicality, the 6’9 235 lb Jamison should fit right in. Even later in his career, Jamison showed flashes of scoring dominance off of the bench.
Jamison now is a scout for the Lakers and runs a basketball camp. Perhaps a phone call can get him back on the hardwood to grab buckets again.
3. Ben Gordon
NBA Stats: 14.9 ppg, 2.5 apg, 2.5 spg
Ben Gordon is yet another bucket getter on the list of versatile guards from the 2000s that might have been slightly ahead of their time. He stood as the source of entertainment between the Jordan era and the arrival of Derrick Rose to the Windy City. In 2017 he spent his time attempting an NBA comeback with the Texas Legends. The man can still play.
Right now Gordon may be considered too young and active to play in the Big 3 but the additions of the still-spry Nate Robinson and Amare Stoudemire show that the league is not afraid to let some of the younger guys into the fray. Gordon without a doubt would be a threat from 4 point range and can provide balance to a league that may start letting some younger players in. 30-year old Xavier Silas became the first Big 3 player to receive a call-up to the NBA in March. Gordon can use this as an avenue to reinforce his case to return.
2. Jason Kidd
NBA Stats: 12.6 ppg 6.3 rpg, 8.7 apg
His NBA coaching career has had its ups and downs, but Jason Kidd’s playing career has never been in question. Much has been made of the BIG3 trying to land high profile guys to continue to increase the brand of the league. Kidd was fired by the Milwaukee Bucks after posting a 23-22 record midway through this past season. If no coaching opportunities come his way, perhaps the 10-time NBA All-Star would consider dusting the laces off to showcase his versatile skillset one more time.
Regardless of if Kidd is in peak form or not, Allen Iverson was a big enough draw to field big crowds for the Big 3 in it’s first season despite not being in peak playing shape. Kidd’s name would carry a similar amount of weight if the league managed to get him on the hardwood playing again. At 45, Kidd is not out of the age bracket for some of the guys playing in the league and every patented behind the back pass would certainly command attention.
1. Tayshaun Prince
NBA Stats: 11.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.4 apg
There may be a little bias here because as a skinny hooper I always admired Tayshaun Prince’s game when I was coming up through middle school. The one moment that stood out for me was his block on Reggie Miller in the 2004 Eastern Conference finals that likely saved the series for the eventual NBA champion Detroit Pistons who were down 1-0.
That seems like forever ago but the long-armed, hard defending Prince only stopped playing NBA basketball 2 years ago. A lot has been made of adding more firepower and big names to the Big 3 but another brand of the league is the physicality forced by a half-court basketball game. Prince was one of the best all-around defenders in the league in his prime, and at 38 I am sure he is still more than capable of locking down the other team’s star player. He currently is a special advisor within the Memphis Grizzlies organization, but a little cardio in the summer wouldn’t hurt.