In the coming week, the 2016-2017 NBA season will likely be over, and in case you’re wondering how you’ll get your basketball fix over the summer, the Big3 will be making its debut at the end of this month. If you’re not familiar, the Big3 is a 3 on 3 professional basketball league founded by Ice Cube that’s designed to bring the excitement of the NBA All-Star game every weekend for 10 weeks. Some of our favorite retired players are back in the game in a half-court style setup that encourages physicality and stiff competition.
One of the league’s teams is “3’s Company” who boasts Allen Iverson as the player-coach and co-captain. Iverson’s resume includes 11 All-Star appearances, 2 All-Star MVP awards, and 3 All-NBA first team selections among many more. The Answer showed up for practice (yes, practice) on Tuesday May 30th, and warmed up by shooting threes before the rest of his teammates arrived. Iverson’s roster includes co-captain DerMarr Johnson, Andre Owens, Mike Sweetney, Ruben Patterson, and David Hawkins as a reserve.
Co-captain DerMarr Johnson played for the Denver Nuggets for a total of 3 seasons in his 16-year professional career which included the NBA as well as many other leagues internationally. While in the NBA, Johnson shot 41% from the field and 34% from three averaging 6.2 points per game as a shooting guard/small forward. His experience overseas will likely provide for some unique strategies, but given that he will be the tallest player on the team at 6’9”, his size may pose a problem for the vertically-challenged 3’s Company roster.
Ruben Patterson also played for Denver for part of the 2005-2006 season during his 11 year stint in the NBA, and brought in an average of 10 points per game at 51% from the field over the course of his career. As a shooting guard/small forward, a major weakness for Patterson will be his ability to score from distance given that his 3 point shooting percentage while in the NBA was only 17%.
Andre Owens’ (SG) experience comes mostly from playing internationally as he played only two seasons in the NBA. While in the NBA, Owens shooting percentage from the three-point line was 37% so he may be the sharp shooter 3’s Company will rely upon to capitalize from the 4-point circle . Mike Sweetney (PF) currently plays professionally overseas and brings 14 years of professional experience, 4 in the NBA, to his team. Last, but not least, 3’s Company reserve David Hawkins (G) played only in Europe during his years as a professional averaging 14.2 points per game and 47% from the field.
To prepare for game 1 against the Brooklyn Ball Hogs, Iverson has elected to fly in his high school coach to begin working out and getting into shape. There will be some different rules in this new league allowing for more physicality so Iverson will need to be ready given his 6 foot stature.
One such rule is that all defensive strategies will be allowed. This means that hand checking, now forbidden in the NBA, is fair game. This could mean trouble for an undersized player like Iverson. Hand-checking makes it so that a defender can guide the player they’re guarding in any direction they choose. When asked by Fox Sports about hand-checking, Iverson said that it benefits defenders if they’re stronger than their opponent. He went on to say that he’s glad this is no longer allowed in the NBA because he believes it’s a foul.
Iverson also commented on the 4-point shot where a player can score 4 points by shooting with at least one foot touching any part of the 4-point circle. Iverson bluntly said he’s, “Goin’ nowhere near it.” He noted that the 4-point shot will be a weapon for guys like Jason Williams, Chauncey Billups and Steve Jackson, but that he’s not strong enough to shoot from that distance.
Overall, 3’s Company is slightly undersized as a team and they may struggle with tough defense, and contending with larger players to get to the rim. They will need to rely on speed, distance shooting, ball movement, and Iverson’s 51% true shooting percentage in order to have a prayer against some of the bigger, more aggressive players in this league.
June 25th is the big day at the Barclays Center in New York. If you’re interested to see what it’s all about, you can go to www.big3.com to learn more or buy tickets.