Go to work Goran! You're our best hope. Time to unleash the Dragon!
On Monday, I introduced SB Nation's NBA3on3 Tournament. In response to the possibility of 3-on-3 basketball being added to the 2016 Olympics, every NBA blog on the network is putting together their own 3-on-3 team made up of players currently on their teams' rosters. Nationality and current injuries are not taken into account, so anybody on the roster is fair game. In the real thing teams also include a sub, but for this event we're going to stick with the top three players.
Once all the rosters are in, they will be seeded and placed in a 32-team bracket. A panel of six SB Nation bloggers will judge each match-up and set the odds. The winners will be determined by a roll of the die, so there is still hope even if a team seems outmatched. Ultimately, we are going to have one team left standing and one blog will earn all the bragging rights.
For this exercise, we are assuming basic FIBA rules will be followed. Games will be played in the halfcourt and shots will be worth 2 and 3 points (rather than the 1 and 2 points currently used for the real FIBA 3-on-3 games). A 12-second shot clock will be used. The winner will be either the team with more points at the end of a ten-minute period or the first team to score 31 points, whichever comes first.
Now that the rules and background information are out of the way, it's time for the fun part. Let's pick our squad!
1) Goran Dragic
- Measurables: 6-foot-4, 190 pounds
- 2011-12 Basic Stats (as a starter): 18 PPG, .490 FG%, .379 3FG%, .839 FT%, 3.5 RPG, 8.4 APG, 1.8 SPG
- 2011-12 Advanced Stats: .567 TS%, .518 eFG%, 111 ORtg, 106 DRtg, .139 WS/48, 1.55 WP48
Dragic is an obvious pick for this team. He's arguably the best player on the entire roster, so he has that going for him. He's also the best shot-creator in the backcourt and somebody on the team will need to handle the ball after all. Dragic isn't a perfect fit for 3-on-3 as he loves to get out in transition, but even without that part of his game he brings a lot to the table.
Versatility is a great thing to have in 3-on-3 ball, and Dragic certainly has that. He has the size and athleticism to match up with both point guards and shooting guards defensively. He's great with the ball in his hands but he can also play off the ball if he needs to. He can shoot from outside, finish in the paint with floaters and runners and can also take it all the way to the rack. He can run the pick-and-roll or create a shot all by himself in isolation. And we all know he can get hot in a hurry. Remember this?
- Measurables: 6-foot-11, 240 pounds
- 2011-12 Basic Stats: 15.4 PPG, .555 FG%, .649 FT%, 10 RPG, 0.9 APG, 1.5 BPG
- 2011-12 Advanced Stats: .578 TS%, .555 eFG%, 115 ORtg, 103 DRtg, .172 WS/48, .190 WP48
Luis Scola has a valid claim for this spot as his skill-set would fit in very well on a 3-on-3 team, but in the end Gortat was simply a much better player last year and so I have to go with the Polish Machine.
Gortat is very mobile for a big man and should be able to cover both power forwards and centers pretty well. He is an elite pick-and-roll finisher (1.23 points per possession according to MySynergySports.com) and would play very well with Dragic. Gortat is also solid enough as a cutter, post player, mid-range shooter and offensive rebounder that opponents would have to respect him even when he's not rolling to the basket after setting a pick. Finally, Gortat is pretty decent passer for a big man, an important trait for 3-on-3 basketball.
3) Jared Dudley
- Measurables: 6-foot-7, 225 pounds
- 2011-12 Basic Stats: 12.7 PPG, .485 FG%, .383 3FG%, .726 FT%, 4.6 RPG, 1.7 APG
- 2011-12 Advanced Stats: .575 TS%, .547 eFG%, 115 ORtg, 109 DRtg, .121 WS/48, .162 WP48
Michael Beasley was the runaway winner of Monday's poll with over 50 percent of the vote. However, after looking at all the data and spending a lot of time thinking about it, it is clear that Dudley is simply a much more effective basketball player, despite the gap in athleticism or perceived natural talent.
Beasley is certainly more capable of taking over a game than Dudley is. However, Beasley's dominant games are few and far between, while Dudley's performance is much more consistent. I am not a judge, but if I were I'm not sure I'd be willing to judge this team as if Beasley was locked in and feeling it, since the opposite is true far more often. Therefore, I chose the more reliable Dudley to complete our squad.
Dudley will probably be one of the least athletic wings in this entire tournament, but that hasn't stopped him yet in his NBA career. Dudley again provides versatility, with the ability to defend multiple positions and hold his own in almost any match-up. He is a very smart player that understands what it takes to win and will do anything the team needs him to. Dudley is one of the best spot-up shooters in the NBA (1.21 PPP). The former collegiate power forward can still do work in the post and is very effective on the offensive glass. He is a much-improved ball-handler and has also developed the ability to shoot running off of screens. Basically, he can do a little bit of everything, and with top notch efficiency to boot.
Bringing it All Together
What this team lacks in big names and top-end athleticism it more than makes up for in basketball IQ, hustle and chemistry. All three of my choices are smart players who can complement each other well.
A Dragic-Gortat pick-and-roll could be devastating for their opponents, especially with Dudley in the corner waiting to shoot the open 3-ball should his man collapse on Gortat. With only three defenders on the court, Dragic should have plenty of driving lanes as well.
I can see a lot of give-and-goes and back-door cuts involving Dragic as well. And if the clock starts to run down, Dragic can always put his head down and drive to the basket.
The Suns may not have any individually dominant players, but as a team, Dragic, Gortat and Dudley would be pretty darn tough for any team to slow down.