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NBA 3on3: How The Suns Will Win

Expect plenty of these from Gortat against the smaller Nuggets line-up.
Expect plenty of these from Gortat against the smaller Nuggets line-up.

Almost two weeks ago we introduced you to SB Nation's NBA3on3 Tournament where hypothetical 3-man squads from each NBA team battle it out on paper to determine the ultimate 3-on-3 team.

30 teams were chosen by the 30 NBA blogs and two more teams were assembled using leftover players from each conference in order to get to the 32 needed to avoid including byes.If you want to see who the other blogs picked for their teams, go here.

Teams were seeded according to where they finished in the standings last season with the leftover teams being given the nine seed in each conference and bumping the rest of the teams down a spot. Here's a link to all the teams and their seeds.

Teams were organized into a bracket according to seed and conference. A handful of SBN NBA bloggers volunteered to sit on the judges' panel, and five of them are chosen to evaluate each match-up. The judges say how many games out of 20 they believe the higher-seeded team would win, and those numbers are added up to establish the teams' chance to win any one game. Percentile dice are used to judge the winner, and it takes two victories out of three to move on. So the underdog always has a chance.

All the rosters have been chosen, teams have been seeded and we are halfway through the first round of match-ups. Make the jump for a run-down of who has already advanced and a breakdown of the Suns' first round match-up with the trio from the Denver Nuggets.

So far, ten teams have moved on to the second round.



For details about the match-ups and each team's chances to win, be sure to check out the Story Stream. But now it's time to take a look at the only match-up you really care about.

6) Denver Nuggets vs. 11) PHOENIX SUNS

The Suns will take the hypothetical court for their first round series against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday. Be sure to visit the Story Stream or check back here after the odds have been determined, but for now I'm going to tell you why the Suns should be favored in this match-up.

The Rosters:

6-FOOT-4, 190 LBS 6-FOOT-6, 207 LBS
11.7 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 5.5 APG
12.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 5.5 AP
6-FOOT-7, 225 LBS 6-FOOT-8, 225 LBS
12.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.7 APG 9.4 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2.1 APG
6-FOOT-11, 240 LBS 6-FOOT-10, 225 LBS
15.4 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 0.9 APG 14.6 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.7 APG

The Match-Ups:

For the Suns I chose a more traditional guard-wing-big line-up, while Nate Timmons from Denver Stiffs decided to go with a more unconventional three-wing line-up. The contrast of styles creates plenty of mismatches for both sides and should make for an interesting game.

1) Dragic vs. Iguodala

Goran Dragic has excellent size for a point guard, but since Nate decided to leave Ty Lawson at home he's going to have to man up and defend the bigger and more athletic Andre Iguodala.

Iguodala is an incredibly versatile player capable of locking down multiple positions and scoring in a variety of ways. Contrary to popular belief, he's a deadly spot-up shooter so Dragic won't be able to leave him open on the perimeter to help his teammates. Iguodala is also a capable pick-and-roll ball-handler and isolation scorer, so Dragic is going to have to work hard to stay with him. Dragic is a very effective defender (according to, Dragic and Iguodala both gave up 0.80 points per possession last year, and Iguodala is widely considered as one of the best defenders in the league), and I have faith he would be able to hold his own.

On the other end, Dragic is better than Iguodala in basically every offensive category other than spot up shooting (per Synergy). He's a good shooter, an excellent driver and a crafty finisher. He also excels as the ball-handler in the pick-and-roll, a play the Suns figure to use frequently. We've all seen what he's capable of when he gets hot.

This is a match-up of strength against strength on both sides of the ball, and would be a lot of fun to watch.

2) Dudley vs. Chandler

Chandler is pretty similar to Iguodala in that he's a versatile player with good size and athleticism who can do a little of everything offensively. He is good both with the ball in his hands in the pick-and-roll and working off the ball as a cutter and crashing the offensive glass. He's not a particularly good outside shooter, though. Dudley may be outmatched athletically here, but he has enough size and is a smart enough player to make Chandler work for everything he gets.

Chandler is not nearly the defender Iguodala is, however, and that's something the Suns could exploit with the ultra-efficient and versatile Dudley. Dudley is most deadly as a spot-up shooter where he shot 42.7 percent from 3-point range (per Synergy). He could see plenty of open looks if Chandler has to help his smaller teammates against the Dragic-Gortat pick-and-roll. Dudley is also good coming off of screens, posting up, cutting to the basket and crashing the offensive glass, so he provides a variety of offensive options for the Suns.

3) Gortat vs. Gallinari

This is the most intriguing match-up and could go a long way toward determining the winner. A mobile center versus a big wing is a mismatch both ways. Gallinari is similar to the other two in that he can handle the ball, run the pick-and-roll and score in isolation. However, he is probably the most skilled scorer of the three and is more of a jump-shooter. Gortat is very mobile for a big man and Synergy ranks him as a good pick-and-roll and spot-up shooting defender. He may struggle a bit staying with Gallinari outside, but he's also the best shot-blocker and rebounder on the court, which could mean good things for the Suns.

Gortat won't be easy for Gallinari to defend either. He has an extra inch or two and 20 or so pounds on him but still moves like a smaller man. He's no Al Jefferson in the post, but he's good enough to take advantage of a mismatch like this. He would be tough for Gallinari to step when cutting to the basket and crashing the offensive glass. And of course Gortat is one of the best pick-and-roll big men in the entire league.

Sun' Strategy

In this setting, the Suns absolutely need to pick-and-roll the hell out of the Nuggets. Nothing but pick-and-roll. Over and over again. The pick-and-roll is deadly enough in 5-on-5, but imagine the space they'll have to run it in 3-on-3. How are the Nuggets supposed to send help to stop Gortat from rolling to the rim on his smaller man?

Goran Dragic is going to have the ball in his hands most of the time, and it will be up to him to make things happen. He is deadly in the pick-and-roll and comes off the screen looking to take it to the hole with aggression. He's also a capable isolation scorer.

Part of the advantage of the Nuggets' three-wing line-up is the ability to switch all screens, but if they were to do that against the Dragic-Gortat pick-and-roll, it would play right into the Suns' hands. Doing so takes Denver's best perimeter defender and smallest player off of the Suns best ball-handler and puts him onto the Suns' biggest player. Iguodala is really good, but let's see him try to defend the much bigger Gortat rolling to the basket. This also puts Gallinari on Dragic, and I love that match-up for Phoenix. Meanwhile we have Jared Dudley out on the perimeter, spotting up for the 3-pointer if Chandler leaves him to help or cutting back door if Chandler falls asleep.

Versatility is nice, but I'd rather have my team be great in one area than good or okay in a few. Give me the Suns' pick-and-roll over anything the Nuggets can throw at them.

Don't forget, you can follow along with the tournament here.

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