2018 BIG3 Season Preview
By Craig Ellenport May 15, 2018
If you didn’t know what to expect last year when the BIG3 burst on the scene, that’s okay. Who knew how these former NBA stars would adapt to professional 3-on-3 ball? The players themselves didn’t know what to expect … but they brought the heat and made the first season a smashing success.
Season 2 tips off on June 22 at the Toyota Center in Houston. The biggest change this year is that games will be played on Friday nights, broadcast live on FS1 and FOX. Another difference: Rosters have been expanded from five to six with the addition of a second co-captain on each team. Of the 48 players currently on active rosters, 21 are new to the BIG3 in 2018 – including some high-profile signings like Amar’e Stoudemire, Metta World Peace and Baron Davis.
So what can we expect this season? As always, the key is how you match up against the defending champ. In the BIG3, that means finding a way to defeat Trilogy, which tore through the inaugural season and capped a perfect record with a Championship Game victory over the 3-Headed Monsters.
BIG3 rules mandate that Trilogy returns all five regulars this season to defend its title. Trilogy was the most physical team in the league last year. So the question is: How will the rest of the league combat Trilogy’s tough inside game?
Here’s a team-by-team look at how the BIG3 shapes up entering Season 2:
2017 record: 8-0
Returning Players: Kenyon Martin (captain), Al Harrington (co-captain), Rashad McCants (co-captain), James White, Dion Glover
New Players: Dahntay Jones
Coach: Rick Mahorn
In addition to coming off an undefeated season, having all five players from last year back in the fold means Trilogy already has an edge in the chemistry department. There’s no doubt the defending champs enter 2018 as the favorites to repeat.
“You can tell what their mentality is going to be: physical over finesse,” said Thomas Scott, head of basketball operations for the BIG3. “I don’t think they really have a finesse type of guy that’s going to shoot a lot of threes. They’re trying to get to the basket and post up inside.” With captain Kenyon Martin and co-captains Al Harrington and Rashad McCants, expect more of the same in 2018.
2017 record: 6-2
Returning Players: Rashard Lewis (captain), Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (co-captain), Kwame Brown
New Players: Reggie Evans (co-captain), Salim Stoudamire, Qyntal Woods
Coach: Gary Payton
After reaching the title game last season, the Monsters signed new co-captain Reggie Evans, who led the BIG3 in rebounding last season with the Killer 3s. So now this team features the reigning scoring champ (MVP Rashard Lewis) and the reigning rebounding champ. “Reggie Evans brings a certain intensity, a certain attitude that you need to match up with Trilogy,” said Scott.
Lewis is a matchup problem for Trilogy – and everyone else – because he has the size to bang inside and the skills to burn you from the perimeter. They already had one of the league’s best shooters in Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (who was named a co-captain for 2018), and added another shooter with unlimited range in Salim Stoudamire.
2017 record: 4-4
Returning Players: Mike Bibby (captain), Ricky Davis (co-captain), Marcus Banks
New Players: Carlos Boozer (co-captain), Lee Nailon, Mario West
Coach: George Gervin
The Ballers have a solid foundation in Mike Bibby an Ricky Davis, but they needed to add size in order to compete with Trilogy – and that’s where new co-captain Carlos Boozer comes in. They’ll also lean on the defensive prowess of Marcus Banks – the only 2018 draft pick taken by the team he played for last year. “Bringing Marcus Banks back is a very smart pickup,” said Scott. “He’s always been known as a tough defender – just a pest, night in and night out.”
Scott loves the IQ of this team. He also thinks Mario West, the last pick of the draft, could be a major sleeper. “A guy you forget about on the scouting report and next thing you know he’s tearing you up.”
2017 record: 4-4
Returning Players: Corey Maggette (captain), Cuttino Mobley (co-captain)
New Players: Glen Davis (co-captain), Chris Andersen, Quentin Richardson, Ryan Gomes
Coach: Nancy Lieberman
New coach Nancy Lieberman makes history on June 22 when she becomes the first female to coach a men’s professional team in any sport, and she’s taking over a team that has put together a strong roster. Co-captain Cuttino Mobley was one of the top performers in the league last season. “Cuttino can play, has a point guard mind, has vision and is a triple threat at all times,” said Scott.
Scott also likes the addition of co-captain Glen “Big Baby” Davis and first-round draft pick Chris “Birdman” Andersen. “Power has gotten better by adding Birdman and Big Baby, matching up with the size of Trilogy.”
2017 record: 3-5
Returning Players: Jermaine O’Neal (captain), Bonzi Wells
New Players: Amar’e Stoudemire (co-captain), Nate Robinson (co-captain), David Hawkins, Robert Hite
Coach: Julius Erving
After an 0-3 start, Tri-State got better as the season went along. Now they add an all-around threat like Amar’e Stoudemire and a potentially electrifying player in Nate Robinson. And don’t sleep on draft picks David Hawkins and Robert Hite, who were two of the best players at the Combine. Scott thinks this squad matches up well with the champs.
“With Amar’e Stoudemire and Jermaine O’Neal, whether you sub ‘em in or put them in together, they’re problems,” said Scott. “They can post up, they can knock a mid-range shot down, they can block shots, set up picks to free up guys. High IQ guys, and when you put that combination out there with guys like Robert Hite and David Hawkins, who can be physical down low and get around other wings and guards… The question is chemistry. How are they gonna figure it out? But I do think they have the personnel to get it done.”
2017 record: 3-5
Returning Players: DerMarr Johnson (captain)
New Players: Baron Davis (co-captain), Drew Gooden (co-captain), Andre Emmett, Jason Maxiell, Derrick Byars
Coach: Allen Iverson
With Allen Iverson focusing 100 percent on coaching this season, DerMarr Johnson takes over as captain, so 3’s Company signed two new co-captains in Baron Davis and Drew Gooden. Scott thinks they got a steal in second-round draft pick Jason Maxiell. “He’s a guy I had ranked really high before the combine,” he said. “He’s another guy that’s just a problem. He’s so big and strong. He’s not going to rely on athleticism to get rebounds, he’s going to put a body on people.”
Scott also added that Davis might be perfectly suited for the 3-on-3 game. “He’s always been a guy that can do anything – shoot it, drive it, pass it. But now you’re putting guys on an island with a limited amount of help. He’s one of the best ball handlers the league has seen and a guy that knows how to use the combination of speed and strength at that position.”
2017 record: 2-6
Returning Players: Chauncey Billups (captain), Stephen Jackson (co-captain)
New Players: Metta World Peace (co-captain), Alan Anderson, Ryan Hollins, Mike James
Coach: Charles Oakley
The Killer 3s already had a nasty streak last year with Stephen Jackson – voted the league’s best trash-talker in 2017 – and coach Charles Oakley. Throw in new co-captain Metta World Peace and it’s safe to say this team will lead the league in snarling. “That team right there is going to be a problem,” said Scott. “I think they’ve got the right attitude, the right dynamics to really take the whole thing.”
On top of the attitude, Scott likes the talent on this team as well. First-round pick Alan Anderson’s game translates well to 3-on-3 – he can play defense and has a jump shot to complement the sharpshooting of captain Chauncey Billups. Mike James returns to the league after a very solid 2017 campaign. Metta World Peace has the versatility to do a lot of things both offensively and defensively. “Metta World Peace is a wildcard for them,” said Scott. “An unbelievable pickup.”
Another intriguing angle: The Killler 3s are the only team in the BIG3 that features three players – Billups, Jackson, Metta – who have won an NBA Championship. “Let’s look at the big picture here,” said Scott. “Those guys know how to win.”
2017 record: 2-6
Returning Players: Brian Scalabrine (captain), Josh Childress (co-captain)
New Players: DeShawn Stevenson (co-captain), Andre Owens, Corsley Edwards, Jermaine Taylor
Coach: Rick Barry
Good news, bad news for the Ball Hogs. First the bad news: “I don’t know if their personnel matches up with Trilogy,” said Scott. “Corsley Edwards will help tremendously. But I don’t know if they have anyone that’s going to cover Kenyon Martin in the post.”
Now the good news: Two of their newcomers were among the best players in the BIG3 last season. New co-captain DeShawn Stevenson led the league in 3-pointers by a wide margin. Andre Owens – this year’s top overall draft pick – was the only player to finish in the top five in scoring, rebounding and assists. When Stevenson and Owens are on the floor together, the Ball Hogs won’t have any trouble scoring.
Okay, now that you’ve got the scouting report, who do you think will take it all in 2018? Tweet us @thebig3 and let us know!