2023 BIG3 Championship Preview
By BIG3 August 25, 2023
The Summer of Fire is about to end, which means it’s time for the biggest basketball event of the year: the 2023 BIG3 Championship game, which will be broadcast live on CBS from the O2 Arena in London, England at 2:00 EST on Saturday, August 26th. Let’s take a look at the matchup between our two finalists, the Enemies and the Triplets:
This will be the Enemies’ first appearance in the BIG3 Championship game. The Enemies have not traditionally been a BIG3 powerhouse, and this is Player/Coach Nick “Swaggy P” Young’s first year on the bench.
How They Got Here:
The Enemies have long been viewed as a bit of a gimmicky team: full of talented scorers, but lacking the cohesion and discipline of a serious contender. They managed to erase that reputation without compromising who they are. They still don’t move the ball much or even put much of an emphasis on attacking the rim, but they have the most talented scorers in the league. They’ve buried the toughest teams in the league under a barrage of long, contested jumpers, and they’re one game away from riding their style to a Championship.
After the first three weeks of the season, the Enemies were looking like their typical selves – talented, but too inconsistent to be Champions. In Week 1, they lost a hard-fought game to back-to-back champs Trilogy after melting down and committing some rough technical fouls down the stretch. In Week 2, they bounced back with a win over the Ball Hogs, who were as good as any team in the league for the first half of the season. In Week 3, they dropped a game to Bivouac, who wouldn’t win another game for the rest of the year.
That’s when they turned it around. They went 4-1 over the remainder of the regular season, with their only loss coming to 3’s Company. In some of their wins, they unlocked Elijah Stewart as a true #2 option while moving the ball a bit more; in others, Jordan Crawford just shot the darn lights out.
Their first playoff game was a rematch of their Week 1 game against Trilogy. This time, they kept their composure the whole way, snuffing out Trilogy’s hopes of a three-peat and ending Ryan “Hezi God” Carter’s magical rookie season. They were led by a virtuoso performance from Crawford, who put a bow on his MVP campaign with his best game of the season – he scored 27 points, shot 10-12 from the field, and managed to make a ludicrous 7 of his 8 three-point attempts.
It’s Jordan Crawford, the former Wizards standout. He’s a pure scorer capable of rising and drilling his jump shot from anywhere in any situation – if a smaller defender is on him, he can
shoot a fadeaway over him, and his silky-smooth handle allows him to create space for pull-ups forced to concede space to him on the perimeter.
He led the league in scoring while shooting 53.1% from the field and 58.3% from three-point range. Those are absolutely unheard-of percentages for a guard who mostly shoots jumpers off the dribble, especially when you consider Crawford led the league in three-pointers made. There’s a version of Crawford that enjoys drawing extra defenders and dishing it to teammates, particularly Elijah Stewart, but the most dangerous Crawford is the one that will pull up at any time and have complete confidence that his shot is going down.
Other X Factors:
The Enemies aren’t just the Crawford show. Their offense goes into another gear when Elijah Stewart, who has champagne-cork hops and a beautiful jumper, gets himself going and gives the team more options. Additionally, Isaiah Austin is a true 7-footer who can score from anywhere on the floor and is one of the best defensive bigs in the league, and Quincy Miller is always capable of getting himself a bucket when asked.
The Triplets have been a league powerhouse for years now. Behind the combination of Joe Johnson, widely considered the best player in BIG3 history, on the court and Hall of Famer Lisa Leslie on the sidelines, the Triplets won the league title in 2019. They have consistently been contenders.
How they got here:
The Triplets missed the playoffs in 2022, but bounced back in a major way this season. Rumors of Joe Johnson’s retirement from the BIG3 turned out to be greatly exaggerated, and the two-time MVP has been with the team all season.
As good as Johnson’s return was for the Triplets, the emergence of Jeremy Pargo as a true #2 option was just as important. After the Triplets lost their Week 1 matchup, they defeated Trilogy in Week 2 behind a 31-point performance from Pargo. They’ve barely looked back since, with their only other loss of the season coming to the Killer 3’s in Week 6. The Triplets have looked like title favorites from Week 2 on, and they’re 50 points away from accomplishing their goal.
It’s all about Iso-Joe. Only 47 men in the history of planet earth have scored more NBA points than Joe Johnson, and he hasn’t skipped a beat since joining the BIG3. He has range out to the 3-point line, an amazing handle for his size, and can bully smaller defenders for easy baskets down low. He knows where his favorite spots on the court are, plays at his own pace, and can
seemingly get to where he wants at will. He’s a phenomenal rebounder (he finished second in the BIG3 in total rebounds), a great passer, and can guard multiple positions. They don’t call him the GOAT of the BIG3 for nothing.
Other X Factors:
As mentioned above, Jeremy Pargo’s breakout season has been huge for the Triplets. He has a beautiful jumper and a mesmerizing handle. Much like Jordan Crawford, Pargo is capable of absolutely burying teams from the perimeter when he gets a hot hand. No player in the league has more range than Pargo – he made six four-point shots this season, while the rest of the league combined to make nine.
Guarding the rim will be Larry Sanders, a shot-blocking specialist who plays above the rim and will drain a shot in the post often enough to keep defenses honest.
That’s the matchup, and it’s going to be a doozy – prepare for an absolute heavyweight battle for the BIG3’s ultimate prize.