BIG3 Week 1 Preview
By Craig Ellenport June 15, 2018
Trilogy officially begins its defense of the BIG3 Championship on June 22, when Season 2 tips off at the Toyota Center in Houston. Week 1 action also marks the debut of Friday Night Basketball. If you can’t make it to Houston, you can see the Ghost Ballers take on the 3-Headed Monsters live on Facebook Watch, followed by three more game live on FS1.
Week 1 features the BIG3 debut for a bunch of hoops superstars, along with the return of several ballers from last season. Here’s a look at the matchups that will get Season 1 started:
GHOST BALLERS vs. 3-HEADED MONSTERS
A bit of BIG3 trivia: This was the first game ever played in the BIG3. Rashard Lewis poured in 27 as the 3-Headed Monsters squeaked past the Ghost Ballers, 62-60, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. That was the springboard for Sweet Lew’s MVP season that ended with a close loss to Trilogy in the title game. The Ghost Ballers bounced back and knocked off the 3-Headed Monsters in the regular-season finale, before losing to Trilogy in the playoffs. This matchup should help the season get off to a fast start, as these are two of the most experienced teams entering the season. Only four of the eight BIG3 teams feature at least four players who suited up in 2017, and these are two of them.
Lewis brought back Kwame Brown and newly-appointed co-captain Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf from last year’s squad, and he brought in Reggie Evans, last year’s rebounding champ, as the second co-captain. The 3-Headed Monsters feature three of the top four rebounders from last season in Evans (first), Lewis (third) and Brown (fourth), so expect them to rule the boards.
The Ghost Ballers shouldn’t have much trouble scoring, as they return three players who averaged double figures last season: co-captain Ricky Davis (14.8), captain Mike Bibby (11.8) and Lee Nailon (11.1 with Tri-State). New co-captain Carlos Boozer must get off to a strong start in his BIG3 debut, as the 6’9” Boozer needs to take on the 3-Headed Monsters’ big men inside.
KILLER 3s vs. 3’s COMPANY
In their only meeting last season, 3’s Company made a big second-half comeback to down the Killer 3s, 51-48, in Week 7. Problem is, captain DerMarr Johnson is the only player on this year’s squad who was around for that game. 3’s Company is one of two teams that only have two returning players from last season – the other veteran is Derrick Byars, who played for the Ball Hogs last season. Byars tied for 10th in scoring (13.4 ppg), so he’ll be relied on to pour in some buckets here, along with Johnson (9.8). In addition to the debut of new co-captains Baron Davis and Drew Gooden, expect to see significant contributions from second-round draft pick Jason Maxiell, who turned a lot of heads at the combine.
Killer 3s co-captain Stephen Jackson scored 25 points in last year’s loss to 3’s Company, and he just missed out on the BIG3 scoring title with an average of 20.9 points per game. With Jackson, captain Chauncey Billups and Mike James, who was ninth in scoring (13.6) and fourth in 3-pointers playing for Tri-State last year, the Killer 3s won’t have trouble scoring. Two burning questions for the Killer 3s: 1) Can new co-captain Metta World Peace step in right away and be the defensive force he was in the NBA? and 2) Will Jackson and second-round pick Ryan Hollins be a little rusty after spending the last two months in the studio as ESPN analysts during the NBA Playoffs?
POWER vs. BALL HOGS
History will be made here regardless of the outcome, as this game marks the debut of Power coach Nancy Lieberman – the first female head coach in a men’s professional sports league. That won’t be the only new look for Power, which only has two players returning from last season – and one of them, captain Corey Maggette, only played one week before an injury ended his season. Co-captain Cuttino Mobley, who finished third in the league in scoring (18.6 ppg), scored 21 last season in a Week 5 win over the Ball Hogs. Power’s four newcomers — co-captain Glen “Big Baby” Davis, Chris “Birdman” Anderson, Quentin Richardson and Ryan Gomes — all figure to contribute.
In that 2017 meeting between these teams, DeShawn Stevenson opened and closed the game with 3-pointers – fitting, since he ran way with the 3-point crown last season. The difference here is that Stevenson now plays for the other side, having been brought in as a co-captain for the Ball Hogs. Captain Brian Scalabrine and co-captain Josh Childress added a pair of heavy hitters to the lineup in Stevenson and Andre Owens, the former 3’s Company standout. Owens, the top overall pick in this year’s draft, was the only player in the BIG3 last season to finish in the top five in scoring, rebounding and assists. Stevenson and Owens were both in the top seven last season in minutes played, so you can expect those two to be busy again here.
TRILOGY vs. TRI-STATE
Trilogy begins defense of its undefeated championship season with all five regulars from last year back in the fold. Newcomer Dahntay Jones may have trouble securing much playing time considering the other five guys played so well together in 2017. Trilogy was the only team to score more than 500 points last year and they allowed the fewest as well. Their average margin of victory was 10.5 points. In their Week 5 win over Tri-State, they won by 18. Rashad McCants had a Week 5-best 27 points in that game, with James White pouring in 16. Co-captain Al Harrington, who was seventh in the league last season with 48 rebounds, likely rounds up Trilogy’s starting three, with captain Kenyon Martin, veteran Dion Glover and Jones rounding out the squad.
The only current member of Tri-State that was around for last year’s loss to Trilogy was Bonzi Wells, and he left that contest early with an injury. Captain Jermaine O’Neal missed the game completely, though he’s back for 2018. A healthy O’Neal can create matchup problems for Trilogy, as he averaged 12.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in the three games he played in ’17. All eyes will be on Tri-State’s two new co-captains, Amar’e Stoudemire and Nate Robinson.