Season in Review: Ball Hogs
By John Krolik, @krolikjohn November 7, 2022
It looked like this might be the year things turned around for the Ball Hogs. Since the inception of the BIG3, the team have been perennial basement-dwellers. However, after a respectable 3-5 2021 campaign and Leandro Barbosa’s emergence as one of the best players in the league, 2022 looked promising.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well for the Ball Hogs in 2022. The team had to deal with some horrible luck, particularly when it came to star player Leandro Barbosa.
As stated above, Barbosa was one of the BIG3’s best players in the 2021 season. He finished the season second in the league in points per game, and led the entire league in assists per game. His speed with the ball allowed him to blow by any defender who got too close, and if they sagged off of him he would burn them with his unorthodox but deadly accurate three-point jumper. He was to be the rock upon which the Ball Hogs built their church.
It didn’t work out that way. Barbosa, who replaced Brian Scalabrine as Team Captain during the off-season, missed Game 1 of the season, which the Ball Hogs lost, because of his responsibilities as a player development coach for the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors. He was back in the lineup for Game 2, but he was clearly still getting his legs under him, and shot 3-16 in another Ball Hogs loss.
In Week 3, the Ball Hogs claimed their first win of the season behind a dominant Barbosa performance. He scored 24 points on 9-12 shooting from the floor, and the Ball Hogs were able to defeat reigning MVP Joe Johnson and the Triplets. A hot shooting game from Tri State was enough to defeat the Ball Hogs in Week 4, and in Week 5 things went from bad to flat-out horrible. In a game against Aliens, Barbosa went down with a serious lower body injury, which caused him to miss the remainder of the season.
The Ball Hogs went on to lose the next game, and finished the season with a league-worst 1-5 record. Needless to say, they missed the playoffs, and have still never participated in BIG3 postseason play at any point in the history of the league.
It’s going to be a tough road for the Ball Hogs in the 2023 season. Barbosa’s injury, and his new job as a full-fledged assistant coach for the Sacramento Kings, may well keep him from suiting up for the Ball Hogs. The team is desperately short on shot creation outside of Barbosa. Co-Captain Jodie Meeks is one of the best shooters in the league, but is exponentially more effective catching and shooting than he is creating for himself. Outside of Barbosa and Meeks, the Ball Hogs didn’t show a ton of offensive firepower.
It’ll be up to Rick Barry, who remains one of the most competitive humans on planet earth, to find a new plan for the Ball Hogs if they want to finally break through and make the playoffs in 2023, because it looks like the days of being able to rely on Barbosa may be over. If the team does not manage to find a lot more playmaking and shooting in the offseason, it’s hard to see how they will finally reward their ultra-loyal fans with a postseason berth.