The Five Best BIG3 Players of All Time
By John Krolik, @krolikjohn June 2, 2022
On the eve of the BIG3’s fifth season, here’s a look at the best 5 players to ever lace’em up in league history, with a few honorable mentions for good measure.
1) Joe Johnson
2019, Triplets: 21.9 PPG/7.5 RPG/3.9 APG
2021, Triplets: 22.8 PPG/10.4 RPG/3.6 APG
2-Time League MVP (2019, 2021)
2019 League Champion
This was not a hard decision. After playing 44,234 NBA minutes (20th all-time, ahead of a list of Hall-of-Famers that includes Hakeem Olajuwon, Bill Russell, and Michael Jordan), Joe Johnson decided to try his hand at FIREBALL3. Iso-Joe entered the BIG3 in 2019 as a member of the Triplets, an expansion team, and there’s been no stopping him ever since.
In his rookie season, Johnson led the league in scoring, won the MVP award, and won a Championship with the Triplets in their first year of existence. In 2021, he led the league in scoring again, won his second MVP, and led the Triplets to a 6-2 season, which was tied for the best record in the league. The Triplets lost in the semi-finals to the Three-Headed Monsters, but it’s clear that Johnson was the class of the league.
Johnson’s ability to score from anywhere on the floor, court vision, and ability to use his 6’7, 240-pound frame to grab rebounds and guard multiple positions have made him the best player in BIG3 history as of this writing.
Johnson played so well in the BIG3 that he received a 10-day hardship contract with the Celtics in December of 2021. He appeared in one more game, scored a basket, and brought his career minutes total up from 44,234 to 44,236. (Fun fact: Due to his appearance with the Celtics this season, Joe Johnson could conceivably win a championship ring if Boston wins the series.)
How much longer will Johnson be able to dominate the league for? Only time will tell, but as of now there’s no question who the GOAT of FIREBALL3 is.
2) Rashard Lewis
2017, 3-Headed Monsters: 21.3 PPG/7.0 RPG/2.0 APG
2018, 3-Headed Monsters: 10.5 PPG/4.3 RPG/1.8 APG
2019, 3-Headed Monsters: 12.5 PPG/5.9 RPG/1.8 APG
2021, 3-Headed Monsters: 9.6 PPG/6.1 RPG/1.5 APG
2017 League MVP
Lewis’ production has fallen off since he won the first-ever BIG3 MVP, but he’s still productive, and deserves his props for helping to shape FIREBALL3.
It’s impossible to talk about FIREBALL3 without talking about versatility. At 6’10 with the speed and handles of a wing and a beautiful three-point stroke (Lewis made a tidy 1,787 threes over the course of his NBA career), Lewis certainly fits that bill. When he led the league in scoring and won the MVP in the first ever BIG3 season, he showed the world what it takes to be a truly special player in the FIREBALL3 format.
Even though Lewis hasn’t been a top scorer since 2017, he’s always been a crucial part of the 3-Headed Monsters, and currently serves as their captain. Even though they’ve never won a league title, the Monsters have been perhaps the most consistently successful team in BIG3 history, having made the playoffs every season. That’s a big point in Rashard’s favor. Will this be the year the Monsters finally break through and go all the way? With a new coach in Reggie Theus and Lewis still at the helm, don’t be surprised if they do.
3) Corey Maggette
2017, Power: (Only appeared in one game)
2018, Power: 16.9 PPG/7.1 RPG/3.1 APG
2019, Power: 19.6 PPG/6.6 RPG/1.6 APG
2018 League MVP
2018 League Champion
It’s only fitting that all three League MVPs should be on the list. Accuse me of a lack of creativity if you must. Maggette’s time in the BIG3, especially his 2018 season, deserves to be remembered.
As stated above, if there’s one quality that a player needs to thrive in FIREBALL3, it’s versatility. In 2018, Maggette was 2nd in the BIG3 in points, 2nd in assists, and 3rd in rebounds, so he fits that bill.
If there’s a second quality that every BIG3 player should have, it’s physicality. In FIREBALL3, the whistles are quieter than they are in other leagues, so a player needs to be able to hold his own. Maggette, who was known for using his Mr. Olympus figure to power his way to the basket in the NBA, did just that in the BIG3. That he was able to this after having torn his Achilles in 2017 is truly stunning, and he deserves a place on this list.
4) Reggie Evans
2017, Killer 3s: 10.1 PPG/10.9 RPG/1.0 APG
2018, 3-Headed Monsters: 15.5 PPG/10.3 RPG/2.0 APG
2019, 3-Headed Monsters: 11.4 PPG/10.9 RPG/1.0 APG
2021, 3-Headed Monsters: 14.5 PPG/11.6 RPG/1.6 APG
Lord of the Boards. God of the Glass. King of the Carom. Titan of the Tip-In. Baron of the Box-out. Patron Saint of the Put-Back. Sultan of the Second Shot. The Royal Rebounder.
There are only so many ways to say it (I came up with as many as I could think of): Reggie Evans is, by far, the best rebounder in the history of the BIG3. He’s led the league in rebounding every single season, making him the only player to lead the league in any statistical category for all four of the BIG3 seasons that have taken place so far.
Evans has 349 rebounds in his four-year BIG3 career. If we total up the rebounds for the second-best rebounder in every season of the BIG3 – again, we’re not comparing Evans to the second-best rebounder in league history, but the best non-Evans rebounder the league was able to produce in every season – it comes to 286. That’s a difference of 63 rebounds. The only time someone was within 10 rebounds of Evans was in 2018, when Carlos Boozer pulled down 77 rebounds to Evans’ 82. Just mind-boggling stuff.
It’s not like Evans was a one-trick pony, either. He averaged a double-double every season, and was a crucial part of the 3-Headed Monsters from 2018-2021, who, as mentioned before, have been a playoff contender every single season. All respect to the BIG3’s Chairman of the Boards.
5) Stephen Jackson
2017, Killer 3s: 20.9 PPG/5.0 RPG/2.4 APG
2018, Killer 3s: 17.1 PPG/7.7 RPG/1.7 APG
2019, Killer 3s: 15.9 PPG/5.3 RPG/1.1 APG
2021 League Champion as Coach of Trilogy
During his NBA career, Stephen Jackson won an NBA Championship when he legendarily gave Spurs Coach Greg Popovich a requested dose of “nasty” in the 2003 playoffs and became a folk hero in the Bay Area when the “We Believe” Warriors upset the #1 seeded Mavericks in the first round of the 2007 Playoffs.
In his first three seasons of the BIG3, he was one of the best scorers in the league, finishing second in that category in both 2017 and 2018. However, his greatest success in the BIG3 came when he stepped to the sidelines last season, and won the Championship in his first year as the Head Coach of Trilogy. Here’s to the best player/coach in the BIG3’s short history.
Honorable Mention: Leandro Barbosa
He’s only been in the BIG3 for one season. But it was a seriously incredible season. Only Joe Johnson scored more points than him. He led the league in assists, and finished second in assist-to-turnover ratio to Jason Richardson, who averaged just 2.4 assists per game. He tied with Johnson for the league-high in 3-pointers made with 16, and shot 43.2% from deep compared to Johnson’s 32.0%.
That’s some ludicrous stuff, and I don’t see the legendarily quick “Brazilian Blur” slowing down any time soon. What I do see happening sooner rather than later is the Ball Hogs, the team Barbosa now serves as the Captain of, making the playoffs for the first time in BIG3 history. He’s also currently serving as a Player Development coach for the Warriors, meaning that as of this writing he’s four games away from winning another NBA Championship. If that happens, Barbosa, who has a naturally bright personality anyways, should come into the 2022 BIG3 season in a seriously good mood.
Honorable Mention: James “Flight” White
Known in his earlier years for being perhaps the best dunker on the planet, White has established himself as an all-around force in the BIG3. He can score, and he’s been a consistent force on defense, using his surprisingly large frame to lock down players at multiple positions while being able to provide help, and was named the BIG3 Defensive Player of the Year in 2017. As a four-year member of Trilogy, the team he now captains, he’s also the only two-time champion in BIG3 history, and his versatility (there’s that word again) is a major reason he was able to get Trilogy to the promised land twice.
Honorable Mention: Jarrett Jack
Jarrett Jack came through the BIG3 like a comet. In the 2021 season, he led Trilogy with an average of 19.7 points per game. Trilogy, led by Jack, went on to win the league championship. Jack is not expected to return to the BIG3 for the 2022 season, so you have to admire the elegance of his short FIREBALL3 career — he came, he won a championship, and then he moved on. That’s what I’d call efficiency.
Honorable Mention: Ricky Davis
Standing at 6’6, Davis is a Classic 3-level scorer. He’s tall and athletic enough to finish at the rim, he’s able to create his own shot in the midrange, and he can step out and hit the three. (He also made three shots from the four-point circle in 2018, so maybe he’s a four-level scorer?) A Ghost Ballers mainstay since Day 1 and the team’s Captain starting in 2021, the 42-year old Davis is the BIG3’s all-time leader in total points. Here we acknowledge the most consistent scorer in league history.
Honorable Mention: Al Harrington
At 6’9, 245 with perimeter skills, it’s never been easy to guard Al Harrington. He was able to score consistently throughout his 16-year NBA career, and he was a dominant offensive force in the first two years of the BIG3. In 2017, he averaged 15.5 points per game and was a member of the Trilogy team that took home the championship. In 2018, he led the league with an average of 18.0 points per game. In both seasons, he was given the self-explanatory Too Hard to Guard Award.