Three Takeaways From Season 5
By John Krolik, @krolikjohn August 23, 2022
1 – Mario Chalmers continues to think outside the box (and inside the circles)
The All-Star Game didn’t feature many fireworks from the four-point circles, as the teams combined to go just 1-7 from four-point range. Still, I remain convinced that the four-point shot has a big role to play in FIREBALL3 going forward.
I mentioned this back in Week 6, and I’m going to mention it again now. Once again, Mario Chalmers used the threat of the four-point shot strategically instead of just hucking one up on a whim. Even though he missed the only four-pointer he took in the All-Star game, he was able to create space for himself a few times by luring a defender all the way out to the circle and blowing by him on several occasions.
We’ve seen how players with “Curry range” can stretch and torture defenses in other leagues. Because players like Curry are capable of making around 40% or more of their shots from 30 feet if left unguarded, teams have to play them all the way out there. That leaves acres of space behind them and makes life much easier for the other players on the floor. Every time the Warriors play, Curry can be counted on to create at least one open look for a teammate without even having to touch the ball.
Now, onto the four-point circles. A player who makes 30% of his four-point shots is equivalent to one who makes 40% of his three-point shots. I feel like there are a number of players in the BIG3 who can get to that 30% mark.
It’s also worth mentioning that the “Curry effect” is devastating enough in five-on-five settings – imagine what it could do in FIREBALL3, where defenders already have to cover a ludicrous amount of space. If a guy like Gerald Green catches the ball at the four-point circle, his defender closes out on him, he tosses it to the top of the key, and sprints to the rim on a 30-foot backdoor cut, how is the defense supposed to stop that without leaving someone else absolutely wide-open?
2 – Aggression is always your friend
There are a lot of reasons why momentum swings can happen very quickly in FIREBALL3. The first team to 50 points wins the game. As mentioned above, there are the four-point circles. Finally, there’s the punitive bonus rule – if you make a free throw while your team is in the Bonus, you get the ball back.
It felt like there were a number of times this year where teams on the verge of being blown out scratched their way into the game by going to the hole and racking up fouls while the winning team kept trying to force a game-winning jumper. When one team puts a few four or five-point possessions together, things can change in the blink of an eye.
Power were reminded in the harshest possible fashion how quickly things can get from bad to worse in FIREBALL3. With the score at 47-35 Trilogy, Earl Clark drew a foul on a pull-up jumper, nailed it, and then Isaiah Briscoe blew past Royce White for the layup to end the game and the season. Just before that, Power gave up a five-point possession when Trilogy hit a three right after Royce White committed a technical foul. Two possessions, nine points, season over.
The point here is that those signature FIREBALL3 one possession mini-runs can be used to close out a game just as easily as they can be used to get back into one, so there’s never a good reason to stop attacking.
3 – It only gets better
Let’s go back to the final play of the game, where Briscoe blew by Royce White for the game-winning layup. Briscoe is only 26 years old, and his NBA experience consists of a 39-game stint with the Magic back in the 2018-19 season. The 31-year old White, for a variety of reasons, never got a real shot in the NBA. Glen Rice Jr., is also just 31, and also never had a real NBA career to speak of. League MVP Kevin Murphy is 32 and only played 17 games in the NBA.
When the BIG3 started, it had a reputation as where ex-NBA stars would go to squeeze out whatever basketball they had left in them before they finally retired for good. That wasn’t entirely fair back then, and it’s the furthest thing from the truth now.
Players with long NBA and/or overseas careers still have a place in the BIG3. After all, 14-year NBA veteran Amir Johnson was a major part of Trilogy’s success all year long, and had eight points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks in the Championship game.
However, the BIG3 isn’t a place where having a recognizable name will guarantee you a roster spot. It’s increasingly become a place where players go to make their name. FIREBALL3 is getting younger, the talent level is going up, and it’s full to the brim with players eager to prove themselves. It only gets better from here, folks.