WEEK 3 POWER RANKINGS
By Braden Stuchen July 3, 2023
Wow, what a wild Week 2 in the BIG3 – only two undefeated teams remain, and only two teams have yet to grab a win. Here’s a look at the wide-open BIG3:
Tier 1: The Undefeated
It’s pretty much impossible to look better than Tri State has through the first two weeks. Captain Jason Richardson is your early-season MVP. He’s shot the ball extremely well, slashed to the bucket when the opportunity has presented itself, and been a great leader, but we’ve come to expect that out of J-Rich at this point in his BIG3 career.
What’s really stood out is how versatile he’s been – Richardson played center growing up, and he’s gone back to his roots over the first two weeks. He’s doing a lot of work inside on post-ups, tip-ins, and rolls to the rim, and he seems really comfortable controlling the game from the paint.
The rest of the team looks rock-solid – Justin Dentmon is one of the league’s best shot-makers, Devin Ebanks has shown that he can score from everywhere on the floor, Ray Nixon is rock-solid, and new acquisition DeShawn Stephens had a fantastic game in Week 2 after looking a bit out of it in Week 1. Dr. J’s team has shown nothing resembling a weakness, and its 20-point blowout of Power was a true statement win.
The Ghost Ballers haven’t looked nearly as dominant as Tri State have, but their defense has been stellar and 2-0 is hard to argue with. If they can get just a little bit more movement and spacing on offense and Chris Johnson could find a way to but a bit more pressure on the rim, they could be nearly unstoppable.
Tier 2: 1-1 and feeling good
Ball Hogs: They lost to Enemies after their dominant Week 1 win, but they hung in the whole way, only losing by a final score of 51-49. Their ball movement and off-ball cuts remained sharp, and they mostly stuck to what made them so successful in the first week of the season.
It took a tremendous shooting performance from Enemies (Jordan Crawford in particular) to hand the Ball Hogs a loss, so I’d expect to see them back in the win column before long. It will be interesting to see how much of Center Jeff Ayres we see in the coming weeks – he’s a capable shooter for a big man, but the offense seems to flow better when the team goes small with DaJuan Summers as the de facto center.
Triplets: Two-time MVP Joe Johnson hasn’t quite settled in yet, and shot just 14-42 from the field over the first two weeks of the season. Fortunately, Jeremy Pargo stepped up in Week 2 with an absolutely virtuosic performance, keeping the ball on a string, splashing shots all the way out to the four-point circles, and looking like a superstar in his own right. If he can keep up
anything resembling that level of play, Johnson will be able to take all the time he needs to settle back into the rhythms of FIREBALL3. And if Johnson and Pargo can play at a superstar level together, this team might be headed for another championship run.
A set-back for the champs, who were on the wrong side of Pargo’s masterful performance and consequently suffered their first loss since July 10th of 2022. The fact they kept that game relatively competitive shows you just how hard they are to beat, and I wouldn’t expect to see them struggle much more this season. It would help if Isaiah Briscoe could get his inside game going again – he’s shot the lights out from the perimeter in the first two weeks, but has uncharacteristically had some trouble getting his shots at the rim to fall.
Like Trilogy, they just need to shake off their Week 2 performance, a complete shellacking at the hands of Tri State and a red-hot Jason Richardson. Their offense didn’t even look bad as they were getting blown out, and the team still has all the size, skill, and discipline it needs to make a deep playoff run, so there shouldn’t be much reason to worry.
Power and Trilogy will play each other in Week 3, so one of those two teams will fall to 1-2, but I’d expect both teams to end up making the postseason.
3 Headed Monsters:
A good bounce-back win for 3HM in Week 2 after a lopsided defeat to Power to start the year off. The big question for 3HM so far this season is when the synergy between 2022 BIG3 MVP Kevin Murphy and Reggie Evans, maybe the most dominant force in BIG3 history, will come. So far, Murphy has shown the ability to score in bunches and Evans has shown the ability to punish teams inside with his physicality, rebounding, and unorthodox but effective offensive game, but the two players don’t seem to be playing off each other much yet.
There’s a lot to like about this team through two weeks. Their Week 1 loss was a hard-fought game against Tri State, who have been the class of the league so far, and in Week 2 they were able to outclass 3’s Company even though their outside shot wasn’t falling.
It’s hard not to love the way Frank Nitty plays and the way the rest of this team plays off of him. He puts so much pressure on defenses with his speed and handle, he always makes the correct pass when he draws help defense, and he creates extra possessions by being an absolute menace on defense and the glass. Donte Greene, who does an excellent job creating good looks for himself and never plays out of control, is an excellent sidekick for Frank Nitty on offense, and the rest of the team all play with the kind of energy and discipline you’d expect out of a team coached by Charles Oakley.
The Enemies got into the win column with a fantastic performance against the Ball Hogs, and could easily have beaten Trilogy in Week 1 if they didn’t lose their composure late and grab themselves a few technical fouls. The team still doesn’t feature a ton of ball movement, but they can overcome that with their blend of energy, length, and ability to make tough shots from the perimeter. This is not a team that should ever be slept on.
It might be time to worry about where this team will find consistent offense. They’ve been relying on quick-trigger outside shots instead of really working through plays or trying to break defenses down, and it has yet to work for them on any kind of consistent basis. Captain Gerald Green and his teammates are more than capable of knocking down shots in bunches, but they need to find better ways to set those shots up.
Tier 3: Still Looking for Win #1
Aliens have been just a bit too perimeter-focused through the first two weeks, with the de facto swap of DeShawn Stephens for Janis Timma making it tough for them to get offense at the rim. On top of that, Captain Dusan Bulut has uncharacteristically spent the first two weeks of the season. When he finds his shot, the team stops settling for early-clock threes, and they get back into their signature style of ball movement, they should be able to get themselves into the win column.
Stagnant offense has been a problem for this team as well, as they’ve been far too willing to watch Michael Beasley play iso-ball on the perimeter and get forced into tough shots. Beasley can make those shots, but that doesn’t make it an effective way to run your offense. They need to get back to what they were doing in the second half of last year and get Beasley some catches inside the arc and get more comfortable cutting around him and using him as a playmaker – when they were doing that, they were as good as any team in the league.