Who Had the Best MVP Season BIG3 History?
By John Krolik, @krolikjohn May 9, 2022
Four seasons of BIG3 basketball are in the books, and four MVP awards have been handed out to three players. Today, we ask a simple question: out of all the MVPs, who had the best individual season in the history of the BIG3? Let’s take a look:
#4) Corey Maggette, 2018: 16.9 Points, 7.1 Rebounds, 3.1 Assists for Power
Corey Maggette’s best skill in the NBA was his ability to get himself to the line. The BIG3 prides itself on a more physical style of play. Given those two factors, you would have been justified in thinking Maggette’s game wouldn’t have translated to the BIG3. However, you would have been wrong. Maggette’s stats don’t quite match up to the other players who won the BIG3 MVP award, but the Duke alumni and 14-year NBA veteran is the first player to win the BIG3 Championship and the league MVP award in the same season.
#3) Rashard Lewis, 2017: 21.3 Points, 7.0 Rebounds, 2.0 Assists for The Three-Headed Monsters
Rashard Lewis was ahead of his time. Lewis was effective for the Sonics and was a well-regarded small forward for the first half of his 16-year NBA career, but it wasn’t until he got to Stan Van Gundy’s Orlando Magic that he showed the world what a power forward with a deadeye shooting touch could really do. In the 2008-09 season, Lewis was named to the All-Star team when he averaged 17.7 points per game as a full-time power forward and led the league in three-point shots attempted and made – in fact, over half of Lewis’ shots came from behind the arc, which would have previously been unfathomable. In a league where nearly every power forward and most centers can now knock down the three-point shot, Lewis was one of the first true “stretch fours.”
By the time Lewis came to the BIG3, it wasn’t nearly as hard to figure out what to do with a player with the size of a big man and the skills of a guard, especially in FIREBALL 3. Ironically enough, during his MVP season, Lewis did the majority of his damage from inside the arc. He led the league in points per game despite going just 2-22 from three-point range, but even though his outside shot was off, his versatility made him a perfect fit for the inaugural season of the BIG3. Even though the Three-Headed Monsters lost in the championship game, Lewis was able to set the blueprint for the kind of player who could dominate in the BIG3.
#2) Joe Johnson, 2019: 21.9 Points, 7.5 Rebounds, 3.9 Assists for Triplets
Before Joe Johnson became “Iso-Joe,” he was a key member of the 7 Seconds or Less Suns, who proved that free-flowing basketball – the kind of basketball that’s played in the BIG3 – was the way of the future. Johnson could spot up and shoot, he could pass, he could defend multiple positions, and he fit perfectly into the D’Antoni system that valued quick ball movement and versatility above all else.
After he left the Suns for the Hawks (and saw his salary increase from $2 million to $12 million), he did what the Hawks asked for him and became the Iso-Joe we’ve come to know and love today, developing one of the deepest bags in the league and becoming and averaging over 20 points per game for five straight seasons. (He also crossed up Paul Pierce so hard he made the 2008 Finals MVP look like he was searching for a lost contact lens, which is a play that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.)
In the BIG3, Johnson has been able to combine the versatile version of himself we came to know in Phoenix with the professional scorer he evolved into in Atlanta and Brooklyn, and the results have been impressive. Not only did he dominate the league statistically in 2019, but he led the Triplets to a championship.
#1) Joe Johnson, 2021: 22.8 Points, 10.4 Rebounds, 3.6 Assists for Triplets
It wasn’t easy to choose between Johnson’s two MVP seasons. His statistics were better in 2021, but the Triplets failed to win the championship in 2021. Still, it’s hard to argue that Johnson improved in his second BIG3 season, and he even played enough to get a 10-day contract with the Celtics, allowing him to end his career on his own terms with the team that drafted him. Johnson turns 41 in June, but don’t be surprised if he tops himself yet again this upcoming season.