With FIBA recently experimenting on a worldwide 3 on 3 basketball tournament, SB Nation thought it would be interesting to look at what such a tournament might look like if every team in the NBA fielded their own 3 on 3 squad. The HQ’s Scott Campsall weighs in on what the Raptors' team might look like in that scenario.
The concept of a league-wide 3 on 3 tournament is an interesting one. Of course, limiting the roster to only three players changes the dynamic of the game a great deal, but it also allows for teams to maximize their talent by selecting their three best players and committing to a style of play that best suits those three players.
For example, the Miami Heat team would almost certainly consist of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. This is a team that may not be the best outside shooting team, however could pick and roll other teams to death, taking advantage of their elite ability to get to the basket and make mid-range jumpers.
In the case of the Raptors, things are a little more complicated. When you look at the roster the team currently has in place it is difficult to decipher who exactly their best three players are.
Calderon may be the team's best playmaker, however his lack of defensive ability makes him a liability on that end of the floor.
Jonas Valanciunas may be the teams best rebounder and shot blocker, but his inability to contribute offensively also raises question marks about his potential effectiveness in a 3 on 3 scenario.
So, who should the Dinos consider for their 3 on 3 team?
When looking at the fan vote conducted over the past couple of days, the team that received the most votes was the combination of Andrea Bargnani, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. Now, I tend to agree with the inclusion of a guy like Kyle Lowry—he brings playmaking ability, shooting and perhaps most importantly the ability to defend his man which will be key in a 3 on 3 situation.
Judging by the comments, Bargnani was, on the other hand, a controversial decision mostly due to his inability to rebound and defend his position. In my opinion, Bargnani presents an interesting piece for the Raptors in a tournament like this. His ability to shoot the ball from all over the floor makes him valuable and although his rebounding is poor, his man-to-man defense has improved. As an offensive option, Andrea is head and shoulders above any other big on the roster, and if surrounded by solid perimeter defenders who won’t let their man blow by them and can rebound the ball, he would fit nicely on their 3 on 3 squad.
Now, on to DeMar. In a hypothetical 3 on 3 tournament, you want your squad to have guys who can either shoot or handle the ball on offense and can lock down their man on defense. At this point, DeRozan isn’t a guy that has proven he can do any of those things on a consistent basis. His jump shooting is improving, but suspect and the same can be said for his ball handling. His defense just isn’t at the level necessary to stop any serious perimeter threat—this is something that was also noted a number of times in the comments.
In DeRozans place, I would nominate rookie Terrence Ross. Granted, Ross is inexperienced, however his deft shooting touch, rebounding ability and ability to guard his man on the perimeter make him a perfect candidate to stick next to Bargnani and Lowry. Having Ross and Bargnani both on the squad would help stretch the floor, giving Lowry much more room to operate offensively and make it much harder for defenders to help without leaving one of the shooters open for an easy jumper.
On defense, Ross has shown the potential to be a lockdown type of perimeter defender. The combination of Ross and Lowry would limit the blow-by opportunities for other teams, minimizing Bargnani’s poor help defense. Ross and Lowry are both excellent rebounders for guards which they will have to be to make up for Bargnani’s lack of skills in that area.
A team of Bargnani, Ross and Lowry may not set the world on fire, however their skillets do mesh well together and could surprise a few teams should they find themselves in favorable match-ups, particularly against bigger, slower teams.