Note: This is the first part of a week-long series where each Ridiculous Upside contributor gives an opinion on the NBA D-Leaguers that they’d pick for their Big3 squad. To learn more about the league, make sure to read our piece from early May where we break down the unique rules of Ice Cube’s new league.
Buzz around the inaugural BIG3 3-on-3 basketball league season continues to simmer. Budding fans have enthusiastically awaited the league tip-off in Brooklyn on June 25th, where many NBA legends such as Julius Erving, Gary Payton, Allen Iverson, and Charles Oakley will coach many NBA fan favorites of the 2000s such as Stephen Jackson, Reggie Evans, Bonzi Wells, and Rashad McCants in these games.
Of course, we at Ridiculous Upside will be cheering on D-League alumni Ricky Davis, Mike James, Xavier Silas, Dion Glover, Rashad McCants, James White, Eddie Basden, Rasual Butler, Dominic McGuire, DerMarr Johnson, Derrick Byars, Ivan Johnson, and Marcus Banks for the best of success in the new venture.
However, we’re also curious what the BIG3 league could be if the league had a bit more current D-League flavor. So, naturally, here are the five D-Leaguers from this past 2016-17 season who may add some entertainment and competition to BIG3.
To deliver on both the entertainment and competition qualifiers, former Delaware 87er Nate Robinson shall receive our first round pick. The “Super Soldier Kevin Hart” has drawn the adoration and ire of countless fans, teammates, opponents, and coaches at nearly every team Robinson has played for in his prolific pro basketball career. Brave yet aggravating, diminutive yet athletically awe-inspiring,
Robinson can never turn his frantic energy off and, as a result, can never not draw eyeballs when he is on the court. Besides being an irresistible attraction on the court, Robinson also proved during his brief stint in Delaware he had much of his explosive scoring chops still at hand with him shooting 41% from 3. Hopefully, Nate will serve well as this BIG3 squad’s dynamic ball-handler and go-to scorer when all else fails. At the very least, Nate’s constant chattering and occasional highlight dunks will stave off any fears of monotony.
To help cover defensively for Nate Robinson’s lack of height defensively, Chris Obekpa shall be the next pick for this BIG3 squad as we hope his almost mythological rim protecting ability becomes even more unfair within the BIG3 league’s halfcourt setting. Obekpa carried over his shot blocking prowess from his NCAA careers at St. John’s and UNLV to his rookie NBADL season as a Santa Cruz Warrior.
Leading the entire NBADL in block percentage while coming off the bench, Obekpa will live to fill the BIG3 crowd’s ears with the constant din of a basketball smacked violently, all from the power of his force field hands. The Nigerian born athlete should also provide loads of alley-oop opportunities offensively to bring the house crashing down with applause rare among the BIG3 games. After all, many of the BIG3 players’ knees are not what they once were.
The third pick for our BIG3 D-League based squad will be Tyler Hansbrough, still the ultimate grit merchant. The 31 year old Tar Heel legend still threw his body around with reckless abandon to swipe rebounds, absorb contact at the rim, and antagonize opponents while boosting the Fort Wayne Mad Ants to a playoff berth in the contentious NBADL Eastern Conference.
Psycho T’s über-aggressive style may put off some but few can deny its frequent effectiveness. The 6’9”, 250 lb. bull can make up for Obekpa’s lack of body mass or shooting touch inside. Coinciding with his on-court skills, Hansbrough being in the league can also add some appeal to Middle America.
The fourth pick of our hypothetical BIG3 expansion draft will be Jordan Crawford, another professional bucket getter. In 2016-17, Crawford had an outstanding season for the Grand Rapids Drive, which ended with him earning NBADL All-Star honors and, better yet, a 10 day contract in March 2017 with the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans.
Having developed his game enough to finally show hints of a more efficient approach to scoring, Crawford could end up the sleeper star of the entire BIG3 if his recent form translates at all to the 3-on-3 contests. It is difficult to know for sure but there are sillier bets to make than on the man infamous for posterizing LeBron James.
The final pick to complete this BIG3 roster will be Damien Wilkins, perhaps the only current NBADL player who was alive when Rick Barry still played in the NBA. Wilkins should feel comfortable playing in a league of players mostly of his age group. In fact, Wilkins’s confidence should soar after proving last season as a 15 points per game scorer for the Greensboro Swarm he can still thrive even among hyper-athletic 22-year-olds on the court.
The former All-NBADL selection complements Nate Robinson and Jordan Crawford well as a perimeter player who doesn’t need many touches of the ball to bring value but can also provide secondary scoring and ball movement if the moment requests for him. Plus, Damien gives us a chance to recruit his uncle Dominique Wilkins as a potential head coach for our team. One must always hope.