Note: This is the fourth part of a week-long series where Ridiculous Upside contributors give their takes on D-Leaguers that they’d pick for a BIG3 squad. The series began on Monday with Francis Adu giving his squad. On Tuesday, Dakota Schmidt continued the series by discussing his own team. Just yesterday, Cole Shelton continued the series by talking about his squad. To learn more about the BIG3, make sure to read this piece from early May where we broke down the league’s unique rules. We’re conclude the series tomorrow with a crew of great basketball minds giving their take on who has the best squad.
With the first overall pick for my Big3 team, Jasmine Brown will select the Raptors 905 C.J. Leslie. Leslie was a college sensation of North Carolina State. His 15.1 points and 7 rebounds helped lead the Wolfpack to back to back NCAA tournament appearances. The 2014 NBA D-League All-Rookie Third team translated his game from college to the D-League.
During his first season with the 905. Leslie helped push the squad to an NBADL title as he put up 13.6 PPG and shooting 55 percent from the field in the playoffs. From his smooth jumpers to hanging around the basket for offensive rebounds in the paint, Leslie got it done, showing that his attitude and athleticism makes him all the more versatile as a player. Coinciding with that, Leslie stood as one of the best wing defenders in the D-League as he helped push the 905 to being the elite defensive unit in the entire NBADL.
To accompany Leslie, I will select point guard Lorenzo Brown of the Grand Rapids Drive. Averaging 23.6 PPG, 7.7 rebounds and 4 assists on 48.5% from the field and 35% from beyond the arc this past season, Brown would be a great offensive weak for the Big3 team. His other features such as his defense and playmaking skills are strong factors into why he is selected second overall for my Big3 team.
With the help of Leslie and his versatility, Brown will have much needed help, as he doesn’t have to play on the ball as much. Both have great defense and both can get to the rim and make shots around the perimeter.
With the third pick, I select center Keith Benson from the Sioux Falls Skyforce. The two-time NBA D-League All Star was named to the All-Defensive team and All-NBA D-League First Team during the 2016-17 season. His size and his strength has proven to be a tough matchup for opposing players. Benson averaged 20.5 points this past season and shot 60.2 percent from the field on 11.4 field goals attempted. Benson’s ability to push through with the defenders and take his shots whether it be a right hook shot or taking it straight up the middle, Benson has the ability to take it to a lot of opponents.
To close out the five man roster, Reno Bighorns’ guard Isaiah Cousins and Texas Legend’s forward Jameel Warney will be our reserves.
For Cousins, his short time in the D-League has not been too shabby. As a rookie, Cousins averaged 17 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4 assists per game on 45.4 percent from the field on 14 attempts. Cousins can also add some fun to this team as he’s sensational with his assists and can use his shake and bake footwork to get around defenders. He can provide great presence off of the bench as he should be able to work well with Benson, Leslie or Brown.
And finally for Jameel Warney, the Texas Legends forward put up a show in the D-League during the 2nd half of the season. During that period, Warney has averaged 22 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists on 62% from the field. He would be a great candidate of pushing the team when they seem to start slowing down, as he shows no signs of doing so when he plays. Warney can be the physical and mental push for his team on the bench, and will do so when its his turn to play on the floor. That physicality is evident by Warney collecting 3.9 offensive boards per game as he regularly used his strong 260 pound frame to just bully opposing players.
All of the players selected would be a force if they were a Big3 team and it would certainly be fun to see if this were a real thing. Who knows, maybe in the future they might be.