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G-League Players for the 3-on-3 Olympic Teams? Why Not?

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Contributor Francis Adu ponders if we’ll see G-Leaguers competing in the 3-on-3 tournament in the 2020 Summer Olympics

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images for BEGOC

It’s official. The International Olympic Committee have confirmed the sport of 3-on-3 Basketball, both men’s and women’s, will be making its debut at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games taking place in Tokyo. While most details about the Olympic event remain unknown to the public for now, the tournaments should appeal to fans of the looser pickup games of their adolescence and spare time.

One should expect the IOC to adopt rules from FIBA’s own 3X3 World Cup sporting event that will be held for the fourth time soon from June 17th to June 21st. Those FIBA rules require 2 teams of 3 competitors playing in a half-court game with each team having an extra player for substitutions. The games have a time limit of 10 minutes or a score limit of 21 points.

Points scored in intervals of 1 or 2 (shots inside the arc and shots outside the arc, respectively) and there are no breaks necessary for a team after the opposing team scores. However, a defending team has to take the ball back behind the arc before starting an offensive possession when a defensive rebound, block, or steal occurs. Also, to prevent any stalling or sluggish play, a 12 second shot clock is implemented.

With these rules clearly deviating from 5-on-5 NBA basketball and even 5-on-5 FIBA basketball, 3-on-3 Olympic basketball could differ enough to make translating the best NBA players onto the 3-on-3 half-court trickier than most may assume. Also, with the commitments to the NBA Olympic basketball players have, it should be assumed NBA players will not be representing many if any nations in this new 3-on-3 event.

So, why not see if some players from the newly christened G-League can do the representing instead? As previously said, success in 5-on-5 basketball doesn’t necessarily guarantee dominance in 3-on-3 basketball. However, G-Leaguers come in various styles and playing backgrounds due to its talent pool having experience from NCAA, international pro basketball, or just simple playground basketball leagues. The deficiency in one or two skills that often are the sole hindrances of G-League players’ ascent into the NBA can be rendered moot for many in a 3-on-3 game.

For instance, a 3-on-3 game will usually give special favor to players with high-intensity motors and long distance shooting ability (due to shots beyond the arc now being worth 100% more than shots within the arc, instead of the usual 50% extra boost). Certain stars in the G-League such as Alfonzo McKinnie and Devondrick Walker could add “3-on-3 superstars” to their resumes due to their excellence in specific skills.

The best basketball league in the world will likely have a minimal presence in the start and ascent of Olympic 3-on-3 basketball, due to understandable priorities. However, the NBA could still profit from the new event by openly lobbying for its developmental league’s budding talents to get international recognition as also some of the best and most versatile basketball players in the world with their inclusion to the Olympics. Dozens of conceivable G-League trio combinations could bring more gold medals to their respective countries and more shine for the abundance of talent even outside of the flagship NBA league.