The whole idea behind this mixed NBA/WNBA 3x3 tournament began with a response to the FIBA/IOC interest in adding 3-on-3 to the Olympics and the U.S. women actually winning FIBA's first-ever 3x3 tournament.
While the SB Nation - NBA network weighed in on what that would mean for the NBA and what potential combinations there might be, a few of us here thought it could be fun to speculate about what FIBA's idea of a mixed tournament would look like with NBA & WNBA players. We started out with thewiz06 suggesting a U.S. mixed 3 on 3 team comprised of members of the men's and women's senior national team, which was pretty easy to come up with.
Hypothetical Team USA mixed 3x3 senior national team
LeBron James - Male Player
Kevin Durant - Male Player
Candace Parker - Female Player
Diana Taurasi - Female Player
Of course there's room to debate who should be on that team - you could argue, as people are at SBN's Golden State of Mind, that a true NBA post player would be more valuable in the half court setting - but it's hard to dispute that it would be difficult to find a more dynamic and versatile team of NBA and WNBA players.
One of the reasons that team would work well for the event (which was not explicitly mentioned in the original post) is that scoring is by 1s and 2s instead of 2s and 3s, which means that shots from beyond the "3-point arc" are worth twice shots inside the arc and thus even more valuable than normal especially given that the first to 21 wins.
J.A. Sherman of SB Nation's Welcome To Loud City also had some interesting notes on strategy that are worth glancing over too.
Given these rules, what is the ideal team to assemble? Here are some of the characteristics that we would value the most:
- Everyone must be able to hit open shots from 20 feet and in.
- Ability to run quality screen and rolls.
- Ability to finish at the rim.
- Good one-on-one skills.
- Ability to play trapping defense.
With that in mind, I move back to our discussion of 3x3 teams for the 10 NBA/WNBA cities, divided into their respective conferences - independent of nationality - that we've had here over the last few days. Not only did we have fun putting together those teams but, for whatever it's worth, I think at least a couple of us would enjoy a mini-mixed 3x3 tournament at NBA All-Star games instead of the current shooting stars event, logistics notwithstanding.
Anyway, we speculated on the teams, you voted on them, and we've arrived at two finalists: Team Indiana & Team Los Angeles. Below is a brief look at their strengths and weakness, with links to the previous posts on the entire field.
Eastern Conference finalist: Team Indiana (Fever/Pacers)
- Tamika Catchings, 6'1", F, Indiana Fever
- Katie Douglas, 6'0", G/F, Indiana Fever
- George Hill, 6'2", G, Indiana Pacers
- David West, 6'9", F, Indiana Pacers
Strengths: Given the increased value of 3-point shooting, having Douglas and Hill on the floor along with West in the post would be difficult to guard - Hill shot 36.7% from the longer NBA 3-point line this past season and Douglas is currently shooting 43.8% this season from the shorter WNBA 3-point line and would certainly be a threat from the FIBA line. Catchings is shooting 38.9% from the WNBA 3 this season, though she was essentially a non-factor from long-range in the Olympics, shooting 16.7%.
West would be a key part of this team, whether he's used on the low block or out of a pick & roll/pop situations with Hill, who has been very good in those situations - with so much space and so much less help in a 3x3 scenario, West could back down smaller defenders on the block and take bigger defenders outside to make perimeter shots.
All of these players are capable of passing and Catchings adds a dynamic of being able to score efficiently at the rim against most WNBA defenders. And of course, a Catchings/Douglas combination should have no problem handling most WNBA opponents.
Weaknesses: The other side of the lacking help and space in 3x3 is that players capable of beating defenders off the dribble in isolation situations are also valuable and if there's a weakness for this team it's that none of these players are known as dominant one-on-one players relative to the competition.
The other weakness relative to other squads is that Hill is the smallest NBA player in the field, which could be a liability though he's a solid NBA defender. The problem is that with Hill and West, they would struggle to guard the league's more dynamic wings (e.g. Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony).
Western Conference finalist: Team Los Angeles (Lakers/Sparks)
- Kobe Bryant, 6'6", G, Los Angeles Lakers
- Steve Nash, 6'3", G, Los Angeles Lakers
- Candace Parker, 6'4", F, Los Angeles Sparks
- Kristi Tolliver, 5'7", G, Los Angeles Sparks
Strengths: This team was the overwhelming favorite in the Western Conference and it's not hard to see why: Kobe Bryant's post game has really developed over the course of his career and with little help and Nash being a 42.8% career shooter and 39% shooter last season that would be really difficult to guard. And for whatever we think of Bryant as a person, we all know about his ability to score against most defenders in the league in isolation situations. Meanwhile, Nash's ability to create in space with Bryant off the ball would be hard to stop.
But Team L.A. also poses a major matchup problem with Parker on the floor - she can do just about everything and would be valuable as a passer, rebounder, and scorer in this setting and difficult to guard. Toliver would probably come off the bench for this team and as a 42.1% 3-point shooter would be a threat from long-range.
Weakness: Defensively, this team could struggle as neither their WNBA players nor Nash are particularly well-known for their defensive ability. Against bigger NBA players, they could also find it challenging to stop much inside. When Parker isn't on the floor, this team could really struggle to outrebound bigger opponents and even with Parker on the floor, neither Bryant nor Nash are going to keep a lot of NBA opponents off the boards.
Another minor weakness is that neither Bryant nor Parker are the prolific 3-point shooters that some other teams might have on the floor, which could put them at a disadvantage especially depending on how much less accurately Toliver shoots from the longer "3-point arc".
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Which team would win in the FIBA format (1s & 2s, one 10-minute period OR first to 21 points, FIBA "3-point line", etc)?
Vote in the poll below, defend your pick in the comments in addition to any thoughts you have about the idea of a 3x3 tournament at the Olympics or the mixed 3x3 tournament (which the U.S. did not enter this year).