OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 30: Delonte West #13 of the Dallas Mavericks shoots under pressure from Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on April 30, 2012 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Oklahoma City defeated Dallas 102-99. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
This post is part of the SBNation league-wide theme. Today, each NBA blogs puts forwards their best three on three team made up of players from the team that they cover. Be sure to check around the league to see what other teams of three certain teams could put forwards.
Three on three, huh?
As a baller (if you actually knew me, you'd start laughing right here), it's the prefect mix. Two on two, and you might as well be playing the free-for-all 21. Four on four, and you're just left itching for some full-court five on five action. But three on three? Three people means more shots for you and less shots for those stupid teammates (in reality they're way better than you but you don't care). There are less players to crowd the paint so when you do put on the jets and burst away from your defender (not really, he just tripped) you can actually make a layup without worry about a shot blocker killing your shit (despite the fact that some fat dude keeps screaming "I'mma kill yo shit!" five feet away from you as you go up for said layup).
That's how I feel about it, anyhow. I've never really known how NBA players feel, though. FIBA might just change that, though, if they succeed in adding three on three to the 2016 Olympics, something that I'm all for.
If they do, I don't know how they'd pick the team from all the great players spread across the league. A much more interesting question, given the fact that this is a Mavericks blog, is which three Mavs would be picked for a three on three competition. Certainly, there is plenty of room for debate, but I picked the three that I think would make up the best team based on these rules, and why.
For those interested in the specifics, here are the rules this tournament would be played under based off of proposed FIBA rules for three on three, with a few changes. I'll run down the key rules just so everyone is on the same page. The game will last for one 10-minute period, unless one of the team reaches 31 points. The scoring will be normal, two for a shot inside the three point arc and three outside it (not 1's and 2's). For the sake of this exercise, I did not pick a substitute, and as a result, players can't foul out. One big thing to note: there is a 12-second shot clock. This all but eliminates the ability to run complex sets and sophisticated offense. Finally, this game is played in a half-court set with alternating possessions, so no fast breaks or transition opportunities will be available.
His place on the team is locked down, vault-style, with the key thrown into the depths of the Pacific Ocean. Really, of the entire Mavericks roster, he's the only no-brainer. Dirk is perhaps the best shooter in the game, and certainly top five. It doesn't matter if the shot he's taking is ten feet away from the basket or 28, or if there's a hand in his face or not, or even if he's shooting off one or two legs, he can make it, and often.
There's no need for me to keep waxing on and on about Dirk's unique brilliance as a player. You know exactly who he is. Instead of picking the next two most talented players for the Mavericks, I'm going to take two dudes who will compliment Dirk's game. He's the star.
A relatively late addition to the team (my two guard/one forward team was just too small), Brand earns his place because he's the most versatile big man on the team (I considered Kaman, Marion, and even Brandan Wright). His jumper is not as good as Kaman's, but it's close enough. His defense is phenomenal, and since there's no transition game there's no need to worry about him being slow. And while his post-up game might be lacking, it's not really going to be a part of the offense at all.
If not post-up, what is Brand's role offensively? There's really only three things he needs to focus on: spotting up, setting picks, and rolling hard if the lane opens. Brand was a 45% shooter from 10-15 feet and hit 43% of his long two's last year, so when he finds room for a shot he's a clear threat. However, without a penetrator that can draw a help defender away from him, Brand won't see himself open a lot.
That's where West comes in. Here's an example of a player who is not on of the top three most talented. Hell, he's not top five. But for this team, he fits. With Dirk and Elton, this team already has two big men with jumpers, so West's role on this team is to create easy, open looks for those two. Thanks to his excellent drive and kick ability and natural quickness, this should be a task that Delonte will prove excellent at. His perimeter game is of lesser importance, but plenty dangerous as well.
He also doubles as a feisty defender. No, he's not as versatile as a premiere defender like Shawn Marion, but he can give some gritty, tough coverage to an opposing guard. His two way game is what gives him an edge up on other Maverick guards like Collison, Mayo, and Beaubois.
This three on three is set up to take advantage of two major factors: the shot clock and two-way players. Both big men will stay on the perimeter while West tries to beat his man and create an easy shot. Likely, there will be a shot blocker just itching to give weak side defense, so an accurate pass should result in a mid-range jumper much of the time. Trouble? The short shot clock running down? Dirk is there to bail out a possession with a crazy shot. This may not be the best offensive team, but they should be able to get a good shot every time they get the ball.
This won't be the case for all the teams. Some of the teams that look like early favorites (Los Angeles, Memphis, New York) all have big men that need to post their man up to score. Between Brand and West, the Mavs three on three team boasts a great defender in the post and on the perimeter. Bring a well timed double team against one of the star big men (Howard, Randolph, Stoudemire) and the first player he passes to won't even have time to make a second pass. In effect, the 12-second shot clock can be used as a 4th defender if you play it right.
Once you look past the number of star players that will surely make up the other teams, it becomes a lot easier to realize that very few of them are as versatile and as prepared to succeed with this set of rules than the Mavericks trio. They are hardly the most talented bunch, but with the rules that have been laid out, I think they could beat any team out there if a few things go their way.