In this week's Hornets edition of around the NBA commentary on SBNation, we take a look at who would represent New Orleans in a 3-on-3 competition (as FIBA has proposed doing in the 2016 Rio Olympics) against the rest of the NBA. Though the selections themselves may not be surprising, I'll keep the suspense for after the jump...Austin Rivers' potential as a Monta Ellis-type scorer is intriguing, Robin Lopez's (aka Fro Lo) flowing locks and fiery personality would add an intimidation factor, and Jason Smith's hustle and mid-range game would be fun to watch, but unfortunately they all came up short in the selection process. We're going with the best three players on the Hornets roster right now: Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson and yes, Anthony Davis.
Unlike the point guard heavy Kings (Tyreke, Jimmer, Aaron Brooks, Isiah Thomas), the front-court tilted Knicks (Melo, Amare, and Tyson as their 3 best players but not a great 3-on-3 squad) or the who-else-do you pick Cavs (Kyrie, Varajeo and....Tristan Thompson?), the Hornets trio is not only a truly solid top 3, but their games complement each other very, very well. Yes, there are a good deal of teams with better top 3's talent-wise (which we will look at later), but each Hornet brings something unique to the table. Anderson - rebounding and 3-point shooting; Davis - protecting the rim and more rebounding; Gordon - ball-handling/versatile scoring.
Before we go any further, lets take a look at the rules of this mother of all pickup-game tournaments, courtesy of CipsNation's Steve Perrin.
- Twos and threes (even though FIBA apparently wants to make their tournament ones and twos)
- Games are one 10 minute period -- team ahead at the end of 10 minutes wins;
- UNLESS a team reaches 31, in which case that team wins (FIBA rules state 21, but that with 1 and 2 pointers)
- 7 fouls results in the bonus situation
- You can't foul out (since we didn't allow subs)
- 12 second shot clock
These rules do impact the game quite a bit, as the more athletic, up-and-down threesomes are hindered by
the halfcourt stipulation. It's basically just 10 minutes of full-tilt, all-out hoops, so look for a lot of shot-
chucking (especially with the 12-second shot clock) and defense coming at a premium. Since there is no-
fouling out, you'd think there'd be tons of hacking and grabbing, but the team bonus at 7 makes me think you
don't want to give out freebees at the line, especially late. And now on to our chances in this tourney...
With Gordon as the primary ball-handler, and his ability to penetrate/finish at the rim being a top 10 skill, this team is going to be a nightmare to defend; Ryan Anderson ain't bad from downtown, and Davis is no slouch shooting the ball either, especially if left open. Gordon and Davis can run the high pick-and-roll and (if you switch on them) you have to pick your poison with either Gordon one-on-one with a big (whom he can torch driving or crossing up and shooting) or Davis with a huge height advantage. If you don't switch, you have Gordon shooting threes or Davis rolling to the rim, which means help defense. which means Anderson open in the corner for 3 - we'll take that too. Or you can run the pick and pop with Gordon and Anderson, isolate Gordon, and let him do his thing, post up Davis (he's better down there than most think). There's a lot of options for that squad.
Anderson isn't the best on-ball defender, but certainly isn't horrible, and having the Unibrow backing him up definitely helps. Gordon is a very good perimeter defender, meaning the "team" can stick him on the opponent's best outside threat and not be too worried. And both Davis and Anderson (Ryno especially) are excellent rebounders, meaning as long as they don't run into a red-hot shooting team, they should be fine.
Obviously there are going to be more hyped teams in this tournement; Miami, OKC (do they go small with Harden or take Ibaka instead?) and the Lakers (Kobe, Howard and.... Pau right?) are clearly the top 3. But the higher profile teams such as Boston (Garnett, Pierce (old), Rondo (can't shoot)), Brooklyn (D-Will, Johnson, Lopez) and San Antonio (Duncan, Parker, Ginobili is still great but again...old) are definitely beatable. I'm more interested in the threesomes of teams such as Golden State, Denver, Indiana, Minnesota, Memphis, and Philadelphia (just to name a few), because each individual matchup makes a huge difference. New Orleans' trio isn't too shabby all things considered, and if nothing else, would prove a good barometer for how good the actual Hornets team can be in the near future.