Who Wins An NBA Alma Mater 3-on-3 tournament?
I've always wanted to see more games or weird matchups during NBA All-Star weekend. One thing I've wanted to see is a 1-1, 2-2, or 3-3 Scramble. Basically, in a Scramble, you have all of the players/teams line up under the hoop. First in line is on offense, next is on defense. Whoever wins that matchup (offense wins by scoring, defense wins by making a stop) becomes the offensive team, loser goes to the back of the line, and next person/team in line plays defense. First person to 15 wins (11 if there are a lot of people, 21 if a smaller bunch.)
I was wondering how the NBA could do this and I thought having players team up by college could be a fun way to do it. I went through the listing and while there were about 25 teams that could field decent squads, five squads stood up. So my question was: who would you put your money on? My ranking of the five teams is:
#5: High Schoolers - LeBron James, Dwight Howard, JR Smith or Monta Ellis
A decade ago, the high schoolers might have had the three best teams. But with the one-and-done rule shutting down the direct pipeline, we don't have as many options for this squad. Still, LeBron is LeBron, Dwight could still do some damage, and if JR Smith shows up, he could cause problems.
#4: Kentucky (White Squad) - Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns, Brandon Knight
I'm a Brandon Knight believer so I put him in over Devin Booker, who hasn't taken the step up, nevermind a leap, as I had hoped. Still, the AD/Towns duo would cause a lot of problems for opposing teams, especially on the offensive glass.
#3: UCLA - Russell Westbrook, Zach LaVine, Kevin Love
At first, I had Jrue Holiday in this lineup but I thought Zach could play better off of Russ. Love could struggle defensively against Dwight or AD/Towns (who also would post the hell out of this team) but once Russ, Zach, and Kev Love get on offense, they'll be tough to shut down.
#2: Texas - Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge. Avery Bradley
Yes, I'm a Celtics fan so maybe I'm overrating AB right now but I think his defense would be huge and he's a perfect guy to knock down threes if teams have to help on Aldridge and Durant. This team could get even better in a year or two if Myles Turner continues to improve and takes over for Aldridge. This team might be the best 2-way squad and could be the #1 overall but I gave the crown to...
#1: Kentucky (Blue Squad) - Boogie Cousins, John Wall, Eric Bledsoe
The scary thing about Kentucky's class of NBA players is that this probably isn't even the best possible version of their varsity 3-on-3 team. Replace Boogie with The Brow and I think they're even better. But I put these three together because they actually played on the same collegiate squad and would probably want to team up. Wall has been amazing this season, Boogie seems to finally be coming close to his full potential (although defense still seems like a 50-50 proposition most nights), and Bledsoe's been hampered mostly by injuries but he's having a stellar season for Phoenix. (I'm a huge Bledsoe fan. He's one of my fantasy hoops go-to guys.) If Boogie gives a damn on defense, and I think something like this could get him to focus, this squad could take the gold. They're no sure-thing but they'd be who I put my money on.
As for other schools, there were some interesting squads but most of them came a player short or didn't have the superstar-caliber guy leading the way. Duke could enter the fray if Brandon Ingram lives up to the hype, with Jabari and Kyrie already proving my doubts wrong at every turn. If this 3-on-3 actually did happen, I'd throw Duke in there as well as Michigan State's Draymond, Z-Bo, and Gary Harris squad. Washington might at least enter the conversation with Isaiah Thomas, Marquess Chriss, and Markelle Fultz. Josh Jackson might give Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins the third wheel they need, although Wiggins still needs to step up as a second wheel to help this squad place. If Chandler Parsons can bounce back from injury, Florida's lineup with him, Al Horford, and Bradley Beal could put up a fight. Then again, would they even be better than Kemba Walker, Andre Drummond and Rudy Gay?
No matter how you rank these teams, I think this is the kind of game that could add some interest to All-Star Weekend.