Ranking Top 10 BIG3 Players: Rashard Lewis Is the Alpha Dog
And now for the BIG3 player rankings you didn't know you couldn't live without until this very second.
Five games into Ice Cube's summertime baby, we have a pretty good idea of who's showing out. These standout performers deserve our proverbial fist bumps, hat tips and cool-person nods.
To be clear: We're not projecting who could dominate this league. We're past that. These rankings are based on everyone's play thus far. Those who have been impacted by injuries and playing time are at a disadvantage, but such is life. Maybe Allen Iverson can make the cut next year.
Stats, team records and anecdotal gold mines all went into shaping each player's placement. And don't worry: TurboStats.com has done a fantastic job providing enough data for us to do a deep dive worthy of ruffling Lou Williams' feathers.
10. Jerome Williams, Power
Games Played: 5
Per-Game Stats: 7.4 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.6 blocks, 50 percent shooting
Other Notable Stat: Leader in offensive rebounding percentage (24)
Someone is surpassing Reggie Evans' offensive rebounding percentage (19). This is not a drill.
Sure, Jerome Williams has totaled 36 fewer minutes than Evans through his first five cameos. But he's also seven years Evans' senior, so who cares?
Williams also owns the best plus-minus (plus-35) for one of the BIG3's three best teams. Most importantly: He's still dunking and cutting loose after made free throws. And if anyone bet on him averaging more assists than Allen Iverson (1.3), you're in line to win some cash.
A few others were up for consideration here, including Al Harrington and Cuttino Mobley, but Williams still looks like he could rip up the roots of a fully grown wild fig tree with his bare hands. So, he wins.
9. Chauncey Billups, Killer 3s
Games Played: 2
Per-Game Stats: 18.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.0 blocks, 34.8 percent shooting
Other Notable Stat: 42.9 percent shooting on four-pointers (3-of-7)
Chauncey Billups has only appeared in two games. I know. It's fine. But he was one of the primary draws entering this summertime shindig, and to exclude both him and Allen Iverson would feel disingenuous to the meaning of life.
Besides, two games is a lot when you're 40 and fresh off turning down the Cleveland Cavaliers' general manager job in your spare time. Billups logged a total of 73 minutes out of the gate, which basically means he's in good enough shape to play for Tom Thibodeau.
It's totally cool if his 34.8 percent shooting clip doesn't do it for you. Going 8-of-23 from the floor isn't particularly impressive. But drilling a trio of four-pointers—tied for second-most in the league—is the stuff on which Hall of Fame cases are built.
You might even say Mr. Billups has hit some big shots.
(I'll show myself out.)
8. DeShawn Stevenson, Power
Games Played: 5
Per-Game Stats: 14.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.4 blocks, 40.3 percent shooting
Other Notable Stat: League leader in threes made (19) and attempted (44)
That's 2010-11 NBA champion DeShawn Stevenson to you.
The Dirk Nowitzki pun master wasn't known for his outside shooting during his 13-year career. Really, he wasn't known for shooting, period. He averaged fewer than seven shots per game in the Association.
So it makes perfect sense that Stevenson is now pacing the BIG3 in three-point makes and attempts—while posting a top-10 assist-to-turnover ratio (3.7), mind you.
If we're being nitpicky, Stevenson's two-point stroke could use some work. A little more interest in off-ball defense beyond the three-point arc would be nice, too. But anyone who hits this game-winning three and then celebrates like they're about to be presented with the Larry O'Brien Trophy deserves bonus points.
Stevenson's performance is for all of us who try with every last fiber of our being in pick-up games—only people are actually coming to watch him play, and he's actually good at basketball.
7. Stephen Jackson, Killer 3s
Games Played: 5
Per-Game Stats: 20.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.0 blocks, 46.7 percent shooting
Other Notable Stat: League leader in total minutes (153)
Stephen Jackson's top-seven case is buoyed by a number of saving graces.
First and foremost: No one has logged more minutes. This is half-court basketball. People take possessions off. There is some lazing around. But it's still hard. And Stephenson is 39, with roughly three-and-a-half years separating him from his last NBA appearance. Give him props for being the lone player to appear in more than two games and clear 30 minutes per outing.
While you're done doing that, revel in his intensity. He cares. That's not to say other participants don't, but he's been the same ol' Cap'n Jack we came to appreciate during his NBA days—right down to his self-confidence.
"I honestly feel if you got the top 10 guys here, we could beat an actual NBA team," he said July 9, via Fox Sports 1. "So not just the summer league, we'll beat an actual NBA team."
Debatable? Absolutely not. It wouldn't happen. But Jackson is one of just two players who's pumping in 20 points per game, and he has already exchanged pleasantries with Rashad McCants.
We're getting the full Stack Jack experience, and that has to count for something (read: everything).
6. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, 3 Headed Monsters
Games Played: 5
Per-Game Stats: 14.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.2 blocks, 47.5 percent shooting
Other Notable Stat: Second-best plus-minus in the league (plus-48)
For the record, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf is kind of channeling his inner Curry. No, he's not torching twine from two miles out. He's shooting 7-of-22 on threes (31.8 percent) and has yet to jack a four-pointer.
But he's a plus-minus superhero for the second-place 3 Headed Monsters, just like Curry is for the Golden State Warriors. Abdul-Rauf ranks second in the league with a plus-48, and Curry placed first during the 2016-17 campaign—with a plus-1,015.
That's practically the same thing.
More seriously, you have to respect Abdul-Rauf for continuing to have a structured warmup routine. There's also a strong chance he has the quickest release and sweetest hesitation footwork of every almost-50-year-old would-be point guard in existence.
5. Ivan Johnson, Ghost Ballers
Games Played: 5
Per-Game Stats: 15.0 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.4 blocks, 54.5 percent shooting
Other Notable Stat: Second-best NET rating (114.1)
Did Ivan Johnson's placement receive an artificial boon because he's the second-leading scorer for the team with the best name?
And even if he did, it's a teensy-tiny spike. He's earned this spot. Mike Bibby would be the Ghost Ballers' best rebounder without him, and there hasn't been a more efficient scorer.
Johnson deserves some sort of hypothetical award for posting the highest usage rate among everyday players (sorry, Joe Smith) on a team that deploys Ricky Davis. He has scored almost as many points (75) as Davis (77) despite attempting 12 fewer shots, and no other member of the Ghost Ballers has racked up as many free-throw attempts (14, though he's putting down an uninspiring 64.3 percent of his looks at the charity stripe).
Anyway, consider this the official plea for Johnson to play a little bit more. He and Bibby are the BIG3's more physical version of Karl Malone and John Stockton.
4. Mike Bibby, Ghost Ballers
Games Played: 5
Per-Game Stats: 11.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.2 blocks, 48.6 percent shooting
Other Notable Stat: League leader in made four-pointers (five) and assists per game
Bibby has swished five four-point bombs through five appearances. That's more than two-time MVP Stephen Curry has splashed in his entire career.
Thank the basketball deities for Bibby. For real, though. The BIG3 needs him after Jason Williams suffered a non-contact knee injury in his debut.
There is no craftier playmaker left standing. Bibby is it. He's the BIG3 version of a Daryl Morey special to boot: He eschews three-pointers (1-of-5) for the four-point heave (5-of-12). Watch game highlights, and you'll see he puts in work on defense, rotating between double-teams and closeouts.
To be honest, if the New York Knicks are still looking for a veteran to mentor Frank Ntilikina—and $8.9 million man Ron Baker—they might as well give Bibby a call to try to lure him away from the high school coaching scene.
He wouldn't last on the court unless they used him as a standstill shooter from the imaginary four-point line, but Bibby knows his hoops.
3. Rashad McCants, Trilogy
Games Played: 5
Per-Game Stats: 18.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 0.2 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.4 blocks, 62.1 percent shooting
Other Notable Stat: League leader in NET rating (plus-120.3)
Rashad McCants is collecting 18.8 points in...under 18 minutes per game. His average is inflated by a 27-point outburst in 15 minutes during a 51-34 victory over Tri-State on Sunday, but it's still patently absurd.
Fair warning: Things are about to get entirely too nuanced, and there will be no apologies.
By using the BIG3's available possession data, we see McCants is tallying 1.25 points per individual play. That's about what Serge Ibaka scored in transition last season. And more than Karl-Anthony Towns posted out of the pick-and-roll (1.23). And more than Kawhi Leonard averaged per spot-up touch (1.24).
Look, it doesn't matter who you are, what you're playing or how you're playing it. If every one of your possessions is approximately equal to one Kawhi Leonard catch-and-shoot jumper, you're doing whatever it is you're doing at an extremely high level.
Good job by the Trilogy to scoop up McCants with the No. 1 overall pick. He's getting buckets.
2. James White, Trilogy
James White: 34
Games Played: 5
Per-Game Stats: 11.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.0 blocks, 60.0 percent shooting
Other Notable Stat: League-high true shooting percentage among players with at least two appearances (70.2)
James White has been scary efficient.
Among everyone who has played at least two contests, his true shooting percentage of 70.2 leads the pack. He isn't hoisting a ton of threes (5-of-9) and has yet to rip off a four-pointer, but he is still, all these years later, playing above the rim.
Had there been a "BIG3 player most likely to convert a game-winning alley-oop" survey before opening night, there's almost no question White would have won. And sure enough, he has one victory-clinching oop to his name.
Given his blend of efficient scoring and passing, it's almost not even fair he and McCants are on the same team. The Trilogy are a perfect 5-0 and haven't yet received a real scare. They're pummeling opponents by an average of 12 points per game, and two of their wins have come by 15 or more.
That's what happens, apparently, when you put two of this year's three best players in the same uniform. And after being selected 16th overall, White might just go down as the steal of the draft—though Johnson (No. 22) and Abdul-Rauf (No. 17) will have something to say about that.
1. Rashard Lewis, 3 Headed Monsters
Games Played: 5
Per-Game Stats: 22.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.0 steal, 1.0 block, 56.0 percent shooting
Other Notable Stat: League leader in points and tied for league lead in blocks per game
How good has Rashard Lewis been during BIG3 play?
"Finally healthy, 6'11", shooting and playing very well in [the BIG3], it wouldn't be a bad idea for an NBA team to give Rashard Lewis [a] camp invite," The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears wrote on Twitter.
Let's just call Lewis the Kevin Durant of the BIG3 and be done with it.
The soon-to-be 38-year-old has a strong grip on the scoring crown and is collecting buckets at an unfathomably high clip. His 61.8 true shooting percentage ranks seventh-best, and he's the only player in the whole dang league who's averaging at least two assists, one steal and one block per game.
Declaring him Association-ready might be a little ambitious. Then again, the 2014 NBA Finals weren't that long ago. Lewis started all five games in a losing effort for the LeBron James-led Miami Heat.
And as luck would have it, James' Cavaliers just lost one lanky victory cigar in James Jones.