Year 2 of the BIG3 is officially underway. And the 2018 campaign already has a pretty significant difference from 2017's iteration.
Last year, Trilogy, led by Rashad McCants and James White, went undefeated on the way to the championship. They kicked off this season with a loss to Nate Robinson's Tri-State, a result that led to a dustup between McCants and Robinson:
With the season tipping off with those kinds of fireworks, there's no telling where the league goes from here. A budding rivalry certainly wouldn't hurt from a marketing standpoint. And in taking down the reigning champs, Tri-State looks like the early team to beat.
Week 1 Power Rankings
1. Tri-State (1-0)
Roster: Jermaine O'Neal, Amar'e Stoudemire, Nate Robinson, David Hawkins, Bonzi Wells, Robert Hite, Julius Erving (coach)
Combined NBA Win Shares: 215.5
The tension between Robinson and McCants may have started even before the game tipped off, when the latter showed up in a Joker mask and Thanos glove, per former NBA player and current Big East Network analyst Jim Jackson:
After Robinson hit a game-winning jumper (games go to 50, and Robinson's three took Tri-State to 51), he ran to the other end of the court and snatched the mask.
"Nate [Robinson] was pretty heated," BIG3 founder Ice Cube said on FS1's First Things First. "He didn't really like the fact that Rashad [McCants] came on with the mask. And he thought that was disrespectful. He didn't hide it at all. He went right at him from the start of the game. And it's good. That's what you want. You want real competition."
Ice Cube wasn't lying. Robinson put up a solid 10 points. But the in-game hero might've been David Hawkins, who went for a game-high 19 points, six rebounds and six assists.
Undrafted in 2004, the 35-year-old Hawkins never played a minute in the NBA. He had a long and successful career overseas, though. Over nine years in the top leagues in Italy and Turkey, Hawkins averaged 14.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists while shooting 47.3 percent from the field.
His most recent action over there was back in 2012-13, so maybe we should've expected some rust. But there was little indication of that, as he was the most productive player on the floor in a game against the defending champs.
Tri-State had one other player in double figures in Week 1, and it's a name you might recognize: Jermaine O'Neal.
O'Neal made six straight NBA All-Star games in the early 2000s. And at 39 years old, this format may be perfect for him. He doesn't have to run up and down the floor, and doubling the post in three-on-three is just asking to give up a wide-open shot.
And as if that wasn't enough, this team also boasts Amar'e Stoudemire, who played in the NBA as recently as 2016.
This team is loaded. And by the looks of Week 1, it's ready to compete for a title.
2. 3's Company (1-0)
Roster: DerMarr Johnson, Baron Davis, Drew Gooden, Andre Emmett, Jason Maxiell, Derrick Byars, Michael Cooper (coach)
Combined NBA Win Shares: 133.9
Robinson isn't the only BIG3 newcomer making some noise in the early part of the season. 3's Company's Baron Davis was dominant in a 51-30 victory over the Killer 3's. Before the game, he played coy with Michael Rapaport about how much he has left in the tank:
Once the action tipped off, Davis left little doubt that he has what it takes to make noise in this league. He finished with a game-high 17 points, 10 rebounds and one assist. And with range like this, he's going to make 3's Company tough to defend on a nightly basis:
Davis last played in the NBA during the 2011-12 season, but he's yet to turn 40, and he made two All-Star games before injuries seemingly cut his career short. It's good to see someone who was ahead of his time playing ball in an era that better values his skills. (He averaged 8.7 three-point attempts in the 2003-04 season.)
Drew Gooden is another big name on 3's Company's roster. The 14-year NBA veteran played as recently as the 2015-16 season at the game's highest level. And he looks like he could be one of BIG3's top big men this season. Pick-and-rolls with him and Davis should be tough to stop, especially when flanked by Andre Emmett or DerMarr Johnson.
3's Company also boasts Jason Maxiell, who last played in the NBA during the 2014-15 season. He logged over 11,000 minutes in his NBA career.
3. Power (1-0)
Roster: Corey Maggette, Cuttino Mobley, Glen Davis, Ryan Gomes, Quentin Richardson, Chris Andersen, Nancy Lieberman (coach)
Combined NBA Win Shares: 224.9
The third blowout of Week 1 came courtesy of Power, who beat the Ball Hogs, 51-31. The star in that one was 38-year-old Corey Maggette, who averaged 16.0 points over 14 NBA seasons. He had a five-year stretch with the Los Angeles Clippers in which he averaged 20.1 points and 5.8 rebounds.
And against the Ball Hogs, he looked very much like that version of himself. He dropped 17 points and grabbed nine boards, prompting the following from his coach, Nancy Lieberman:
The comeback Lieberman referenced was the result of an Achilles injury that sidelined Maggette for all but one game of the 2017 season. Maggette discussed the injury with ClutchPoints' Tomer Azarly.
"I’m trying to come back with a vengeance," Maggette said. "Trying to come back and be healthy, and of course, it’s just a way to enjoy the game. A lot of guys just played so long and never get a chance to play at a different level and different capacity as in 3-on-3."
It's only been one game, but Maggette appears on his way to achieving those objectives.
He also looks to be part of one of this season's deepest rosters too. Cuttino Mobley dropped 12 in Week 1. Glen Davis added 11. And Maggette's old Clippers teammate, Quentin Richardson, went for eight boards and seven points. Power also features big man Chris "Birdman" Andersen.
4. 3 Headed Monsters (1-0)
Roster: Rashard Lewis, Reggie Evans, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Kwame Brown, Salim Stoudamire, Qyntel Woods, Gary Payton (coach)
Combined NBA Win Shares: 167.6
The only close game of Week 1 came courtesy of the 3 Headed Monsters and the Ghost Ballers. The 3 Headed Monsters won 50-48, thanks in large part to NBA garbage man Reggie Evans.
Evans averaged a whopping 13.3 rebounds per 36 minutes during his NBA career. He's second in NBA history in career rebounding percentage, behind only Dennis Rodman, per Basketball Reference. His brand of endless hustle should translate well to this format where there are even fewer guys to battle under the rim. It certainly did in Week 1, when he piled up 17 points and 13 rebounds.
The rest of this roster is pretty stacked too. Rashard Lewis was last season's BIG3 MVP, per the league's website. The two-time NBA All-Star averaged 21.3 points and shot 56.1 percent from the field in the league's inaugural campaign. And 49-year-old Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf hit double figures in Week 1 with 11 points.
The man with a little gray in his beard even knocked down the game-winner:
5. Ghost Ballers (0-1)
Roster: Mike Bibby, Ricky Davis, Carlos Boozer, Marcus Banks, Lee Nailon, Mario West, George Gervin (coach)
Combined NBA Win Shares: 197.5
The team that was narrowly edged out in Week 1 by the 3 Headed Monsters, the Ghost Ballers, figure to be a tough out all season.
Ricky Davis, who averaged 13.5 points over 12 NBA seasons, led the way with 21 points and five rebounds. He was known for getting shots up in the league, so we could be in for plenty of big scoring nights from him this season.
He has some teammates that can ably shoulder the load, though. Carlos Boozer made two All-Star teams in the NBA and played professionally as recently as the 2016-17 season, when he averaged 18.1 points and 10.6 rebounds for the Chinese Basketball Association's Guangdong Southern Tigers.
Then, of course, there's Mike Bibby, who caused a bit of a stir on social media recently:
That picture alone might be worth one win.
6. Trilogy (0-1)
Roster: Kenyon Martin, Al Harrington, Rashad McCants, James White, Dion Glover, Dahntay Jones, Rick Mahorn (coach)
Combined NBA Win Shares: 110.6
Trilogy already has more losses than it had in the entire 2017 campaign.
There's no reason to think this squad can't get back to the top of the BIG3, though. McCants averaged 18.3 points during the undefeated season, and he picked up right where he left off in 2018. After he took off the Joker mask, McCants dropped 16 on Tri-State.
Dunk legend James White joined McCants in double figures with 11.
Trilogy also features former NBA defensive stalwarts Kenyon Martin and Dahntay Jones. With those two locking up and McCants providing the offense, this is one of BIG3's most dangerous teams.
7. Killer 3's (0-1)
Roster: Chauncey Billups, Stephen Jackson, Metta World Peace, Alan Anderson, Ryan Hollins, Mike James, Charles Oakley (coach)
Combined NBA Win Shares: 258.1
The Killer 3's got blasted in Week 1, but it's not hard to see a path to contention for this squad.
Metta World Peace and Stephen Jackson each had seasons in the NBA in which they averaged over 20 points. And Chauncey Billups, who didn't appear in the first game because he was covering the NBA draft, averaged over 17 points five times in his NBA career. There's plenty of defense and firepower here; they just appear to have had an off night.
In addition to those three, the Killer 3's have Ryan Hollins, Alan Anderson and Mike James. There's nearly 30,000 NBA minutes just between those three.
And when you combine the stars with the role players, this team piled up more Win Shares in the NBA than any other. Nearly half of those came from Billups alone, so his availability will be key going forward.
8. Ball Hogs (0-1)
Roster: Brian Scalabrine, Josh Childress, DeShawn Stevenson, Andre Owens, Corsley Edwards, Jermaine Taylor, Rick Barry (coach)
Combined NBA Win Shares: 45.9
For at least one week, the Ball Hogs bring up the rear of the BIG3 power rankings. And it's not hard to see why. Not only are they last in combined NBA Win Shares with 45.9, they're not even close. No other team has fewer than 100.
The lack of NBA talent and experience appeared to play a big role in the first game. They managed just 31 points against Power, and 14 of those came from one player.
DeShawn Stevenson, who averaged double figures in the NBA in four different seasons, looked like the lone source of offense for the Ball Hogs. His 14 points made up nearly half the team's total.
Andre Owens, Josh Childress, Brian Scalabrine and Corsley Edwards dropped eight, four, three and two points, respectively.
If the Ball Hogs are going to be competitive this season, they'll surely need more from Childress, who played as recently as the 2017-18 season with the Adelaide 36ers in Australia. Childress averaged 12.5 points for Adelaide this past season and had a career .591 true shooting percentage in the NBA.
Unless otherwise noted, stats courtesy of BIG3, RealGM or Sports Reference.
Andy Bailey covers the NBA for SLC Dunk and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter (@AndrewDBailey) and listen to his Hardwood Knocks podcast, co-hosted by B/R's Dan Favale.