With the new addition of 3-on-3 basketball to the 2020 Olympic Games, the IOC has reached out to urban areas like never before. But who will represent the United States in this event?
With NBA players like LeBron James saying they won’t play in it, maybe it’s time to give D-League Players a shot at Olympic glory.
D-League Players have recently been added to USA basketball’s plans, as they have announced that World Cup and Olympic qualifier games will be played by a roster filled mainly with players from the minor league.
3-on-3 is a game of athleticism, flashiness, ball handling, and shooting. Many players in the D-League possess these skills but lack important qualities like defense, court vision, and passing to make it into the NBA. Digging deep into D-league rosters there are a handful that would make perfect 3-on-3 players.
G: Pierre Jackson, Texas Legends
The three-year D-League veteran lacks the NBA size to break into the league but is not a huge factor in 3-on-3. Jackson, a second round pick by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2013 played nine games with the Dallas Mavericks this year and he finished in the number one spot on the end of the year D-League prospect rankings.
Jackson uses his NBA-level explosiveness to get to the basket. His athleticism paired with his shooting (37% from three-point range) makes him one of the most dynamic scorers in the league averaging 22.5 points per game.
F: Alfonzo McKinnie, Windy City Bulls
The 6’8″ athletic freak out of UW-Green Bay made a splash in his D-League rookie year. After returning to the states from Spain McKinnie put up 14.9 points and 9.2 boards per game. He was named an All-Star and participated in the D-league dunk contest.
McKinnie’s speed and vertical make him perfect for a 3-on-3 game as he uses his athleticism to cut to the basket and finish above the rim. While only shooting 30.3% from three, McKinnie possess three-point talent and is very good inside the arc on pull-up attempts.
C: Dakari Johnson, Oklahoma City Blue
Johnson, 21, is a prime candidate to make the Oklahoma City Thunder’s roster next year. After being a second-round pick in 2015 Johnson played this past season with the Blue. This past season he was named an All-Star and made All-League First Team.
While being 7’0″ and weighing 255 pounds Johnson is very athletic for a big man. His athleticism makes him an ideal big man for 3-on-3 play as he is able to keep up with the high-paced action.
Johnson can serve as the primary rim protector, as he averaged 1.3 blocks per game, with an additional 8 rebounds per game. Johnson’s offensive game comes mainly from overwhelming defenders with his strength and size in the post, knocking down mid-rangers.
G: Travis Trice II, Westchester Knicks
In his second season in the D-League Trice exploded into one of the best shooters in the league. He shot a scorching 51.6% from three while averaging 21.1 points and 6.4 assists per game. Trice is more than a spot-up shooter, as he has very good ball-handling skills that creates space for a deadly pull-up game from outside and inside the arc.
Aside from scoring Trice is also a good distributor and could potentially be a good set-up guy for the other two players on the court. He also has a nose for steals, averaging 1.3 per game for his D-League career and could play good man-to-man defense in a game where most of the offense comes from 1-on-1 opportunities.
G: Vander Blue, South Bay Lakers
Blue is one of only three players in D-League history to score 4,000 career points has established himself as one of the most dynamic scorer in the league’s 17 year history. After playing overseas and with three D-League teams Blue found a home with the L.A. D-Fenders (now South Bay Lakers) scoring 23+ points per game in three consecutive years
Not much of a distributor, Blue is an electric player who isn’t afraid to take shots. He owns a career 35.5 three point percentage with 41.6% from three in the 2014-15 season. Blue is an aggressive perimeter defender and has averaged 1.8 steals per game over the past three year.