[Note by Steve Perrin, 08/27/12 5:45 PM PDT ] Note that I've closed this poll and opened a new one with more options.
You've no doubt noticed that the basketball blogs of SB Nation have been posting along themes for the last couple of weeks. First it was Cult Classic players, then it was great trades. This week's theme is 3 on 3 teams, and the fun won't end with the posts.
During the Olympics this year, it was reported that FIBA and the IOC are considering including 3 on 3 basketball as an Olympic sport in 2016 in Rio. That got us thinking -- what would a 3 on 3 team of NBA players look like?
But rather than pick a USA 3 on 3 team, we thought it would be fun to pick one per NBA team -- and we're going to ignore questions of nationality and country of birth, and just let every franchise pick their best 3 on 3 team from the current roster. Then, when those are all picked, we'll hold a single elimination tournament (tossing in a couple of extra teams of college players and internationals to get up to 32 teams) and run an imaginary, single elimination tournament to crown the NBA 3 on 3 champs!
But that's all for later. For now, I have to submit the entry for the Clippers.
As it happens, two of the spots are pretty easy to fill. So who is going to join Blake Griffin and Chris Paul as the third on the Clippers 3 on 3 entry?
The good news is that the Clippers will have a pretty decent entry, no matter who you put with Griffin and Paul. Paul, working in the space of a 3 on 3 game, will be almost unstoppable. Meanwhile, Griffin is athletic and versatile enough to impact the game in lots of ways. He's big enough to defend fives, but quick enough to defend threes, giving the team some flexibility. And there won't be a lot of double teaming with only three defenders out there, so he should be able to dominate certain matchups. Furthermore, defending a Paul/Griffin pick and roll, with only three guys, will be next to impossible.
But who best complements the Clippers two stars?
One presumes that outside shooting will be at a premium, and with Griffin in the post and Paul breaking down his defender, whoever the third Clipper is will get plenty of open looks. Unfortunately, while the rest of the Clipper roster has some good shooters, there's no clear best shooter to pick.
The choice of the third Clipper probably boils down to one of four players, each with strengths and weaknesses: Chauncey Billups, Jamal Crawford, Lamar Odom or Caron Butler.
Billups would be the best spot up shooter of the bunch, and would obviously bring savvy and experience. But with Paul already on the team, but the Clippers really afford to add a 6'3" guy? Billups could very easily wind up having to defend LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony. He'd be better than you might think, but it's a tough assignment.
Crawford could be ideal on offense -- in a 3 on 3 game, every possession can be an iso if you want, and Crawford is among the best in the league at getting his own shot. But he's not a great catch and shoot player, and he'd be almost as undersized as Billups on defense (Crawford is certainly taller, but Billups is no doubt stronger).
Odom has versatility that you would look for in a 3 on 3 game. He could be a playmaker on the perimeter on offense, but also big enough to rebound with almost anyone the Clippers would see. If he can knock down midrange jumpers, he could be a great third amigo with Griffin and Paul. The team wouldn't get a lot of three pointers, but should get plenty of high percentage twos with the versatility of this group. They'd also have the flexibility to matchup on defense with just about any combination the other teams could throw at them. It would be nice to know which Odom we're dealing with of course.
Butler would be a relatively safe choice. A solid spot up shooter who can also create his own shot when necessary. He's a pretty decent wing defender with good size -- he's not going to shut down LeBron, but then again no one is, an at least he'd have a fighting chance. He'd also be able to stretch the floor out to the three point arc more effectively than Odom.
So vote in the poll for the third player on the Clippers 3 on 3 team. Leave your reasoning in the comments and we'll put together the team on Wednesday.