The NBA bloggers at SB Nation continue a series of themed posts each week in this moribund part of the offseason with a 3x3 tournament. The first was Cult Classic players and last week it was best trades ever. Sites around the network will be posting their respective teams' 3-on-3 squads today and there will be a 32-team tournament bracket (including a team of top 2013 draft prospects and non-NBA foreign players) set up on SBNation.com.
After the exuberance about the Golden State Warriors' offseason, this exercise of putting together a 3-on-3 team was sort of sobering reminder that this team is still far from elite and will have to rely rather heavily on building chemistry in order to make the playoffs.
The chances of stopping teams with dominant wings are slim and we're still not entirely sure just how good center Andrew Bogut will be after a long injury-related absence.
But with no clear advantage over the field, that led to an interesting discussion about who to select for our 3-on-3 squad: do we choose a big team that will try to just out-size people around the basket or do we go with a smaller 3-point shooting team that can out-shoot opponents and can put up points more quickly given the constraints of the game?
The following is our final team and some thoughts on the top contenders.
First, the rules of this game are different than NBA basketball, as mentioned yesterday, and J.A. Sherman of SB Nation's Welcome To Loud City came up with a list of attributes that could be valuable for this event.
Everyone must be able to hit open shots from 20 feet and in. Ability to run quality screen and rolls. Ability to finish at the rim. Good one-on-one skills. Ability to play trapping defense. Ability to protect the rim.
We can debate which attributes are more or less valuable, but I think we can all easily see where the Warriors' strengths and weaknesses lie there.
Anyway, the following are the top six contenders for the Warriors' team based on our voting the last couple of days.
6. Harrison Barnes, 6'8", F
For a team that lacks length and athleticism on the wing, it's tempting to put Barnes on this team in hopes that he might have a better shot at defending the league's best wings. The problem is that Barnes is still a rookie and even if summer league doesn't mean much, there's little reason to believe that he can step in and guard the best wings right away any better than any of the team's other options.
Then there's the fact that he really struggled after he took more than 2-3 dribbles against summer league competition.
5. Brandon Rush, 6'6", G/F
Rush seems to provide the best shot at defending the wing and was the team's best player in isolation situations last season. In addition, Rush was tied for the team-high in pick-and-roll scenarios, although he ran it much less frequently than Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson.
Relative to the other Warriors' options on the wing, Rush would offer a bit of everything in a 3-on-3 setting.
4. David Lee, 6'9", F
The ideal scenario for the Warriors would actually be strict adherence to the FIBA 3x3 rules: 1s and 2s instead of 2s and 3s and 4 player teams (3-on-3 with one sub). And in that situation, Lee would almost certainly be another addition to this team both in order to give Bogut a rest in the post and be paired with Bogut for a big lineup.
In a halfcourt 3-on-3 set up, size definitely matters and Lee's ability to execute in the pick-and-roll and hit mid-range jumpers would certainly be an asset in a 3-on-3 situation. Although Lee isn't outstanding in post-up situations, against smaller teams he would have a height advantage, which could be exploited.
The Warriors' 3x3 Team
3. Klay Thompson, 6'7", G
Thompson was the overwhelming choice as the third player on this team. His 3-point shooting and ability to move in space to find shots would be an asset for this team. In addition, after his summer with USA Basketball - and the first training camp of his career - we might expect that he comes into this season even more comfortable than he was in the rushed lockout-shortened season that his rookie year was.
2. Stephen Curry, 6'3", G
I don't think anyone will question that Curry is the best ball handler and passer on the team and if this team is going to win, they'll need players to move the ball and move without the ball to do it. Curry can do a bit of both.
Curry was also the best player in the pick and roll, which was most effective with Lee last season and certainly makes an argument to go with Curry-Lee-Bogut or maybe even Curry-Rush-Lee to some if we take team chemistry into account.
1. Andrew Bogut, 7'0", C
This might have been the easiest choice, simply because the presence of a 7-footer is even more valuable in a halfcourt 3-on-3 situation (without transition) than it would be in a 5-on-5.
In the 2009-10 season, Bogut ranked fifth in the pick-and-roll and, if he can get back to that, working with Curry could be the Warriors' bread and butter in a 3-on-3 with Thompson being used to spread the floor. Bogut also gives the Warriors some cover defensively by protecting the rim and getting rebounds, which would help prevent second chance buckets by the opposition and possibly get a few while Curry and Thompson look to get shots up.
But 3-pointers will have to be the aim for this team, regardless of whether Bogut returns to 2009-10 form in the pick-and-roll - they're not going fare well defensively and will need make up for that by trying to turn it into a game of trading 2s and 3s.
Click here for a look at the rest of the league's 3-on-3 teams and vote in the poll below.