FIBA, basketball's international governing body, is reportedly considering adding three-on-three basketball to the slate of Olympic events, perhaps as soon as the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. The discussion prompted the folks at SB Nation NBA to wonder what a three-on-three tournament with NBA teams might look like, and bloggers representing each team have submitted their squads for consideration.
Picking a three-on-three roster for the Orlando Magic's entry in this hypothetical tournament is an exercise in frustration. Though the team will have 17 players under contract once it officially signs combo guard E'Twaun Moore, the Magic won't have any locks for a three-on-three team, which speaks to Orlando's lack of blockbuster talent.
Initially, I viewed point guard Jameer Nelson and shooting guard Arron Afflalo as two obvious choices, but selecting a big to complement that group proved difficult. And though Nelson is Orlando's best ballhandler, Hedo Türkoğlu could theoretically handle the playmaking chores for a Magic three-on-three squad, making Nelson superfluous; neither player thrives when off-the-ball.
And while it's true that Glen Davis is Orlando's most accomplished big man, the five-year veteran's game is ill-suited to international style of play. His jumper isn't terribly reliable, while the trapezoidal lane makes post-up play almost completely irrelevant.
Further complicating the process of selecting an Orlando trio is the team's lack of an athletic gadget forward--think Andrei Kirilenko, Lamar Odom, or Josh Smith--who can force mismatches. At 6-foot-10, Türkoğlu has the size to fill that role, but not the requisite skill-set. His lack of footspeed and rebounding prowess hurt him here. Al Harrington is a big man who can shoot the three, but he, like Türkoğlu, struggles defensively and on the glass. Earl Clark may have been an interesting choice were he still in Magic pinstripes, but Orlando dealt him to Los Angeles in the Dwight Howard trade.
Ultimately, I settled on a three-on-three team featuring Nelson, Afflalo, and second-year center Gustavo Ayón, whose experience playing in Spain gives him an edge over Davis. Further, Ayón doesn't need the ball in order to be effective offensively, in contrast to Davis, who would take touches away from the more efficient Nelson and Afflalo.
Offensively, Nelson would handle the playmaking, though he'll also have to share the scoring load with Afflalo. Ayón's there to set picks, rebound, and clean up as necessary.
Make no mistake: a threesome of Nelson, Afflalo, and Ayón would get stomped in a tournament setting, but that group nonetheless represents Orlando's best shot at respectability here.
Whom would you have chosen?