Olympics

Tokyo Olympics: Creating our all-time 3x3 basketball teams

For the first time since 1936, when Men's Basketball became a medal sport at the Olympics, the Summer Olympics at Tokyo will conduct two separate formats of the sport.

Not only will there be the normal 5-on-5, but there will also be 3x3.

The format, which had been gaining popularity across the world, was included as part of the Olympic Program after approval by the IOC's Executive Board on June 9, 2017.

With the Tokyo Olympics being the first time the 3x3 format is conducted, multiple members of NBA.com Global Staff shared their opinion on what would be the all-time 3x3 team for countries across the world.

United States

LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant

There has been so much talent to wear the Red, White and Blue that I almost had too difficult of a time choosing just three.

Ultimately, it was a no-brainer.

It's a matter of opinion, of course, but in James and Jordan, you've got who most consider as the best two players to ever pick up a basketball. Both two-time gold medalists, LeBron and MJ each propelled the United States during the prime of their respective careers, with them each pulling off the heralded trifecta of league MVP, Finals MVP and Olympic Gold - Jordan in 1992, James in 2012.

Any critiques of LeBron or Jordan would be nitpicking, but in order to deal with what might be a perceived lack of shooting, give me Durant.

Durant, who is working on his third Olympic Gold, is one of the most decorated players in the history of USA Basketball. Entering the Tokyo Olympics, Durant hasn't lost a game that counts and is in line to be the most prolific scorer to don the stars and stripes.

With as scary as each of these guys are defensively and the versatility they each bring, this team literally has no holes. Teams will struggle with our size, too. Good luck

- Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21)

Australia

Patty Mills, Andrew Gaze, Ben Simmons

Any basketball team from Australia has to start with Patty Mills.

The Boomers veteran turns into prime Michael Jordan whenever he pulls on the green and gold, so he'll be leading my 3x3 team. His speed and scoring ability will be a nightmare to contain.

Given the spacing afforded in the halfcourt with just three players, we'll need some versatility on defence and someone who can both attack the paint and protect the rim. That someone is Ben Simmons. At 6-foot-10, he can guard everyone on the floor and live at the rim and create for his teammates.

With his lack of shooting, we're going to need another certified sniper on the squad.

Andrew Gaze or "Australian Steph Curry" is the man for the job. The five-time Olympian is the ultimate release valve and from beyond the arc in 3x3, those two-point makes are even more valuable. The Mills-Simmons pick-and-roll into a Gaze jumper is our go-to play.

- Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane)

India

Sozhasingarayer Robinson, Amjyot Singh, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi

Considering the physical nature and conditioning of the format, my all-time 3x3 squad for India would include forwards in Sozhasingarayer Robinson and Amjyot Singh while guard and former Basketball Without Borders Global Camp MVP Vishesh Bhriguvanshi would round out the squad.

Singh and Bhriguvanshi are among the most versatile and all-round players of the current Indian squad, capable of shooting from distance, finishing at the rim on drives and playmaking. With the latter capable of playing taller and stronger than his point guard position, the duo can switch defensively as well, a key aspect of 3x3.

On the other hand, Robinson, a 6-foot-8 wing who was among the first Indians to play professional basketball abroad, would be a great complement to the Singh-Bhriguvanshi combo. As per reputed Indian Basketball journalist Karan Madhok, "He was a swashbuckling forward capable of hot shooting streaks, attacking from the perimeter, and finishing on the inside."

- Yash Matange (@yashmatange2694)

England

Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, OG Anunoby

This trio ticks two important boxes.

The first? Scoring.

Gordon's NBA career fizzled out rather quickly, but he walked into the league as a bucket-getter. As a rookie in 2004-05, he averaged 15.1 points per game off the bench for the Chicago Bulls, earning him Sixth Man of the Year. (In the process, he became the first player in NBA history to win the award as a rookie). In 2006-07, he averaged a career-best 21.4 points per game on .455/.413/.864 shooting splits. He then averaged 20.7 points per game in 2008-09, his final season with the Bulls.

When Gordon got going, there wasn't much that could be done to slow him down.

The second? Versatility.

During his prime, Deng was one of the league's better two-way wings, earning him two All-Star selections and one All-Defensive Second Team selection. Pairing him with OG Anunoby, who was born in London to Nigerian parents, is a no-brainer. While Anunoby's career is only getting started, he made encouraging strides offensively in 2020-21 and is already one of the NBA's best perimeter defenders, capable of guarding all five positions.

With Gordon's scoring and both Deng and Anunoby's versatility, I'd like England's chances.

- Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles)

Argentina

Manu Ginóbili, Andrés Nocioni, Luis Scola

You might not need positions in a 3x3 competition, but it certainly doesn't hurt to have a guard, forward and a big.

You don't need a lot of words for Ginobili's case. His creativity and craftiness would be huge for this kind of play. Scola would have free rein of the paint as the team's lone big man, and the development of his long range shot adds something else to his back-to-the-basket game. And Nocioni's energy and competitive spirit is unique for any kind of competition - 3x3, 5x5 or 10x10, you name it.

With everyone in his prime, I don't see many other teams beating this lineup.

- Leandro Fernandez (@FernandezLea)

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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