There’s a lot of talk about how 3×3 basketball is different from regular basketball, and it absolutely is. It’s faster-paced, more physical, harder to play defense — lots of stuff. There’s also a funny sense that the best 5-on-5 basketball players in the world might have trouble at 3×3, and need an adjustment period before being able to compete at an elite level in the slightly different game.
It’s true that Team USA did not qualify for men’s 3×3, having tried to do so with a team including Robbie Hummel, Dominique Jones, Joey King, and Kareem Maddox. But thanks to the American women, we now know how long the adjustment period is for world-class 5-on-5 players to transition to 3×3: not long at all.
France is the top 3×3 team in the world, and beat Team USA at the Olympic qualifying tournament. But in the opening pool play game in Tokyo, the team of WNBA stars Stefanie Dolson, Allisha Gray, Kelsey Plum, and Jacquelyn Young stomped the French, 17-10, then came back to the court later in the day and obliterated Mongolia, 21-9.
Dolson, in particular, is a matchup nightmare as the tournament’s tallest player at 6-foot-5, with a physical presence that goes beyond her height. France’s Ana Maria Filip is just an inch shorter, but looked tiny by comparison. You just had to feel sorry for Mongolia, trying to figure out how to deal with her without anyone on their roster cracking six feet.
With Dolson shooting 10-for-14 with 13 rebounds through the first two games, and Gray and Plum combining for 42% shooting from downtown (2-point range in 3×3)… well… the adjustment period is over, and so is the rest of the world’s party.
Well, at least the Montreal Canadiens front office was well prepared to defend its choice to draft Logan Mailloux.
Wait, what’s the opposite of that?