BIG3 Basketball, Week 7: 3's Company vs. Killer 3s
3's Company vs. Killer 3s -120
Rupp Arena, Lexington, Kentucky
August 6, 2017, 3PM Eastern
After six weeks of competition, Ice Cube's BIG3 professional 3-on-3 basketball league is not only still kicking, but has consistently drawn solid live attendance numbers and strong TV viewership ratings (see here or here for details) -- we certainly tune into FS1 every Monday to follow the proceedings of the day before. The league's popularity has spawned the development of infrastructure, such as fantasy stats tracking and deepening betting markets, which, for sports bettors, only adds to the games' allure.
Week 7's four games schedule be played out at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky on the afternoon of Sunday, August 6th. The game that we are most excited about is the second contest, between Allen Iverson's 3's Company and Charles Oakley's Killer 3s. For sure, this matchup is unlikely to be the most exciting game on the docket, as the competing teams are both third-tier (as indicated by their 2-4 records). However, this game is the closest thing to a pick 'em available, and as such strike us as the most bettable contest of today's lineup.
We are comfortable backing the favorites here for several reasons. First, we cite the big picture penchant for favorites to prevail of late. To our knowledge, OddsPortal.com has the most comprehensive database of historical BIG3 odds (starting with week 2). Per their work, favorites are 7-1 over the last two weeks, after a 6-6 showing in weeks 2-4. In our thinking, this turnaround might reflect a calibration of the betting market more than anything else (it likely took bookmakers a few weeks to properly gauge the potential of the involved cast of characters). But whatever the reason, our expectation is that closing betting lines will estimate actual results without bias, as has been demonstrated in other professional sports. As such, we view the bookmakers assignment of an advantage to the Killer 3's, and the positive line movement (5Dimes had Oakley's squad priced as 1 point favorites until this morning) as supportive of our pick.
In the face of our perspective though, we note that 3's Company has delivered 501.5 fantasy points , versus 423 for the Killer 3s. However, the KIller 3s played half their games without team Captain and floor general Chauncey Billups. If, for instance, we doubled Mr. Big Shots fantasy points from 89 to 178, to account for the fact that Billups missed as many games as he played, then the Killer 3s are about even with Iverson's crew by this measure.
Also, we are aware of the Killer 3s' Stephen Jackson's emotionality, which has resulted in at least one technical foul and several heated exchanges with Coach Oakley, such as this one last week. However, we think Billups' deep experience and perennial cool under pressure exerts a calming influence over both player and coach, and see Jackson as controllable with Chauncey in the lineup. To this point, despite the back-and-forth between Jackson and Oakley in week 6 that included threats of physical aggression, the Killer 3s went on to beat the Ball Hogs by 10, more than double the margin forecast implied by the betting line.
On the other hand, 3's Company is not without its own dysfunction. For instance, 3's Company Player/Coach, and biggest league star, Allen Iverson unexpectedly did not show up in Dallas last week, and was instead spotted in a Chicago-area casino in the hours before week 6 play commenced. Ice Cube has since suspended Iverson from today's action.
At the end of the day, we note that the Killer 3s win when they are supposed to (i.e. from the position of favorite, as in weeks 3 and 6). This is more than we can say for 3's Company, who dropped games in weeks 2 and 4, despite 72% and 62% line-implied win probabilities.
Sunday, we expect Reggie Evans, the league leader in offensive rebounds, total rebounds and field goal percentage (Evans is also tied for 2nd in blocks), to continue to be a monster on the low block; we think Jackson, who sits atop the list for minutes played, is tied for 1st in points from free throw line and is 2nd in points and field goals, will continue to manufacture offense; and we look for Chauncey to ensure that that the trio plays as a team.
Jack-of-all-trades, Andre Owens, has been the brightest light for 3's Company, and perhaps for the BIG3 League. Owens ranks #1 in fantasy points, is tied for #2 in rebounds and steals and is 3rd in three-pointers made. Further, Dermarr Johnson is no slouch either, ranking seventh by fantasy points scored. However, we estimate that Killer 3's have the talent and experience and even the poise (as a collective, that is) to do the expected today.