USA Basketball will choose its teams for the Olympic debut of 3×3 via selection committee, but it’s unlikely NBA players will be eligible.
USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley said that FIBA rules dictate all four players on each of the men’s and women’s teams, should the U.S. qualify (more on that here), must accumulate ranking points by playing in 3×3 events for the year leading up to June 22, 2020.
Two of the four players must be ranked in the top 10 among Americans in the FIBA rankings, based on results from the last 12 months, on June 22, 2020. The other two must be in the top 100. That means nobody can make the Olympic team without playing in a FIBA-endorsed 3×3 event.
Ideally, USA Basketball wants to take an entire 3×3 team that has been playing together. But it could pick and choose players from different teams. The Olympic teams would be named at the latest possible date before the overall July 6, 2020 entries deadline for the Games.
NBA players would likely have to use their 2019 offseason to play 3×3 and accumulate ranking points.
“It’s unlikely, but by the letter of the law, it is possible,” Tooley said. “You could get somebody who plays in a tournament in some open window, perhaps, that earns enough points to be eligible. That’s to be determined.
“It wasn’t [FIBA’s] vision to say this is another opportunity for NBA players. It’s for a different generation, a different style of player.”
USA Basketball has heard from one unnamed WNBA player who is interested in going for both the traditional, 12-player team event and the 3×3 event, though that double may not be doable given the Olympic schedule. The WNBA season calendar, from May to September, opens up more opportunities for players to venture into 3×3 events.
USA Basketball is trying to get the word out to potential 3×3 Olympic hopefuls, as well as evaluate them, by announcing a series of more than 20 domestic 3×3 tournaments sponsored by Red Bull on Thursday. The first is June 22 in Detroit. It starts getting serious with national championships in Las Vegas this week.
So far, the highest-profile player taking part in elite-level 3×3 is former Purdue star Robbie Hummel, who played 98 games for the Minnesota Timberwolves from 2013-15.
Three-on-three games last 10 minutes, or until one team reaches 21 points. Games are played on a half-court with a 12-second shot clock, and offense immediately turns to defense after a team scores.
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