The BBVA Rising Stars Challenge is tonight which means we’re going to get to see the best of the next generation of NBA stars go at it in what will no doubt be an exciting and entertaining game. From Damian Lillard to Kyrie Irving, Ricky Rubio and Anthony Davis the best of young stars in the NBA are going to-to-toe as part of Team Shaq vs. Team Chuck.
But while tonight’s game will no doubt be entertaining, what we really want to know is if the NBA’s future is bright, and judging from our panel experts that future is indeed bright.
If you were the coach of one of the Rising Stars teams, who would you make your No. 1 pick?
Caleb Nordgren, Pippen Ain’t Easy: Definitely Kyrie Irving. There’s nobody else in the game that’s even remotely on his level. He’s basically a top-five NBA point guard in his second season.
Stephen Ajamie, It’s Always Miller Time: I would make Kyrie Irving my number one pick as I’ve grown very fond of his game and his ability on the floor. It’s important to have that floor general, and I believe he would make the ideal number one choice.
Chris Walder, Sir Charles In Charge: Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving. He’s the only player participating that will also be competing in the actual NBA All-Star game on Sunday night. He was also named the MVP of last years Rising Stars Challenge (8 for 8 from three-point range, 34 points), so it would seem like a no-brainer really.
Who has the better overall roster, Team Shaq or Team Chuck?
Mike Acker, Rip City Project: Team Shaq, almost without question. He’s got both of the best players, Lillard and Irving, who also happen to also be the best scorers. Losing Drummond to injury is a bummer, but Andrew Nicholson has been a pretty unexpected surprise. Throw in Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, and Chandler Parsons, and not only does Shaq have the best scorers, he has ALL the scorers.
Michael Waterloo, Nugg Love: The two teams are so different on paper. Shaq’s team is quicker and has more depth than Chuck’s. Chuck’s team however has an extreme size advantage. Barkley selected this past year’s No. 1 pick Anthony Davis first for his squad and took the Manimal second. There’ s no doubt that Barkley’s team will have the rebounding advantage in the game, but Shaq’s team will be able to set the tempo with Irving and Damian Lillard running the backcourt. With Team Shaq’s depth and ability to run the floor, I have to give them the advantage.
Cole Patty, Life on Dumars: Shaq’s team is definitely much more fun, even if he’s lacking Andre Drummond to catch some oops. Even without Drummond, I feel Shaq has the best two players in the game in Lillard and Kyrie. I think the rosters are closer than some think though. Just because Barkley’s team isn’t filled with most watchable guys doesn’t mean it’s a bad. Kyrie gives Shaq the edge.
Brett Roberts, Hardwood Houdini: Charles Barkley for some reason thought it best to stack his team with big men. Given that even Nikola Vucevic knows that doing such won’t pay off in a game that is perimeter oriented, one would think that Sir Charles would have considered that.
Are there any players on either of the Rising Stars team that will be in the All-Star Game next season?
Caleb Nordgren, Pippen Ain’t Easy: Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard seem like the obvious choices. And Kyrie is actually in this year’s game, so there’s that. But I think Ricky Rubio could be a dark horse pick. Once he gets fully healthy after tearing his ACL last season, he’s an exciting playmaker and the Minnesota Timberwolves should be pretty good
Ryan Stone, Swarm & Sting: Kyrie Irving since he has already made it this year and possibly Damian Lillard with Tony Parker getting older it could open the door for Lillard.
Stephen Ajamie, It’s Always Miller Time: I think Kyrie Irving gets in as a reserve, but don’t think anyone gets voted in as a starter.
Vytis Lasaitis, King James Gospel: In my books, Kenneth Faried and Damian Lillard are the two primary candidates, but the competition in the West is fierce. As good as Lillard is, who would he replace? Paul, Kobe, Harden and Westbrook will most likely be locks in the All-Star game next season as well, and then you have the likes of Tony Parker and Stephen Curry who are ahead in the line. The East is somewhat weaker and with Kevin Garnett most likely out of it next season, Anthony Davis could potentially have a shot.
Who is going to win tonight’s game: Team Shaq or Team Chuck?
Chris Walder, Sir Charles In Charge: Team Shaq by 17. If I wanted a team to take in to an 82-game season, I would go with Team Chuck and his plethora of big men (T. Thompson, Davis, Faried, Vucevic). However, the uptempo style of the Rising Stars Challenge strongly favors Team Shaq and his vast amount of playmakers, dunkers and shooters.
Michael Waterloo, Nugg Love: I hope and think it’s going to be a good game. Team Shaq has the speed and depth while Team Chuck has the size advantage. If Team Shaq is able to set the tempo and run the floor with Lillard and Irving, then I think they win 142-129.
Brett Roberts, Hardwood Houdini: Team Shaq could win this game by double-digits. As I said, it’s a guard dominated team in an event which favors perimeter players. In addition to that, team Chuck has no premier scorers at all. The highest scoring average of any of his players is just 13.2 points per game (Bradley Beal), Team Chuck just doesn’t have the scoring punch to keep up with with a team that features two point guards who average a combined 42 points per game.
Mike Acker, Rip City Project: I think Team Shaq wins in a blowout. I get what Chuck was going for. Kawhi Leonard is a phenomenal player, same with Kenneth Faried and Anthony Davis, but looking at his roster, it’s hard to figure out where the scoring is going to come from. If Ricky Rubio plays well, I can see Nikoal Vucevic and Tristan Thompson getting a lot of easy buckets. But other than that, Bradley Beal, Alexey Shved, and Isaiah Thomas are going to have to outscore Irving, Lillard, Thompson, Barnes, Parsons, Dion Waiters MKG, and Kemba Walker. I don’t see that happening.
Cole Patty, Life on Dumars: I’ve talked about one man a lot, and I feel he’s going to win the game and MVP. Give me Kyrie and Shaq for the win.
Caleb Nordgren, Pippen Ain’t Easy: #TeamChuck will probably win, if only because they’re less likely to start chasing highlights, as far as I can tell. They’ll win, but my guess is that #TeamShaq will produce at least 7 of the Top 10 plays of the game.