NBA Rising Stars Challenge 2018: Rosters, Snubs, Predictions for USA vs. World

The NBA‘s All-Star Weekend is about more than just the league’s established stars, it’s about its rising stars, too.

The Rising Stars Challenge, presented by Mountain Dew Kickstart, is the perfect showcase for the up-and-comers looking to have their own coming out party.

The game will be played at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Friday, Feb. 16 at 9 p.m. ET, and will feature 10 rookies or second-year players from the United States up against 10 counterparts from other countries around the world, and it can be seen on TNT and heard on ESPN Radio.

Usually a bit more entertaining than the actual All-Star Game on Sunday, this year’s Rising Stars features a triumvirate of players from the Philadelphia 76ers (Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and Ben Simmons) and the Los Angeles Lakers (Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram).

 

Take a quick look at the rest of the rosters below, as well as snubs and predictions. 

         

U.S. Team

Player | Position | Team

Brandon Ingram | F | Lakers

Kyle Kuzma | F | Lakers

Lonzo Ball | G | Lakers

Kris Dunn | G | Bulls

Dennis Smith Jr. | G | Mavericks

Jayson Tatum | F | Celtics

Jaylen Brown | G-F | Celtics

Taurean Prince | F | Hawks

John Collins | F-C | Hawks

Donovan Mitchell | G | Jazz

Malcolm Brogdon* | G | Bucks

       

World Team

Player | Position | Team

Lauri Markkanen | F | Bulls

Ben Simmons | G-F | 76ers

Dario Saric | F | 76ers

Joel Embiid | C | 76ers

Dillon Brooks | F-G | Grizzlies

Bogdan Bogdanovic | G | Kings

Buddy Hield | G | Kings

Jamal Murray | G | Nuggets

Frank Ntilikina | G | Knicks

Domantas Sabonis | C-F | Pacers

* = injured and will not participate

Snubs

No matter how fair the selection process appears to be, there will always be snubs. There’s no way around it.

This year’s biggest snub would have to be De’Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings.

With the departure of George Hill in the trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the high-coiffed rook has been given the keys to the kingdom, and he’s quickly becoming one of the players to watch.

The No. 5 overall pick in the 2017 Draft is averaging 11.3 points, 4.3 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game.

The only other players that could be considered snubs are Dejounte Murray of the San Antonio Spurs and Josh Jackson of the Phoenix Suns.

Murray is slowly making his mark as the new starting point guard, averaging 7.1 points, 2.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds per contest.

Jackson is probably getting overlooked playing on a bad team. Despite early struggles, the rookie is averaging 11 points and 4.1 rebounds per outing.

Fox, Murray and Jackson didn’t make the cut this year, but odds are they’ll get serious consideration for next season’s game.

      

Prediction

This game will come down to speed.

The U.S. team, with its otherworldly athleticism in players like Mitchell, Smith Jr., Brown, Tatum and Kuzma, should be able to run the floor like gazelles.

Nobody will be keeping count, but there should be more than enough dunks and alley-oops coming from this squad.

With Embiid, Simmons and Sabonis, the World team has the height advantage and may look to play half court offense. Simmons, Saric and Embiid play well together, so look for their chemistry to thwart the U.S. team’s pace.

In the end, though, the trophy should remain on U.S. soil.

Score: USA 145, World 132

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February 14, 2018 at 08:25AM

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