What: 2020 Rising Stars Challenge: Team USA vs Team World
Where: United Center, Chicago
When: Friday, 14 February 2020, 9:00 PM EST
How (TV): TNT
Luka Doncic is ridiculous ? pic.twitter.com/dVA0g1qScr
— Fanatics View (@fanaticsview) February 13, 2020
Projected Starting Five: (G) Luka Doncic – (G) Shai Gilgeous Alexander – (G) RJ Barrett – (F) Rui Hachimura – (C) DeAndre Ayton
Keeping Up With The Canadians ??
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander | vs. @cavs
— NBA Canada (@NBACanada) February 6, 2020
Team World continues the trend of looking like an incredibly disciplined and balanced side.
While they have few players that will jump out of the gym, they are loaded with talent and intelligence at every position.
Every year we tend to count out Team World, but they’ve proven time and again that they have the skills to compete with the high-fliers of the USA.
Don’t expect Luka Doncic to be too involved in this match. Only playing a few minutes makes sense for the sophomore and first-time All-Star.
He is coming off of an ankle injury and will certainly be saving his health and energy for Sunday evening.
Look to DeAndre Ayton to make an impact in this game. Overlooked as a member of the Suns, we’ve seen big men put up big numbers in these games due to their willingness to get on the glass.
For fun NBA Prop Bets check out our latest Prop Drop video.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 10, 2020
* denotes player will not compete due to injury.
Projected Starting Five: (G) Trae Young – (G) Devonte’ Graham – (F) Miles Bridges – (F) Zion Williamson – (C) Jaren Jackson Jr.
JA MORANT IS UNREAL?pic.twitter.com/rUfzKi8WSe
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) February 6, 2020
Team USA continues its trend of having shocking athleticism and scoring ability from deep.
They will certainly get out and play a running game, as their combination of speedy guards and athletic bigs is something that Team World could have trouble contending with.
Like Luka Doncic, don’t expect first-time All-Star Trae Young to play a large role in this match. While his play is tailor-made for an entertaining Rising Stars Challenge, Young is certain to want to reserve his energy for his debut in the All-Star Game on Sunday.
Beyond him, all eyes are on Ja Morant. The explosive rookie has forced the Memphis Grizzlies into playoff position and was nearly named an All-Star himself this season. His ability to get up and down the court, dish the ball, and finish strong make him a leading contender for the Rising Stars MVP award.
(G) Terence Davis – Toronto Raptors – Ole Miss – Rookie
1:46 to play on ESPN pic.twitter.com/KMy2edJRDt
— NBA (@NBA) February 8, 2020
Undrafted rookie Terence Davis has made quite a name for himself in his first year. Averaging 8.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.8 assists on 60.4% effective field-goal shooting, Davis is one of the most impactful rookies in the league. there are questions abound regarding why he was overlooked, but as Davis has said, it’s nothing new to him.
(C) Mitchell Robinson – New York Knicks – Western Kentucky – Sophomore
Mitchell Robinson on clean up duty ? pic.twitter.com/I1uwJbF7a1
— Hoops Supply (@hoopssupply) February 13, 2020
Here’s a player that assistant coaches may have straight out forgotten about. A member of the lowly New York Knicks, it’s not difficult to imagine why. Despite that, Robinson has improved his scoring and rebounds, while contributing two blocks per game. Next to Luka Doncic, Robinson is the top in win shares.
(G) Matisse Thybulle – Philadelphia 76ers – Washington – Rookie
Thybulle. Just everywhere. pic.twitter.com/djSn7cg5KX
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) January 20, 2020
Thybulle gets a bit of the OG Anunoby treatment this year. Certainly deserving based on his contributions to his team, Thybulle doesn’t make the cut because of a rather pedestrian per game box score. He has been massive in the Sixers’ rotation and victories though, more than qualifying his place in the squad.
Honorable Mention: Jaxson Hayes (NOP), Landry Shamet (LAC), Donte DiVincenzo (MIL), Duncan Robinson (MIA), Kevin Huerter (ATL)
It’s only been five years that the Rising Stars Challenge has enjoyed the World versus USA matchup, and it’s been exciting, to say the least. Of those five matchups, the World Team has won three. This will be an excellent chance for Team USA to bring the series level though.
After Doncic and Young, Team USA owns three of the most talented individual scorers in Kendrick Nunn, Devonte’ Graham, and Ja Morant.
Their ability to push the pace and score in isolation is exactly what powers an offense in this exhibition. They will more than likely employ a running game in order to outpace Team World.
Don’t discount Team World though. Between Ayton, Hachimura, Wagner, and Clarke, they have the ability on the glass to close any gaps against the USA Team. Don’t discount the teamwork of the four Canadians on the roster as well. Barrett, Clarke, and the Alexander brothers have been playing together for years on their national team, chemistry is nothing to scoff at.
For the World Team to be competitive, they’ll have to keep the score close until the end where they can take advantage of their superior half-court play. Team USA will be trying to run them out of the gym with every opportunity.
(G) Trae Young (ATL) & (G) Luka Doncic (DAL)
TONIGHT: Trae Young vs Luka Doncic!
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) October 24, 2018
These two will never be rid of each other. However, the main reason they find themselves attached at the top of this list is that how much they play in this match remains a mystery. With so much attention going to them as All-Star starters, a modest night on Friday wouldn’t be a surprise. If they do get an extended run though, both are game-changers.
(G) Ja Morant (MEM)
Ja Morant just had the first triple-double of his career‼️
First of many for Ja?pic.twitter.com/UVJ9qvPpXa
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) February 10, 2020
Ja Morant has led his Memphis Grizzlies into the playoffs race as a rookie. As he enters the Rising Stars Challenge, why shouldn’t he be able to command his side to victory as well? Morant is a fantastic distributor and a high-flier that teammates will want to feed in transition. He’s not a strong shooter though, which will be his only drawback when trying to fill up the box score.
(C) DeAndre Ayton (PHX)
Deandre Ayton went to work tonight ?
26 PTS (11/15FG)
21 REBS pic.twitter.com/bxyBZGUhBw
— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) January 17, 2020
It is easy to overlook the big man in these types of games, but there is a historical precedent to their success. In such an up and down game, big men have found success doing the dirty work and making easy baskets. Andre Drummond, David Lee, and Kenneth Faried have all won MVP honors off of a blue-collar approach to the game. Ayton has its ability and more.
(G) Devonte’ Graham (CHA)
Devonte’ Graham is putting the league on notice ?
40 PTS (career-high)
5 ASTS pic.twitter.com/2WMB0jzrck
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 12, 2019
Graham came out of nowhere to play a massive role for the Charlotte Hornets this season. He’s had the experience of being the primary ball-handler all year and will have more than enough opportunity in this game. Shooting 37.2% from deep on almost ten three-point attempts per game, Graham has the capacity to get hot and never look back.
Team USA defeats Team World, 147-143.
Rising Stars Challenge MVP: (G) Ja Morant (MEM).
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Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.
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