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Where: Spectrum Center in Charlotte, NC
When: Friday, February 15th at 9:00 PM EST
How (TV/Radio): TNT | ESPN Radio
Reigning Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons (PHI), G Donovan Mitchell (UTA), and two-time NBA Rookie of the Month Luka Doncic (DAL) lead the pool of twenty players selected to compete in this years 2019 Rising Stars Challenge.
The 25th Rising Stars Challenge pits ten rookie and sophomore NBA players from the United States against ten rookie and sophomore players who represent countries from around the world.
Team World is composed of players as diverse in basketball skill as the countries represented.
|Dirk Nowitzki||Dallas Mavericks||Germany|
|(F) OG Anunoby||Toronto Raptors||United Kingdom|
|(C) DeAndre Ayton||Phoenix Suns||Bahamas|
|(G) Bogdan Bogdanovic||Sacramento Kings||Serbia|
|(G-F) Luka Doncic||Dallas Mavericks||Slovenia|
|(G) Shai Gilgeous-Alexander||Los Angeles Clippers||Canada|
|(F) Rodions Kurucs||Brooklyn Nets||Latvia|
|(F) Lauri Markkanen||Chicago Bulls||Finland|
|(G) Josh Okogie||Minnesota Timberwolves||Nigeria|
|(F) Cedi Osman||Cleveland Cavaliers||Turkey|
|(G-F) Ben Simmons||Philadelphia 76ers||Australia|
Big men DeAndre Ayton of the Bahamas and Lauri Markkannen of Finland represent the modern day NBA big man. Strong and mobile with the ability to shoot the ball and the athleticism to finish at the rim, these two big men can cause fits for the more traditional Team USA front court.
In what is usually a glorified pick-up match, Team World also touts some serious defensive options. Nigerian Josh Okogie and Canadian Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are two crafty guards with the length and constitution to guard players 1-3. The United Kingdom’s OG Anunoby also joins the mix as a fierce front-court defender, who has already proven himself defensively against the likes of James Harden, Victor Oladipo, and LeBron James.
Most important to an All-Star Weekend Event, Team World brought shooters and playmakers. Australia’s Ben Simmons and Slovenia’s Luka Doncic are two of the best point-forwards in the game today. Surrounded by the likes of Latvia’s Rodions Kurucs, Serbia’s Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Turkey’s Cedi Osman, the playmakers of Team World will be spoiled for choice.
Team USA is absolutely loaded with star power. When they take on Team World they will be taking their lightning speed and American flair to their international rivals.
|Kyrie Irving||Boston Celtics||Duke|
|(C) Jarrett Allen||Brooklyn Nets||Texas|
|(F) Marvin Bagley III||Sacramento Kings||Duke|
|(G) Lonzo BallIR||Los Angeles Lakers||UCLA|
|(F) John Collins||Atlanta Hawks||Wake Forest|
|(G) De’Aaron Fox||Sacramento Kings||Kentucky|
|(F) Jaren Jackson Jr||Memphis Grizzlies||Michigan State|
|(F) Kevin KnoxREP||New York Knicks||Kentucky|
|(F) Kyle Kuzma||Los Angeles Lakers||Utah|
|(G) Donovan Mitchell||Utah Jazz||Louisville|
|(F) Jayson Tatum||Boston Celtics||Duke|
|(G) Trae Young||Atlanta Hawks||Oklahoma|
IR: Due to an ankle injury, G Lonzo Ball will not participate in the 2019 Rising Stars Challenge.
REP: F Kevin Knox has been selected to replace G Lonzo Ball in the 2019 Rising Stars Challenge.
Get ready for some high-flying antics when Team USA hits the court. Former and current NBA Slam Dunk competition participants will have their sights on the sky when Donovan Mitchell and John Collins hit the floor for Team USA.
Don’t think that Team USA can’t play technically though. While De’Aaron Fox, Trae Young, and Jayson Tatum dazzle fans every night with their antics at the rim and shooting from range, their playmaking abilities are sure to be on display from the tip.
Rounding out the roster are a pair of post defenders and scorers in Jarrett Allen, Marvin Bagley, and Jaren Jackson. What they lack in pure technical skill they make up for with inside presence and shot-blocking ability. It’s a good thing Team World brought its shooters, because Team USA will have a difficult paint to attack.
Team World is looking to acquire its fourth win in the last five matches in the Rising Stars Challenge.
Expect a high scoring match. Team USA has allowed over 150 points in each of their last three contests.
The Rising Stars Challenge changed its format from the Rookie-Sophomore game to the internationally branded Team World vs Team USA event in 2015.
Team World has no roster changes of note.
G Lonzo Ball – 20 Jan 2019 – (Ankle) has been ruled out of the Rising Stars Challenge. New York Knicks F Kevin Knox has been drawn to replace him.
Now in its 25th year, the Rising Stars Challenge has become a staple of NBA All-Star Weekend. Celebrating the best of the NBA’s upcoming talent in an All-Star Game-esque format.
Only recently did the NBA switch to the Team World vs Team USA format, and only within the last ten years has the NBA become the global league that it is today.
Of the last 24 Rising Stars Challenge MVP’s, 20 of them have been American. However, speaking to the rapid globalization of the NBA, three of the last four Rising Stars Challenge MVP’s have represented Team World (Bogdan Bogdanovic, Jamal Murray, Andrew Wiggins).
Ben Simmons (Team World)
Guard/Forward | 6-10, 230lb (208cm, 104kg) | LSU/Australia | Exp. 1 Years
16.7 PPG | 7.9 APG | 9.1 RPG | 1.3 SPG | 0.7 BPG | 3.6 TOV | .569 FG% | .000 3P%
Ben Simmons is one of the odds on favourites to win the Rising Stars Challenge MVP. He is unstoppable going to the rim and has the vision and skill to make some splendid passes to his teammates to rack up the assists. With Simmons’ inclusion in Sunday’s All-Star Game though, there’s a chance that his role will be more limited than expected.
Odds to win MVP: +475
Luka Doncic (Team World)
Guard/Forward | 6-7, 218lb (201cm, 98kg) | Real Madrid/Slovenia | Rookie
20.8 PPG | 5.5 APG | 7.1 RPG | 1.1 SPG | 0.3 BPG | 3.2 TOV | .433 FG% | .348 3P%
Doncic may find that this will be his true coming out to the NBA world. Already wildly popular, as evidenced by his All-Star vote totals, Doncic’s game is tailor made to this event. He will also likely get a ton of run, as he was snubbed from this Sunday’s All-Star Game.
Odds to win MVP: +475
Donovan Mitchell (Team USA)
Guard | 6-3, 215lb (190cm, 97kg) | Louisville | Exp. 1 Year
22.4 PPG | 4.0 APG | 3.9 RPG | 1.5 SPG | 0.3 BPG | 2.7 TOV | .418 FG% | .322 3P%
Donovan Mitchell has the name and the clout to make some noise in this competition. A former Slam Dunk Contest participant, Mitchell’s high-flying ability will certainly be a target for all of his teammates to encourage. He’s also a skilled playmaker and shooter that can get hot at a moments notice.
Odds to win MVP: +825
Jayson Tatum (Team USA)
Forward | 6-8, 208lb (203cm, 94kg) | Duke | Exp. 1 Year
16.1 PPG | 1.9 APG | 6.3 RPG | 1.0 SPG | 0.8 BPG | 1.5 TOV | .453 FG% | .379 3P%
Some of Tatum’s accomplishments this season have gone unnoticed due to the underachievement of his Boston Celtics. Regardless Tatum showed the world that he’s a prolific scorer in last year’s NBA Playoffs. In a more relaxed setting, don’t be surprised to see Tatum become more liberal with his shot selection.
Odds to win MVP: +900
The odds makers have Team USA favoured at a -125 versus Team World who opens at a +105.
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.
Email: [email protected]More info on Christian Jope
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