(SportsNetwork.com) - Before the eye-opening dunks, 3-point shots, precise
passing through obstacles and 63rd All-Star Game, the future of the NBA will
take center stage Friday night in the 2014 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge.
The BBVA Rising Stars Challenge is a battle between two teams comprised of
rookies and sophomores mixed together.
Former NBA players Chris Webber and Grant Hill will match wits with some of
the leagues brightest young stars and took over for past general managers
Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal. Team Webber will be run by Oklahoma City
assistant Rex Kalamian, while Nate McMillan of Indiana is set to guide Team
Fans will vote online for the starters of each team. The starting lineups will
be determined by the players collecting the top votes for their respective
positions, with two backcourt and three frontcourt spots for each team. The
announcement of the starting lineup will be made the night of the game.
Team Webber selected Anthony Davis of New Orleans with the first overall pick,
followed by Boston's Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger, Mason Plumlee of
Brooklyn, Tim Hardaway, Jr. of New York, Oklahoma City's Steven Adams,
Orlando's Victor Oladipo, Michael Carter-Williams of Philadelphia and Trey
Burke of Utah.
With its first pick of the Rising Stars Challenge, Team Hill grabbed Damian
Lillard of Portland. Saddling up with Lillard on Team Hill will be Andre
Drummond of Detroit, Pero Antic of Atlanta, Cleveland's Dion Waiters, Golden
State's Harrison Barnes, Terence Jones of Houston, Giannis Antetokounmpo of
Milwaukee, Toronto's Jonas Valanciunas and Washington's Bradley Beal.
This event, which used to feature just rookies against sophomores, was
incepted back in 1994, when players such as Webber, Anfernee Hardaway, Nick
Van Exel and Sam Cassell were chosen. Jason Kidd, Kevin Garnett, Steve Nash,
Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Paul Pierce, Dirk
Nowitzki, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony also participated in
Team Chuck won the last two events, including a 163-135 victory in 2012-13.
Team Webber features seven rookies and two second-year players. Carter-
Williams' NBA career is off to a promising start and he is the frontrunner to
win Rookie of the Year honors. He is a key piece to Philadelphia's rebuilding
process and is averaging 17.1 points, 6.5 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 2.12
steals per game. The last players to post those kind of numbers in a season
were All-Stars Paul and Wade in 2008-09.
That's some nice company.
Carter-Williams' 719 points scored through the first 42 games of his career
are the highest by a Philly rookie since Iverson (962) in 1996-97.
Oladipo is right behind Carter-Williams as far as talented rookies go, and has
carved his own niche in Orlando. Oladipo is posting an average of 14.9 points,
4.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists, and the Magic have a nice nucleus of young
talent to build with.
Sullinger and Davis are the veteran players of Team Webber. Davis is arguably
the best player among both teams and his defensive play is one to gaze over.
The main piece to the Pelicans, Davis leads the team in points (20.5),
rebounds (10.1), blocks (3.1) and steals (1.6). Be sure to watch the one
better known as the "Unibrow" swatting some shots and wowing the crowd.
Team Hill has only two rookies on the team: Antic and Antetokounmpo. But
Hill's squad will counter Davis with Drummond. Drummond is first in the
Eastern Conference with 39 double-doubles and is averaging 13.1 points and
13.0 rebounds this season. Drummond, who was reportedly part of the reason why
Maurice Cheeks was fired last week, is one of the brightest young big men.
The Drummond-Davis matchup will get the New Orleans crowd excited.
With tremendous guard play in Lillard, Beal and Waiters, Team Hill appears to
be the favorite. However, the band of rookies for Webber will argue that.
Lillard will be the busiest this weekend and has helped the Blazers transform
into one of the best teams in the NBA. He boasts averages of 20.7 points and
5.7 assists for the Blazers, who will grab one of the top seeds with Lillard
running the floor in the Rose City.
Beal, Waiters and Barnes have promising futures before them as well.
Kenneth Faried of the Denver Nuggets won the 2013 Rising Stars Challenge MVP
with 40 points and 10 rebounds to lead Team Chuck.
The Sports Network