For the second straight year, NBA on TNT analysts Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal selected from a group of NBA rookies and sophomores (second-year players) to form their respective teams for the 2013 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, which takes place on Friday, February 15.
20 players were drafted in total, with the final four players left on the board assigned at random.
Below are the final rosters for Team Chuck and Team Shaq, with the players ranked by the order of their selection.
TEAM CHUCK: Anthony Davis (New Orleans Hornets), Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets), Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs), Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards), Ricky Rubio (Minnesota Timberwolves), Tristan Thompson (Cleveland Cavaliers), Nikola Vucevic (Orlando Magic), Brandon Knight (Detroit Pistons), Isaiah Thomas (Sacramento Kings) and Alexey Shved (Minnesota Timberwolves).
TEAM SHAQ: Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers), Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons), Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors), Harrison Barnes (Golden State Warriors), Chandler Parsons (Houston Rockets), Dion Waiters (Cleveland Cavaliers), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Charlotte Bobcats), Tyler Zeller (Cleveland Cavaliers) and Kemba Walker (Charlotte Bobcats).
The biggest surprise of the draft was Charles Barkley NOT selecting Kyrie Irving with his first overall pick. Irving was named the MVP of last year’s Rising Stars Challenge after going 8 for 8 from behind the arc and scoring a game-high 34 points to help lead Team Chuck to a 146-133 victory.
The mere fact that Irving is on Team Shaq should make his team the heavy favorites going into this game. Kyrie is the only player participating that was also selected to play in the actual All-Star game on Sunday evening. He will also be representing the Eastern Conference in the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout on All-Star Saturday night, so his schedule is going to be awfully busy that weekend in Houston.
Maybe Charles will get lucky and Irving will play fewer minutes because of it.
While I will pledge allegiance to Barkley and his team during this Rising Stars Challenge (mainly because this site is called “Sir Charles” in Charge), it’s hard for me to further justify my prediction of a “Team Chuck” victory, as Team Shaq CLEARLY has the a better, more well-suited roster to succeed in an exhibition quite like this.
Team Chuck doesn’t have a single player averaging over 14 points a game, while Team Shaq has six above that mark (Irving, Lillard, Waiters, Walker, Thompson and Parsons). If the scoring averages of every player on their respective teams were added together, Team Shaq would dominate 139-114.
If you wanted a group of guys to make a run over the course of an 82-game season, then perhaps Team Chuck and his gluttony of big men that can clog the lane and play back-to-the-basket (Vucevic, Thompson, Davis, Faried) would be the way to go.
However, this is just one game. All the fans really want to see is highlight-reel plays, spectacular dunks and fast-paced offense.
From top to bottom, Team Shaq can make that happen.
Well, not so much. Certainly not more so than Team Shaq.
Look, considering the meaningless nature of the game (it’s just for fun), I suppose either team could realistically pull out the “W” in this one.
My heart says Team Chuck, but everything else in my body is just screaming Team Shaq.
Sorry, Mr. Barkley.
Topics: Charles Barkley, Charlotte Bobcats, Cleveland Cavaliers, Damian Lillard, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Kyrie Irving, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Hornets, Orlando Magic, Portland TrailBlazers, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Shaquille O'Neal, Washington Wizards