The NBA Rising Stars Challenge (long-ago known as the Rookie/Sophomore Game) is the All-Star Game before the All-Star Game. It’s a showcase of the league’s best up-and-coming talent. It’s also a pretty solid gimmick.
The All-Start Weekend is about selling the NBA to the masses. It’s a full-on blitzkrieg of cross-platform marketing, brand building, and synergy. I’m working on a post that should cover most of that stuff, hopefully I’ll get it done before the actual All-Star Game while it’s still relevant. Until then, know that the All-Star festivities have basically already begun.
Thursday night the participants in the various non-game related activities were announced. Also, Charles Barkley and Shaq held a draft, selecting their respective teams for the aforementioned BBVA NBA Rising Stars Challenge.
In a bit of a shocker, Portland’s Damian Lillard went number one overall to Team Shaq. Selecting next, Team Chuck grabbed Anthony Davis, setting the stage for what might have been the biggest draft-day drop of all time. Going number three overall, Kyrie Irving will join Damian Lillard in arguably the best young back-court of all time.
OK, that’s an exaggeration, but still, I knew that a possible Irving/Lillard guard pairing would be something everybody would want to see. This tweet should prove that:
Betting the picks for the Rookie/Soph game with be Kyrie 1st and Dame 2nd, but how great would they be on the same team?
— Rip City Project (@ripcityproject) January 30, 2013
For those not interested in clicking a link and reading a press release, here are the rosters in draft order by team:
- Damian Lillard (Portland)
- Kyrie Irving (Cleveland)
- Andre Drummond (Detroit)
- Klay Thompson (Golden State)
- Harrison Barnes (Golden State)
- Chandler Parsons (Houston)
- Dion Waiters (Cleveland)
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Charlotte)
- Tyler Zeller (Cleveland)
- Kemba Walker (Charlotte)
- Anthony Davis (New Orleans)
- Kenneth Faried (Denver)
- Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio)
- Bradley Beal (Washington)
- Ricky Rubio (Minnesota)
- Tristan Thompson (Cleveland)
- Nikola Vucevic (Orlando)
- Brandon Knight (Detroit)
- Isaiah Thomas (Sacramento)
- Alexey Shved (Minnesota)
Looking at these rosters, you can be forgiven if your first thought is “damn, Shaq’s team is going to win by 100.” You can also be forgiven if your second thought is, “good thing Chuck is working in broadcasting, because there’s no way he’s getting a real front office job.”