On Friday night, the most promising young players in the National Basketball Association will show their talents in the Rising Stars Challenge, a game pitting the best new players in the league from the United States with their international counterparts. Players such as Trae Young and Luka Doncic will appear both in Friday’s game as well as Sunday’s main All-Star Game. Let’s take a look at the rosters for the teams in the Rising Stars Challenge as well as a prediction for those who want to include this in their NBA sports betting.
2020 NBA Rising Stars Challenge Odds & Preview
- Miles Bridges (Charlotte Hornets)
- Wendell Carter Jr (Chicago Bulls)
- Devonte’ Graham (Charlotte)
- Tyler Herro (Miami Heat) (injured)
- Collin Sexton (Cleveland) (Herro’s replacement)
- Jaren Jackson Jr (Memphis Grizzlies)
- Ja Morant (Memphis)
- Kendrick Nunn (Miami)
- Eric Paschall (Golden State Warriors)
- P.J. Washington (Charlotte)
- Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans)
- Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks)
- Nickeil Alexander-Walker (New Orleans)
- Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns)
- R.J. Barrett (N.Y. Knicks)
- Brandon Clarke (Memphis)
- Rui Hachimura (Washington Wizards)
- Svi Mykahiliuk (Detroit Pistons)
- Josh Okogie (Minnesota Timberwolves)
- Moritz Wagner (Washington)
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC Thunder)
There are always some players who feel like they should have been included in rosters for games like this. Jaxson Hayes ranks second among this year’s rookie class in terms of win shares. Terence Davis made the Toronto Raptors as an undrafted free agent and is now a regular in the rotation of the defending champions. Matisse Thybulle ranks fourth among rookies in win shares.
Mitchell Robinson is behind only Luka Doncic among players in their first two seasons in win shares, but he plays for the Knicks, who have just a .315 winning percentage, and he only hits the floor for about 20 minutes per game. Jalen Brunson (Dallas), Grant Williams (Boston), Donte DiVincenzo (Milwaukee) and Landry Shamet (L.A. Clippers) all play important roles in teams that are winning right now, but they’re not on the list.
Duncan Robinson will be in the three-point contest, and Kevin Huerter is a sharpshooter as well, but both of those players are staying home. But the players already on the list have plenty of bullet points on their resumes as well.
The Rising Stars Challenge has used the Team USA vs Team World format since 2015, and the international players have won three of those five games. However, the stateside group has a real shot to win this year. Doncic might be the best player on the floor on Friday night, but then the next four top players all come from Team USA: Ja Morant, Zion Williamson, Trae Young and Jaren Jackson Jr. There are at least three players who can fill the basket from outside but who can also create if they have the ball, in Young, along with Kendrick Nunn and Devonte’ Graham. Morant has crazy handles, so it will be fun to watch the alley-oops he and Young send to Jackson, Williamson and Miles Bridges.
Team World has a lot of talent as well, of course, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander should join Doncic in leading a stout offense. However, there are not as many pure shot creators on this roster, and while Deandre Ayton has a terrific post game, you are not as likely to see as many offensive possessions involving the halfcourt game. In this sort of exhibition, there is a lot of run and gun, which means the post players do not get as involved. The skills that Brandon Clarke brings are also more suited to halfcourt sets in real games. So if this game turns into a track meet, Team USA should have the edge. That’s a comment more about the difference between basketball in the United States, which is more individual-driven, and in the rest of the world, where set plays and schemes drive more of the game.
I predict that Team USA will win the 2020 Rising Star Challenge, 148-140.