Some of the best young players on the planet will compete Friday night as part of the 2020 NBA Rising Stars Game, which pits Team USA against Team World and begins a busy weekend of All-Star festivities in Chicago. The 2020 NBA Rising Stars Challenge odds have Team USA as the favorites to win over Team World.
2020 NBA Rising Stars Challenge odds
|Date||Friday, Feb. 14|
|Time||9 p.m. ET|
|How to watch the 2020 NBA Rising Stars Challenge||TNT|
|2020 NBA Rising Stars Challenge odds – point spread||Team USA -6|
|2020 NBA Rising Stars Challenge odds – total points||308 over/under|
Perhaps the biggest attraction in the Rising Stars contest will be New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson, the reigning No. 1 overall pick, who finally made his debut in January after recovering from a preseason knee injury. Williamson scored 22 points on 8-for-11 shooting in his first game, which was broadcast on national television, and he has not looked back since then.
Now comes the brightest spotlight yet for the promising power forward.
“We say it all the time,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry told reporters. “I don’t think he’s even scratched the surface.”
The 19-year-old Williamson said he is feeling more comfortable on the court but is far from a finished product.
“I think it is kind of happening,” Williamson said to reporters. “People are trying to find their own way. I feel like my game is so unique I’ll be able to adjust to it on the fly. At the end of the day, I’m 19. I have a lot of room for growing. I will miss up. I’m not perfect. I’m just going to learn from (my mistakes).”
Williamson’s playing time could be limited considering the Pelicans are one of four teams who played Thursday, a night before the rising stars took the court.
If Williamson is the biggest star for Team USA, the Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic is the leader of Team World.
The 20-year-old Doncic was named NBA Rookie of the Year a season ago, during which he averaged 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game. He has blossomed into an even bigger superstar in his second season, with averages of 28.9 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.7 assists through 44 games.
Doncic already has a dozen triple-doubles this season after posting eight triple-doubles as a rookie. He recently missed seven games because of a sprained ankle, only to post 33 points and 12 rebounds in his return Wednesday as the Mavericks raced to a 130-111 win over the Sacramento Kings.
“Great game,” Doncic told reporters. “I’m glad to be out there just playing basketball. And I’m glad we got a win.”
A win will take priority once again as the focus shifts to Michael Jordan’s old stomping grounds.
Team World holds a 3-2 edge in the contest since the game took on its current format in 2015. Each team must include at least three rookies and at least three second-year players.
As Williamson bangs bodies in the post, Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks figures to be one of Team USA’s backcourt sharpshooters on Friday. Young is averaging a whopping 29.7 points and 9.2 assists per game in his second season despite being one of the few scoring threats on the Hawks.
A pair of Memphis Grizzlies standouts, rookie guard Ja Morant and second-year forward Jaren Jackson Jr., also figure to provide plenty of chemistry on the court for Team USA.
Another Grizzlies forward, rookie Brandon Clarke, will compete for Team World.
“It’s special, definitely special,” Morant recently said to reporters. “Wish my guy ‘BC’ (Clarke) could have been on the team with us. But he’s on the other end, so we got some smoke coming for him.”
Clarke will have a talented teammate in the Team World frontcourt: Washington Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura, who returned recently after missing a month and a half because of a groin injury.
“I had never been away from basketball like this,” Hachimura said to reporters when asked about his recovery. “But also I had never watched film or games like this. So, that’s why it helped. I watched a lot of games, like two or three games a day. I was imagining how I would play when I get back. That’s why it’s helping right now.”
Here is a look at the rosters for both teams:
2020 Team USA roster
|Miles Bridge||Charlotte Hornets|
|Wendell Carter Jr.||Chicago Bulls|
|Devonte’ Graham||Charlotte Hornets|
|Tyler Herro*||Miami Heat|
|Jaren Jackson Jr.||Memphis Grizzlies|
|Ja Morant||Memphis Grizzlies|
|Kendrick Nunn||Miami Heat|
|Eric Paschall||Golden State Warriors|
|Collin Sexton||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|P.J. Washington||Charlotte Hornets|
|Zion Williamson||New Orleans Pelicans|
|Trae Young||Atlanta Hawks|
2020 Team World roster
|Nickeil Alexander-Walker||New Orleans Pelicans|
|Deandre Ayton*||Phoenix Suns|
|RJ Barrett||New York Knicks|
|Brandon Clarke||Memphis Grizzlies|
|Luka Doncic||Dallas Mavericks|
|Shai Gilgeous-Alexander||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|Rui Hachimura||Washington Wizards|
|Nicolo Melli||New Orleans Pelicans|
|Svi Mykhailiuk||Detroit Pistons|
|Josh Oko||Minnesota Timberwolves|
|Moritz Wagner||Washington Wizards|
*-injured, will not play
Last season, Team USA pulled away for a 161-144 win thanks in part to a game-high 35 points from Kyle Kuzma. The Los Angeles Lakers’ forward earned Most Valuable Player honors for his effort.
The annual contest started in 1994, when Penny Hardaway of the Orlando Magic was named MVP. Other MVPs in the game’s history include Allen Iverson (1997), Carmelo Anthony (2005), Kevin Durant (2009) and Kyrie Irving (2012).
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