Four Cleveland Cavalier players will be competing in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, as TNT analysts Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal have already drafted their rookies and the sophomores for the two teams. Here are the rosters for Team Shaq and Team Chuck:
PG – Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers)
PG – Kyrie Irving (Cavaliers)
PF – Andrew Nicholson (Magic) – replacing the injured Andre Drummond (Pistons)
SG – Klay Thompson (Warriors)
SF – Harrison Barnes (Warriors)
SF – Chandler Parsons (Rockets)
SG – Dion Waiters (Cavaliers)
SF – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Bobcats)
C – Tyler Zeller (Cavaliers)
PG – Kemba Walker (Bobcats)
PF – Anthony Davis (Hornets)
PF – Kenneth Faried (Nuggets)
SF – Kawhi Leonard (Spurs)
SG – Bradley Beal (Wizards)
PG – Ricky Rubio (Timberwolves)
PF – Tristan Thompson (Cavaliers)
C – Nikola Vucevic (Magic)
PG – Brandon Knight (Pistons)
PG – Isaiah Thomas (Kings)
PG – Alexey Shved (Timberwolves)
Currently there are five players combined on the rosters who have teams currently in the playoffs if the regular season were to hypothetically end today. There are a lot of players with promising potential – some that have already met that or exceeded their expectations – on both rosters, so it will be an event worth watching on All-Star weekend.
Three Cavalier players – Irving, Waiters and Zeller – will be playing for Shaq, while Thompson will be the lone teammate paired up with Chuck. The two carried out their drafts in different and distinct ways. It seems that Shaq was more focused on choosing shooters and players who can score at will, while Chuck went after more physical and height-advantaged guys.
Knowing that Tristan has a goofy and leadership-oriented mentality when handling himself off and on the court respectively, I think it will be interesting to see how Tristan plays with players who like to get down and dirty in the paint. We know how physical Faried is down low from first-hand experience, but I’m hoping that we get the opportunity to see those two players on the court at the same time. Another interesting duo on this roster could be Rubio and Thompson, as the sophomore power forward hasn’t yet played with a pass-first point guard.
On the other hand, Irving (scored a game-high 34 points in an MVP performance last season) will get the chance to play with Barnes – a player that went one pick after Waiters in the 2012 NBA Draft. Many thought that Barnes was the right player to draft at No. 4, but GM Chris Grant went for Waiters due to Cleveland’s lack of depth at the two. The three was an equally weak position at the time of the draft, but Cleveland at least had someone on the radar with starting experience in Alonzo Gee (he wasn’t signed until after the draft). If Irving and Barnes somehow gel, there may be some backlash from the Cavalier community.
Chandler Parsons will also be a viable player for Irving to rely on in the game, as he has been talked about as a good fit at the three in Cleveland’s offense. Parsons hasn’t garnered a whole lot of attention since entering the league, but his star has been shining bright for quite some time now.
The game will be broadcasted on TNT at 9 p.m. on Friday and the fans will have the opportunity to vote on which players should start the game for both teams. Here are the rookies and sophomores who I think should get the nod as starters:
Team Shaq Starters:
PG – Kyrie Irving
SG – Klay Thompson
SF – Chandler Parsons
F – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
C – Tyler Zeller
Team Chuck Starters:
PG – Ricky Rubio
SG – Bradley Beal
SF – Kawhi Leonard
PF – Kenneth Faried
C – Anthony Davis