It’s that time of year, the Texas “winter” thaw is in full effect (it’s 87 degrees in San Antonio today), the San Antonio Spurs not named LaMarcus Aldridge are taking a well deserved break from the season, and basketball fans the world over gather ‘round for the NBA All-Star Weekend. This three day event culminates in Sunday night’s All-Star Game, but tonight’s festivities can be just as entertaining as they are enlightening about the future of the NBA.
At 6:00 CST you can catch the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game presented by Ruffles on ESPN. This year’s celebrities feature a “home” and “away” team with the Home Team players possessing Carolina roots.
But tonight’s main event is the Mountain Dew Ice Rising Stars game.
Team U.S.A. vs. Team World
February 15, 2019 | 8:00 PM CT
Team U.S.: Jarrett Allen, Marvin Bagley III, John Collins, De’Aaron Fox, Jaren Jackson Jr., Kevin Knox, Kyle Kuzma, Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum, Trae Young.
Injuries: Lonzo Ball
Team World: OG Anunoby, Deandre Ayton, Bogdan Bogdanović, Luka Dončić, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Rodions Kurucs, Lauri Markkanen, Josh Okogie, Cedi Osman, Ben Simmons.
The 25th annual Rising Star pits Ben Simmons, last season’s Rookie of the Year, against Donovan Mitchell, the ROTY runner up.
Simmons who is averaging 17 points, 8 assists 9.4 rebounds per game this season, is the assist leader for Team World. In addition, World (which represents ten countries on four continents) also features Luka Dončić, the front-runner of this year’s ROTY honors. His 20.7 points per game leads this Rising Star squad. Phoenix Suns DeAndre Ayton’s 10.6 rebounds per game rounds our the team’s leaders.
For Team U.S.A., Hawk’s John Collins leads in points and rebounds per game with 19.6 and 10 while fellow Atlanta teammate Trae Young’s 7.4 assists puts him at the top of the heap.
Key Match ups
Center: Team World features Ayton as their primary big man. He should pair up dominantly against the Nets’ Jarrett Allen and/or Grizzlies’ Jaren Jackson Jr. Don’t get me wrong, both Team U.S.A. players have potential to be elite big men, but neither has the size to control Ayton and Jackson Jr. is still prone to excessive fouling.
After the recent Rodeo Road Trip, this Spurs fan is excited to watch De’Aaron Fox in a game where he’s not shredding my team. It will be interesting who Team World puts on him defensively. His quickness and agility allow him to draw mismatches and find open 3-point shooters. One of the players Fox connects with is Marvin Bagley III who will be playing alongside his fellow Sacramento King.
Speaking of the Kings, the separation of U.S. citizens vs. immigrants does create some inter-team strife. While the Sacramento Kings have Fox and Bagley III together, they will be looking across court at teammate Bogdan Bogdanovic who is playing for Team World. If the three will appear at the same time remains to be seen. In addition, Jarrett Allan and Rodoins Kurucs are both Brooklyn Nets, but tonight they are opponents.
MVP Prediction: Luka Doncic.
Vegas prediction: Team U.S.A. by 1.
Game prediction: There is a 1.375 in 5.7 chance that Team U.S.A. wins.