NBA Rising Stars Challenge: What bettors need to know
Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal have selected their rosters for the NBA Rising Stars Game set to take place Friday night and oddsmakers are siding with Team Shaq.
Handicapping these kinds of games is nearly impossible. But, if there are odds on it, we’re going to be betting it. So, here’s a breakdown of both sides - by position – giving the edge to either Team Chuck or Team Shaq.
Team Chuck vs. Team Shaq (-6.5, 281.5)
Shaq used three of his first four picks to solidify his backcourt, taking Damien Lillard with his first pick, Kyrie Irving with his second, and Klay Thompson with his fourth selection. Diesel also snagged Irving’s teammate Dion Waiters and was assigned point man Kemba Walker, who is averaging over 17 points per game.
Barkley didn’t select a guard until his fourth pick (Bradley Beal), but was able to snag Spanish sensation Ricky Rubio with his fifth pick. Brandon Knight, Isaiah Thomas and Alexey Shved round out the talent at the back end.
Edge: Team Shaq
Shaq selected Pistons C Andre Drummond as his first big and doesn’t have a true power forward on his roster. The Big Aristotle decided to go small by selecting SFs Harrison Barnes, Chandler Parsons, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with his later picks and also has Cavaliers C Tyler Zeller to help with rebounding.
It’s no surprise that Chuck’s strategy consisted of grabbing the most talented forwards. Barkley wasted to time selecting former No. 1 pick Anthony Davis and beefed up his frontcourt with Kenneth Faried, Kawhi Leonard, and Tristan Thompson in the later rounds of the draft.
Edge: Team Chuck
Kyrie Irving had a game-high 34 points to lead Team Chuck to a 146-133 victory last season. Barkley’s roster consisted mainly of guards and swingmen in the up-tempo glorified track meet, much like the way Team Shaq’s roster is built this year. In a game where defense doesn’t matter, bigs should have less of an impact.
Edge: Team Shaq