T-Mobile NBA Rookie Challenge: What bettors need to know

Jason Logan
NBA Rookies vs. NBA Sophomores (-7)

Betting on an All-Star game is always a slippery slope for handicappers. Wagering on an All-Star game featuring first and second-year players is a downright crapshoot.

As we’ve seen in past years, the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge starts off with the best of intentions. Players are quick to pass up the first look in order to toss a wayward alley-oop attempt or behind-the-back, no-look dime. But by the time the second half rolls around, these young studs are out to one-up each other – teammate or not.
Evans and Blair shared MVP honors last year in Dallas.

Since adding sophomore players to the mix in 2000, the second-year NBA standouts have won eight of the 11 All-Star Weekend events, taking those games by an average margin of more than 20 points.

The Rookies, however, are the defending champs heading into Los Angeles, having knocked off the Sophomore squad 140-128 in Dallas last February (note: Derrick Rose did not play for the Sophomores because he was involved in the NBA All-Star Game).

Tyreke Evans of the Sacramento Kings and DeJuan Blair of the San Antonio Spurs took home co-MVP honors in last year’s win.

Breakdown by position

Point guards

Former Kentucky teammates John Wall and Eric Bledsoe will be running the show for the Rookie team this Friday. Both have emerged as budding playmakers for their respective teams and give the first-year squad a lot of speed in a game that tends to run wide open.

Evans, who scored 26 points as a rookie last All-Star Weekend, was set to join the Sophomore side this season, but will miss the event due to plantar fasciitis. He sat out Sacramento’s final game before the break with the nagging foot injury and passed on Friday night’s game in order to rest up for Tuesday’s action. Taking over the main ball-handling duties from Evans is Bucks PG Brandon Jennings, who finished with eight assists for the Rookies last year. He'll be joined by Philadelphia's budding point guard, Jrue Holiday. Holiday is averaging just under 17 points over his last four games and leads the Sixers with more than six assists per game this season.


Wing players

The Rookies boast Gary Neal, Wesley Johnson and Landry Fields on the wing, giving them a nice inside-out game. Fields is quickly becoming a star in the Big Apple while Neal comes into All-Star Weekend playing his best basketball, scoring a total of 38 points off the bench for the Spurs in his last three games. Johnson, however, has all but disappeared in Minnesota, averaging just under six points a night this month.
Stephen Curry leads the Sophomore wing attack.
The second-year group has sharp-shooting Stephen Curry, high-flying DeMar DeRozan, the versatile Wesley Matthews and OKC's James Harden, who replaced Evans in the lineup. Given that these four players combine to average around 61 points per game this season, it’s not tough to see who has the advantage on the perimeter.

Edge: Sophomores

Big men

Thanks to a knee injury that sid

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