The NBA is always tinkering with All-Star weekend and the changes continued this year.
The Rookie-Sophomore Challenge was rebranded as the Rising Stars Challenge and NBA legends Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley each selected a squad of 10 players from a list of some of the top first- and second-year players in the NBA.
Mistakes were made and Sportsnet Magazine’s Dave Zarum and sportsnet.ca’s Kevin Nielsen held a draft of their own in order to right a few wrongs.
(Note: They also considered holding a celebrity draft but the scouting reports for JB Smoove, Neyo and the Property Brothers remain sketchy at best.)
The new draft order is listed below along with the player originally selected.
With the first pick, Team Zarum selects… Allen Iverson. (I refuse to let Barkley live this down). For real though, I’ll take Blake Griffin, because… do I really need to justify this?
Call me Lin-sane but this draft is not about potential. It is about winning this weekend and putting on a show for the fans. Lin may turn out to be a flash in the pan but Lin-demonium will rule the weekend down in the Magic Kingdom.
I’d like to think that the sole reason the NBA re-jigged the format for this year’s Rookie-Sophomore game was so that Rubio can throw lob after lob after lob to Blake, followed by the two joining forces for a stirring rendition of ‘Me and Rubio Down By The Schoolyard’. Let’s make it happen.
There’s a 50-50 chance that Cousins will do something crazy during the game. I like those kind of odds for my team. There is also nobody that can cover him in this game if Cousins decides to he wants to dominate and is fed the ball.
Note: I really wanted to team Wall with Cousins based on last year’s game (Nielsen!). But in an exhibition game where pace and athleticism rule, I’ll happily start Wall at shooting guard alongside my first two picks. Wall inexplicably dropped to 12th in the ‘real’ draft, probably because the Wizards are god-awful and completely unwatchable, but I won’t let a silly thing like meaningful-basketball-games-that-count-in-the-standings get in the way this time around.
This is where it gets a little harder to start selecting players. Unless there name is Norris Cole! Badabing! First Norris Cole joke of the day. Both players can move back and forth between the one and two spots. Just goes to show how many good, young point guards are emerging in the NBA these days.
Prediction: This will be the first time we see a dunk break out between two teammates in the middle of a game (Who you got — Blake or George?). Also, my team is going to be so much fun to watch (I’m actually starting to get a little bummed that these aren’t the actual teams).
There is no one in the game that can rise higher than Derrick Williams. When he was at Arizona, he made the Wildcats a team to watch. No one throws an alley-oop like Lin and he will connect nicely with Williams.
He’s been a beast this season, averaging more than 16 points and nine boards a game, and ideally he’ll help contain Cousins. To recap, my starting five: Ricky Rubio, John Wall, Paul George, Blake Griffin, Greg Monroe. No complaints here.
I will continue to solidify my backcourt by taking this game’s best shooter in Knight. He has quietly put together a solid rookie campaign in Motown by averaging 12.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG and 3.5 APG.
Call me biased, but whatever, I’m meeting the CanCon requirements Also, Thompson has been quietly tearing it up since coming back from injury and put up a double double (10 points, 10 boards) in 16 minutes on Wednesday night. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.
Damn you Zarum! I wanted to team up the Cavs rookies. That being said, I will grab Turner here. He can guard almost any position and grabs boards to boot. This Ohio St. product just has a high basketball IQ.
With lucky No. 13: Kemba Walker. A tough, young guard who’s simply fun as hell to watch. Notice a theme here?
A late replacement for Tiago Splitter, Favors will add more size in a game which is lacking in big men.
Fulfills Team Zarum’s quota for heart and hustle. Also, in case even any signs of defence break out, (okay, you can stop laughing now), I want Leonard on my side.
Brooks is about the only positive note in a very disappointing season in New Jersey. Will add more size and scoring to a deep, deep backcourt. I sense many three-guard sets for Team Nielsen.
I came this close to passing on Hayward because of his public love for World of Warcraft, but then I remembered this was about basketball. And Gordie can play.
With all of the criticism of the James Dolan Era in New York, they continue to do an excellent job in the NBA draft. Fields and Iman Shumpert back that statement up.
Because a) Norris Cole shouldn’t be in this game, not over Isaiah Thomas or Klay Thompson or Bismack Biyombo, and b)Morris flies under the radar (unless you’re Shaq, clearly) but he’s made a surprisingly quick transition to the NBA from Kansas. In case you were wondering, he probably won’t get a ton of floor time on my team. But it’s just an honour for him to be included on Team Zarum, I’m sure.
Mr. Irrelevant was added to the field late to fit in Jeremy Lin. Always fun to have someone on your squad that has both two first names and two last names as well. Very versatile indeed.