Rising Stars Challenge: Determining Which Young Talents Actually Become Stars

Hunter KonsensCorrespondent IIFebruary 20, 2012

Rising Stars Challenge: Determining Which Young Talents Actually Become Stars

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    The 2012 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge player pool is home to some of the best and brightest talents from around the NBA. From Team Shaq's explosive squad to Team Chuck's more traditional roster, an epic clash will likely take place during this year's All-Star Weekend due to the immense skill on both sides. After all, the competition has the phrase "Rising Stars" in its title. 

    However, how many of these up-and-comers will actually develop into stars in this league?

    In the following slides, I will determine which players have the best chance of becoming the new faces of the NBA.

Blake Griffin, Team Shaq

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    From high-flying slams to a knack for collecting rebounds, Blake Griffin has definitely made his presence known around the league in his first two years as a professional. Last season, Griffin not only took home the NBA Rookie of the Year award, but also was selected to the Western Conference All-Star team.

    This season, Griffin is leading a powerhouse Clippers team to the upper echelon of the conference, while earning a starting spot on the All-Star team.

    In the end, Griffin is already a star in the Association.

    Star Potential: 10/10

Kyrie Irving, Team Chuck

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    Kyrie Irving has single-handedly instilled hope in a Cleveland fanbase still shaken from "The Decision." The first overall pick from this year's draft has absolutely lived up to the hype, as he has kept the Cavaliers in contention for the last spot in the playoffs. 

    It would be quite shocking if Irving doesn't become a standout one day. The former Duke star is a fantastic facilitator and can score in a variety of ways. I fully expect to see Irving become a perennial All-Star in the league.

    Star Potential: 9/10

Jeremy Lin, Team Shaq

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    Shaq couldn't resist the hype and selected sophomore sensation Jeremy Lin as the third overall pick in the draft.

    Lin, who may even be a star right now, has all the tools to develop into an elite facilitator. The former Harvard star can nail down the open three-ball, penetrate the lane effectively and run the offense pretty efficiently. 

    Star Potential: 7/10

DeMarcus Cousins, Team Chuck

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    Despite the character issues, DeMarcus Cousins is an elite young talent in the NBA. In a league where the center position is seriously lacking star power, Cousins has been able to dominate the opposition due to his tremendous size and refined low-post game. 

    Cousins, who is having a fantastic season, is averaging nearly 17 points and 11 boards per game. 

    All I want to know is, why didn't this former Kentucky star receive more All-Star consideration?

    Star Potential: 8/10

Ricky Rubio, Team Shaq

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    Don't look now, but the Minnesota Timberwolves are relevant again. This rise to competitiveness can be credited to the stellar play of Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love, as both players have had successful campaigns thus far.

    Rubio, whom some doubted would ever play a minute in the NBA, has shown flashes of brilliance, as his play has been compared to star Steve Nash. 

    In my opinion, Rubio will absolutely develop into an elite point guard for the Timberwolves.

    Star Potential: 9/10

Paul George, Team Chuck

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    Paul George is absolutely a unique talent. Despite being nearly seven feet tall, the former Fresno State star is versatile enough to start at the shooting guard position.

    Due to his fantastic length and athleticism, George has developed into a lockdown defender. Plus, this talented sophomore can score in a plethora of ways due to the matchup problems he creates.

    George may never develop into an All-Star, but his skill set is extremely valuable to the Pacers' franchise.

    Star Potential: 6/10

Greg Monroe, Team Shaq

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    Greg Monroe is quietly having a breakout campaign. Despite playing on a horrendous Detroit Pistons squad, the 6'11" center is averaging 16 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game. 

    Monroe possesses a refined offensive game, including an efficient mid-range jumper, and holds his own versus the Eastern Conference's elite centers. 

    Star Potential: 6/10

Derrick Williams, Team Chuck

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    Even though he does not receive consistent major minutes in Minnesota, there is no doubt that the former second overall pick is extremely talented.

    In his last year at the University of Arizona, Derrick Williams showed the nation that he is absolutely capable of huge things at the professional level.

    As of right now, Williams is averaging a measly seven points per game, but look out once he starts seeing starter-quality playing time.

    Star Potential: 7/10

Markieff Morris, Team Shaq

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    Markieff Morris is a classic "tweener" in the NBA, as he can play both forward positions. Morris also creates many matchup problems for opponents. He is too big for the average small forward and too fast for the average power forward.

    Plus, the former University of Kansas star can hit the three-pointer with consistency, a skill the Phoenix Suns heavily rely upon.

    Morris will probably never be an All-Star talent, but the Suns definitely found a respectable, young forward in last year's draft.

    Star Potential: 4/10

MarShon Brooks, Team Chuck

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    Before going down due to a broken toe, MarShon Brooks was having a fantastic rookie season. Brooks, along with Deron Williams, formed a formidable guard duo that rivaled the NBA's best. Even though the New Jersey Nets weren't winning many games, these two players were wreaking havoc on opponents.

    However, since coming back from injury, Brooks hasn't quite found the level of success he first experienced.

    Nonetheless, Brooks definitely has the potential to develop into an elite scorer one day, as he is already averaging 14 points per game in his rookie season.

    Star Potential: 6/10 

Last 5 Team Shaq Players

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    Kemba Walker

    Despite playing on a terrible Charlotte Bobcats team, Walker has shown the Association that he still possesses the scoring capabilities that made him a star at UConn. 

    Walker may not be a "true" point guard, but the rookie definitely has a bright future in this league.

    Star Potential: 7/10

    Norris Cole

    Cole exploded onto the scene at the beginning of the season due to his huge scoring ouputs, but has cooled down considerably since that time. 

    However, Cole is still putting up respectable stats, as the former Cleveland State star is averaging nine points and two assists per game.

    I would not be surprised to see Cole assume the starting point guard role in the coming months. 

    Star Potential: 4/10

    Landry Fields

    Landry Fields is a reliable three-point threat for the New York Knicks, but the sophomore is nothing more than a role player.

    The best-case scenario for Fields is for him to develop into a more athletic Mike Miller of the Miami Heat.

    Star Potential: 2/10

    Tristan Thompson

    Thompson has tons of potential on the defensive side of the court, as he is already a premier shot-blocker in the Association.

    However, Thompson's offensive skills are still raw, and the power forward still has more adjusting to do if he wants to become a star in this competitive league.

    Star Potential: 6/10

    Brandon Knight

    On a team filled with point guards, there is a chance Knight sees little action during the Rising Stars Challenge.

    However, little playing time has not been the norm for Knight this season, as he has seen major minutes for the Detroit Pistons.

    Knight has played admirably, but there is still a lot left to be desired. For instance, he has not facilitated the offense very efficiently.

    Star Potential: 6/10

Last 5 Team Chuck Players

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    Tiago Splitter

    Splitter has developed into a fantastic big man off the bench for the San Antonio Spurs. He brings energy and hustle to a veteran team that desperately lacks in those areas. Plus, he has improved considerably on the offensive side of the floor this season, as he is averaging nearly 10 points per game.

    However, it is doubtful that Splitter will ever turn into a star.

    Star Potential: 2/10

    Evan Turner

    After a disappointing rookie season, Evan Turner has stepped up his game and has turned into a franchise cornerstone for the Philadelphia 76ers moving forward. 

    Turner has shown the ability to score in a multitude of ways. Not only can he knock down open jumpers, but he can penetrate and finish strong at the basket.

    Star Potential: 5/10

    John Wall

    Earlier this week, John Wall voiced his opinion on being selected with the 12th overall pick. The former Kentucky star was shocked when he slipped that far down the board.

    In fact, I was also puzzled to see Wall not taken in the first few picks. Despite playing on a miserable Washington Wizards squad, Wall is absolutely one of the premier young talents in the league.

    After all, the point guard took home MVP honors for this very competition last year.

    Star Potential: 8/10

    Gordon Hayward

    Despite the considerable increase in stats this season, I fully believe Hayward is one of the most overrated players in the NBA. Sure, his points-per-game average almost doubled, but he is playing roughly 10 minutes more per contest. 

    In addition, there are no wings on the Utah Jazz roster to take shots away from Hayward.

    Star Potential: 3/10

    Kawhi Leonard

    Like Splitter, Kawhi Leonard brings energy and hustle to a San Antonio Spurs team filled with elder statesmen. 

    However, Leonard is more than just a high-energy guy. The former San Diego State star has a decent jumper and can drive to the basket effectively. 

    Plus, Leonard has a knack for racking up the rebounds, as he is averaging a shade under five per game.

    Star Potential: 5/10