For the second consecutive season, Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley will be the general managers of the teams involved in the NBA Rising Stars Challenge. Barkley's team picked up a 146-133 victory in 2012.
In 2013, expect Shaq's team to dominate a one-sided affair in Houston.
The rosters were drafted live on TNT's NBA Tip-Off show. Much like in 2012, Shaq owned the rights to the first overall draft choice.
O'Neal decided to take Rookie of the Year front-runner and Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard.
With the second pick, Barkley opted to go a different route. Rather than taking the best available point guard, Chuck chose Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Hornets.
This allowed Shaq to take Kyrie Irving with the second pick. And thus the makings of a blowout began.
Per NBA.com, O'Neal's team will appear as follows:
- Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
- Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
- Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
- Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers
- Kemba Walker, Charlotte Bobcats
- Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats
- Chandler Parsons, Houston Rockets
- Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
- Tyler Zeller, Cleveland Cavaliers
A stacked roster, indeed.
On the other side, Barkley crafted together a frontcourt heavy team. He started out the selection process with the first overall draft choice in the 2012 NBA draft, Anthony Davis.
From there, he continued to go with frontcourt players. Again and again.
- Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
- Brandon Knight, Detroit Pistons
- Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves
- Alexey Shved, Minnesota Timberwolves
- Isaiah Thomas, Sacramento Kings
- Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets
- Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets
- Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
- Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers
- Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic
A solid, but certainly not spectacular, crop of talent.
With the rosters being known, where is it that Shaq's team takes down Chuck's? What separates the two teams of rising stars?
Plain and simple, it's all about style of play.
All-Star Game Defense
In case you've never watched an NBA All-Star game, you should know that there is no form of defense during such outings. For that reason, one has to ask Barkley one very important question.
Why would you pass up on the scoring elite for a group of defenders?
If this were a regular season game, it might be closer than we're giving it credit for. For a game which ended at 146-133 in 2012, however, why would you even attempt to draft defense?
Chances are that end of the floor will be irrelevant.
This game is going to be decided by who can hit more shots than the other team. Although Barkley's squad has a great deal of playmakers, they lack finishers and shooters.
Shaq's team, meanwhile, is an offensive haven.
Up-and-Down, Spread It Around
When it comes to an All-Star game, the tempo is almost always high. As athletic as Charles Barkley's frontcourt may be, they pale in comparison to Shaquille O'Neal's backcourt.
This one is going to be up-tempo and decided by the three-ball. Again.
When it comes to pushing the pace, there are few better than Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard. They'll likely work the floor together and run a small-ball rotation to offset Barkley's size.
From there, you can put money on Klay Thompson taking over with the three-point shot. If not, don't forget that Irving hit eight three-pointers during the 2012 game.
Apparently Barkley forgot how he won and decided to go with the strategy that helped Shaq lose.
Furthermore, Shaq has Kemba Walker in his backcourt. For those unfamiliar, Walker is averaging 17.5 points per game in an up-tempo offense under Mike Dunlap with the Charlotte Bobcats.
Up-and-down, spread it around.
All About Entertainment
As nice as it would be to see the young interior players of tomorrow post-up and take it to the rack, that's not what this game is meant for. Much like any other All-Star Weekend activity, this is all about entertainment.
Expect threes and dunks all around.
For that reason, it is fair to assume that foul calls will be a rarity and Shaq's elite backcourt will work it's way into openings. Although Barkley's bigs will provide dunk value, they won't be able to compete offensively.
This is going to be a high-scoring affair that ends up not being close at all. Shaq gets the W for a full year of bragging rights.
Rights that he will take advantage of at every turn.
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