NBA Rising Stars Challenge 2013: Rookies Who Will Take Control in Houston

Jonathan MunshawCorrespondent IFebruary 15, 2013

Point guard Damian Lillard highlights a star-studded 2013 NBA Rising Stars Challenge that also features Kyrie Irving and Ricky Rubio.
Point guard Damian Lillard highlights a star-studded 2013 NBA Rising Stars Challenge that also features Kyrie Irving and Ricky Rubio.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

When Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal selected their respective teams for the Rising Stars Challenge, they both knew they had some of the best rookies and sophomores in the league.

The game is sure to showcase some of the best young talent in the league, including Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson and Ricky Rubio, who are all in their second years in the league.

While there are a number of impressive sophomores playing for Team Shaq and Team Chuck, it could be the rookies who stand out in the game and prove to a national audience that they are here to stay.


Damian Lillard

The 6'3" point guard for the Portland Trail Blazers is the front-runner for Rookie of the Year honors, as he ranks No. 1 in the ESPN Rookie Ranking, the rookie ladder and the rookie rating

Among all players in the NBA, Lillard is 20th in the league in scoring, averaging 18.3 points per game.

The rookie is also a leader on the court for Portland, leading the team in assists per game (6.5), which also ranks 14th in the league.

When Shaq took Lillard No. 1 overall in the challenge draft, he knew exactly what he was getting; a player who can lead the team down the court and put his teammates in positions to score while putting up a few points himself.


Anthony Davis

Right after Lillard was snatched up by Team Shaq, Team Chuck came in and picked up New Orleans Hornets power forward Anthony Davis.

Davis, a rookie out of Kentucky, has more than proved his worth to the Hornets so far. The 19-year-old averages 27.8 minutes per game and leads New Orleans in blocks with almost two per game.

The No. 1 overall pick in 2012 has shot 51.4 percent from the floor, averaging 12.5 points per game.

These are the types of games that Davis should shine in, given the hype following him going into the draft this season, and it's likely he'll make one or two plays that make the crowd and Barkley go wild before the night is over.


Bradley Beal

Prior to John Wall's return to the Washington Wizards in January, the 19-year-old shooting guard out of Florida led the Wizards in a number of statistical categories. Since Wall's return, Beal has fit in nicely in Washington's lineup, and he and Wall are working together to turn the team's season around.

Beal was a mid-round pick for Team Chuck, but Washington's leader in minutes should prove to be worth more than that Friday night. 

The No. 1 pick for the Wizards in 2012 is second on the team in points per game (13.2) and is ranked third on the Rookie Ladder.

Beal should work well with Davis and Rubio and could easily find himself in the starting lineup for Team Chuck.