NBA Rising Stars Challenge 2014: Grading Contest's Top Young Talents

Kenny DeJohn@@kennydejohnAnalyst IIIFebruary 15, 2014

Feb 14, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; Team Hill center Andre Drummond (0) holds up the MVP Trophy after Rising Stars Challenge at Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

Team Hill defeated Team Webber, 142-136, in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, and some of the league's most talented young stars put on a fantastic show during the game.

The future NBA superstars all produced at varying levels. Some showed up and rose to the occasion, while others put together rather disappointing performances. A few stole the show entirely.

Here are grades for the game's top talents based on their performances, as well as a brief explanation of why they earned their grade.


Andre Drummond, A+

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 14:  Andre Drummond of team Hill shoots a foul shot during the 2014 BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge at the Smoothie King Center on February 14, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and ag
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

Andre Drummond was an absolute force to be reckoned with, scoring 30 points on 12-of-21 shooting while also pulling down 25 boards.

The only thing he couldn't grab before it hit the floor was the game's MVP trophy:

Drummond told about his attitude before the game: "My mindset was to come out and play with energy, like I've been doing all year. I had my mind set to win the MVP, so I went out there and did it."

That type of mindset is what has made him so valuable to the Detroit Pistons over his first two seasons in the league. During his short career, he is averaging 10.3 points and 10.1 rebounds per game on 61 percent shooting.

He should be an All-Star weekend staple in the NBA for years to come.


Anthony Davis: B+

Bob Donnan/Associated Press

In front of his home crowd, Anthony Davis put together his usual strong performance. He scored 16 points, grabbed eight rebounds, dished out four assists, recorded three steals and blocked two shots. He really did fill the stat sheet.

His B-plus grade is relative, though. If he had collected these stats during a regular-season game, he would most definitely deserve an A. But because this game was played with the hopes of enormous numbers, he fell just a bit short.

That's not to say that the big man didn't have a strong game. This is the type of performance that has made him one of the best up-and-coming bigs in the NBA. He, like Drummond, will be at the NBA All-Star Weekend several more times over the course of his career.

He'll also be competing in the main event on Sunday.


Tim Hardaway Jr.: A+

If Team Webber had won the game, New York Knicks reserve (and rookie) Tim Hardaway Jr. would have been the MVP.

He was unstoppable. He shot 12-of-23 from the field en route to a 36-point performance. He only recorded one rebound and two assists, but his scoring ability was on display and definitely worthy of an A-plus.

Perhaps the best story of the night was the shootout that occurred between Hardaway and Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters. broke down the battle:

Waiters scored 15 consecutive points and Hardaway hit 10 in a row and 16 of 18 points that included four 3-pointers. Hardaway put Team Webber ahead 101-99 at the start of the barrage and it ended with Team Hill going ahead 114-112 on a pair of Waiters free throws.

They are two of the Eastern Conference's brightest young stars.



NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 14:  Team Hill's Dion Waiters #3 of the Cleveland Cavaliers runs on the court during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2014 as part of the 2014 NBA Allstar Weekend at the Smoothie King Center on February 14, 2014 in New Or
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Here are several other stars, their stats and grades in the Rising Stars Challenge:

Rising Stars Challenge Grades
Team HillDion Waiters31 PTS, 7 AST, 3 STA
Team HillDamian Lillard13 PTS, 5 REB, 5 ASTB
Team HillGiannis Antetokounmpo9 PTS, 2 REB, 2 AST, 1 BLKC+
Team HillHarrison Barnes16 PTS, 3 REB, 3 AST, 2 STB-
Team WebberMichael Carter-Williams17 PTS, 6 REB, 9 ASTA
Team WebberMason Plumlee20 PTS, 7 REB, 4 STA-
Team WebberVictor Oladipo13 PTS, 1 REB, 4 ASTB-
Team WebberTrey Burke6 PTS, 6 AST, 1 STC