Friday, February 10, 2012

Rising Stars Game Draft

The Rising Stars Game, which formerly pitted the rookies against the sophomores, is going to be done a little bit differently this year. This time around, Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley are going to draft from the pool of players to build teams. I kind of like this idea and I figured I would give it a shot and see how I think the draft should go down. For reference here are the eligible players:

Rookies: Kyrie Irving, Ricky Rubio, Kemba Walker, MarShon Brooks, Brandon Knight, Kawhi Leonard, Markieff Morris, Tristan Thompson, and Derrick Williams

Sophomores: Blake Griffin, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Landry Fields, Paul George, Gordon Hayward, Greg Monroe, Tiago Splitter, Evan Turner

Shaq will get to pick first and I'll highlight his picks in blue with Barkley's being in red.

1. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
Griffin is the best player on the board, but if you are putting together a team I think you have to go with a point guard. Irving has been unbelievable for a rookie and is a nice place to start an offense.

2. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
No surprise here, he may go first due to highlight potential.

3. Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons
Monroe has the highest PER of the group, but is less flashy. After point guard though I'd go with big men since there are so many quality ones in this draft.

4. Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves
One way or another (unless somebody goes with 2 PG's early), Blake Griffin is going to be paired with an excellent rookie point guard. Imagine the lob potential of Ricky and Blake.

5. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
Might as well go huge. Monroe and Cousins could be an interesting high/low combination.

6. Tiago Splitter, San Antonio Spurs
It's between him and Paul George at this point, but pairing Blake with an effective center is a good strategy.

7. Paul George, Indiana Pacers
The best shooting guard in the group, he makes a formidable backcourt with Irving.

8. MarShon Brooks, New Jersey Nets
A scoring machine who would benefit from being paired with Rubio.

9. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
A great rebounder who fills out Shaq's starting lineup.

10. John Wall, Washington Wizards
He's much better than the other options on the perimeter and a Wall/Rubio backcourt should be interesting. They won't make a jumper, but they'll play open and fast with Blake around to finish the alley oops.

11. Derrick Williams, Minnesota Timberwolves
Close call between him and Evan Turner, but Shaq already has Paul George and Williams is a more exciting player.

12. Evan Turner, Philadelphia 76ers
Solid rebounder, capable ball-handler, and outstanding finisher. Playing well, but will probably slip because of a lack of flash.

13. Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz
This is where it starts to get rough. Hayward is a good athlete, but hasn't really figured it out yet.

14. Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers
Adds some frontcourt depth to the team.

15. Kemba Walker, Charlotte Bobcats
Has been solid for a rookie and his biggest weakness, a stunning lack of conviction on defense, doesn't really matter in a game like this. Will probably go higher despite being only the 4th best point guard among the eligible players.

16. Landry Fields, New York Knicks
Grasping at straws at this point.

17. Markieff Morris, Phoenix Suns
He's better than Knight I suppose.

18. Brandon Knight, Detroit Pistons
Would much rather see guys like Nikola Vucevic, Chandler Parsons, Alec Burks, or even the Jimmer considered for this spot instead of Knight.

So the starting lineups look like this:

Team Shaq
C- Greg Monroe
PF- DeMarcus Cousins
SF- Kawhi Leonard
SG- Paul George
PG- Kyrie Irving

Team Charles
C- Tiago Splitter
PF- Blake Griffin
SF- MarShon Brooks
SG- John Wall
PG- Ricky Rubio

I like Barkley's team in this scenario better just because of the explosiveness of the Griffin/Wall/Rubio/Brooks core in a game that is predicated about scoring. If defense were actually a facet of the game though, Team Shaq would be in good position. Still, this is an exciting new format and think it should make for a fun game.

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