February 8, 2013;Cleveland, OH USA: Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (2) shoots during the game against the Orlando Magic at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Eric P. Mull-USA TODAY Sports

NBA All-Star 2013: BBVA Rising Stars Challenge Preview

Ever since the NBA has mixed rookies and second-year players together on teams via draft, watching Shaq and Kenny Smith on TNT has been nothing short of comical. The two-former players duel it out, trying to form the best team as possible for the upcoming BBVA Rising Stars Challenge.

To everyone’s surprise, Shaq took Damian Lillard with the first overall pick. Not that Lillard is undeserving, but Kyrie Irving is an All-Star. Regardless, Kenny Smith would take advantage of his luck and pick up the second-year phenomenon. Right? Wrong. With the second pick, Kenny Smith took the first overall pick in last year’s draft, Anthony Davis. Davis is an extraordinary talent as well, but over Kyrie Irving? The slip then finally ended, as Shaq drafted Irving to round out his dynamic back court duo.

The rest of Team Shaq consists of Detroit’s Andre Drummond, Golden State’s Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes, Houston’s Chandler Parsons, Cleveland’s Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller, and Charlotte’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kemba Walker.

After taking Anthony Davis with his first pick, Kenny Smith built a team that consists of Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio, Denver’s Kenneth Faried, San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, Washington’s Bradley Beal, Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson, Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic, Detroit’s Brandon Knight, Sacramento’s Isaiah Thomas, and Minnesota’s Alexey Shved.

My pick for MVP is Kyrie Irving. The second-year man out of Duke is averaging 23.9 points, 5.5 assists, and 3.7 assists per game this season. He’s shooting an outstanding 42.7% on three-point attempts, and is also racking up an impressive number of steals, 1.7 per game to be exact. Irving will be the best player on the court when the Rising Stars take the court, and I fully expect for him personally to put on a show.

Former-Sixer Nikola Vucevic will also try to establish himself as a future-star. Vucevic has flown somewhat under the radar due to Orlando’s struggles this season. However, the second-year center out of  USC has averaged a double-double this season. The seven-footer has improved in every area of the game since being dealt to the Magic in the Dwight Howard/Andrew Bynum blockbuster trade this offseason.

TNT will have the coverage on Friday at 9:00 P.M.


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Tags: Alexey Shved Andre Drummond Anthony Davis BBVA Rising Stars Challenge Bradley Beal Brandon Knight Chandler Parsons Charlotte Bobcats Cleveland Cavaliers Damian Lillard Denver Nuggets Detroit Pistons Dion Waiters Golden State Warriors Harrison Barnes Houston Rockets Isaiah Thomas Kawhi Leonard Kemba Walker Kenneth Faried Kenny Smith Klay Thompson Kyrie Irving Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Minnesota Timberwolves NBA All-Star 2013 New Orleans Hornets New Orleans Pelicans Nikola Vucevic Orlando Magic Portland Trailblazers Ricky Rubio Sacramento Kings San Antonio Spurs Shaq Tristan Thompson Tyler Zeller Washington Wizards

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