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  • The Locksmith

NBA Rising Stars Tournament (2/18): Picks and Predictions

This All-Star Game Weekend is poised to be great, based on all of the formatting and rules adjustments to the events.

I’m not saying this is going to live up to the hype of the Nate Robinson-Dwight Howard Slam Dunk Contest, but this is the first ASG Weekend I’m truly excited for in several years. The League implementing the Elam Ending to the All-Star Game brought back the competitive edge that had been lost over the last decade. I suggest reading the changes below before entering your bets for the weekend.

Rising Stars Tournament

As usual, the Rising Stars Challenge, now a Tournament, features some of the brightest and most talented rookies and sophomores in the NBA, including LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, and Cade Cunningham. The 28 players have been divided into 4 teams coached by NBA legends, Gary Payton, James Worthy, Isaiah Thomas and Rick Barry. The most intriguing wrinkle in the new format is the inclusion of the G-League Ignite studs, who are all playing their first year of pro basketball. These Rising Stars are headlined by Scoot Henderson and Jaden Hardy, who many casuals will be introduced to over this weekend and as the Ignite season progresses.

The games will be played with a target score in mind and that target score will be 75 to represent the celebration of the NBA’s 75th anniversary. The first two games will have a target score of 50 points and the third game will end when one team reaches 25 points.

Team Isiah (+170)

Precious Achiuwa, Desmond Bane, Saddiq Bey, Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Hlaiburton, Jaden Hardy (Ignite), Isaiah Stewart

Team Barry (+260)

Cade Cunningham, Dyson Daniels (Ignite), Evan Mobley, Isaac Okoro, Alperen Sengun, Jae’Sean Tate, Franz Wagner

Team Payton (+300)

LaMelo Ball, Scottie Barnes, Ayo Dosunmu, Jonathan Kuminga (replacing Chris Duarte), Scoot Henderson (Ignite), Jaden McDaniels, Davion Mitchell

Team Worthy (+350)

Cole Anthony, MarJon Beauchamp (Ignite), Josh Giddey, Jalen Green, Herbert Jones, Tyrese Maxey, Jalen Suggs

The Pick: Team Payton (+300)

It’s not too often when the Coach will be talking the most shit out of anyone in this Tournament. The Glove has some dawgs on his squad, combined with LaMelo and Scoot who have the entertaining type of games that are desired in a setting like this. Davion “Off-Night” Mitchell and Scottie Barnes will bring defense and the competitive edge that Coach Payton brought to the court over his career.

Chirp me on Twitter @PickinConor if you don’t like my pick and stayed tuned for the rest of the ASG Weekend plays as the Weekend Progresses.

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