Betting odds courtesy of Bovada
The NBA Rising Stars Challenge will be a high scoring affair filled with a lot of excitement. NBA oddsmakers at Bovada set the total at a seeming absurd 283, but these events are not known for defensive displays. Team Hill is favored by 4-points in the NBA odds.
Team Hill is comprised of mostly second-year players, while Team Webber is primarily rookies. This may be part of why NBA oddsmakers favored them, but another thing to keep in mind is that these are typically perimeter oriented games. That would seem to lend an edge to team Hill, whose best player is 2013 Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard. Lillard has a host of perimeter talents with him in Bradley Beal, Harrison Barnes and Dion Waiters.
Team Webber, conversely, spent its first pick on Anthony Davis, which isn’t bad considering someone will have to protect the rim as the defense breaks down. Michael Carter-Williams was the first backcourt player taken by Team Webber, and he’s having a phenomenal rookie season.
Lillard, like most 1-men, is a few inches shorter than the 6’6″ Carter-Williams, and his ability to see over the defense is going to bode well for Davis and the other bigs on Team Webber (notably Jared Sullinger, Miles Plumlee and Kelly Olynyk).
Team Webber has good guards; it’s just that they are rookies. Webber chose Tim Hardaway Jr. of the Knicks with his third pick and Trey Burke with his fourth, but his real heist may have been snagging Victor Oladipo so late. Oladipo is a defensive game changer and very athletic, and in a fast paced game his ability to come up with steals and lead in transition could end up proving huge for team Webber.
Overall, the experience factor is what is going to lead me to pick Team Hill in this. Lillard is the best player in this game and he’ll have the ball in his hands most of the time. He has enough athletic finishers around him (Andre Drummond, Barnes, Terrence Jones, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Dion Waiters, Plumlee and Jonas Valanciunas) to dish the ball out and rack up a lot of assists. Drummond has made monstrous strides in his second year and is a real physical specimen. Even a strong defender like Davis (who ranges on the thin side) can have problems with Drummond’s mass and athleticism. Expect Team Hill to cover the spread, and this one could easily be a blowout.