The new tradition at NBA All-Star Weekend regarding the game between the rookies and sophomores is letting Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley draft teams from a pool made up of the two classes.
Last year was the first time the NBA did this. Barkley’s team won 146-133 as rookie Kyrie Irving captured MVP honors with 34 points and nine assists.
The two were back at it again last night drafting their teams. So which team is the favorite this year? Who had the better draft?
Well, you nearly have to give them both failing grades because Irving wasn’t taken until the third pick. Shaq went first and took rookie Damian Lillard then Barkley picked the No. 1 overall pick from the 2012 NBA Draft, Anthony Davis.
The fact that Shaq at least still ended up with Irving gives him a pass for now. Barkley taking Davis isn’t a horrible idea either since the game often hinges on who can finish the most alley-oops, something Davis is already one of the best in the league at. It’s still a head scratcher that Barkley wouldn’t draft his MVP from last year.
The key to this game is not only dunks but point guard play and three-point shooting. It also doesn’t hurt to end up with a few guys who are going to play hard.
Let’s break down which team is made up of the most of these four categories:
Team Shaq: Andre Drummond, Harrison Barnes, Dion Waiters
Team Chuck: Anthony Davis, Kenneth Faried, Tristan Thompson
Team Shaq: Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker
Team Chuck: Ricky Rubio, Brandon Knight, Isaiah Thomas
Team Shaq: Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson
Team Chuck: Bradley Beal, Brandon Knight
Going to Hustle and play a little D
Team Shaq: Chandler Parsons, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Tyler Zeller
Team Chuck: Kenneth Faried, Kawhi Leonard, Nikola Vucevic, Alexey Shved
As you can see, the amount of each type of player that each team has is pretty even. You gave to give Team Shaq a big advantage when it comes to point guard play and shooters. Team Chuck has better dunkers and finishers of alley-oops and also has better alley-oop passers with Rubio and Shved.
A key matchup will be Parsons and MKG vs. Faried and Leonard in the hustle category. You know MKG only knows one speed and should have a big game but who on Team Shaq is containing the Manimal?
At the end of the day, it will probably come down to which team has a player who is likely to just go off and take over. This is where Team Shaq has the edge. Between Irving, Lillard and Thompson, one of them is probably going to knock down five-plus treys. Team Chuck simply doesn’t have a player like that.
The edge goes to Team Shaq but it’s only a slight advantage.
The game will be played Feb. 15.