NBA Rising Stars Challenge 2014: The Most Exciting Matchups to Watch

Allison WilliamsContributor IFebruary 13, 2014

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 21: Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons and Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans poses for a photo during a reception for the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery on May 21, 2013 at the Millennium Hotel in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Steven Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Retired players Chris Webber and Grant Hill will lead their selected rookie teams to face each other in a battle of rookies and sophomores in the NBA Rising Star Challenge

Team Webber has five players currently ranked in the Top 10 of the NBA's Rookie Ladder. Team Hill currently has one ranked rookie.

Those numbers are not a testament to the talent of the players involved but rather to the number of rookies on each team. While Team Webber boasts seven rookies out of the nine players, the only sophomores are New Orleans' Anthony Davis and Boston's Jared Sullinger. Team Hill has a single rookie—Giannis Antetokounmpo.

This leaves a large portion of Webber's team up against a slightly more experienced group, but despite the gap in NBA experience, the Challenge will offer a few can't-miss matchups:

The game, which will be televised on TNT, will be held at New Orlean's Smoothie King Center on Friday, Feb. 14 at 9 p.m. ET.

 

Andre Drummond vs. Anthony Davis

Davis was selected first overall in the Challenge, but is challenged with the task of leading a team that only has one other sophomore.

Davis is averaging 20.7 points, 1.4 assists and 10.3 rebounds with a 15.6 percent PIE. He stands against Detroit's Drummond, who leads Team Hill in rebound average with 12.9, is fourth in points average per game and is tied for last in assists per game.

 

Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Jonas Valanciunas vs. Jared Sullinger

The other sophomore player on Team Webber is the Boston Celtic's center-forward Jared Sullinger. Sharing the burden of leading by example, Sullinger averages 13.4 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.6 assist per game.

Valanciunas, a sophomore player with the Toronto Raptors and Team Hill, follows Drummond in rebound average with 8.7. His other statistics include 10.8 points per game average and an 10.2 percent PIE.

 

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards shoots against Michael Carter-Williams #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers during the game at the Verizon Center on January 20, 2014 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledg
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Bradley Beal vs. Michael Carter-Williams

Beal, Washington's sophomore guard, averages 17 points, 3.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists a game.

The NBA has Philadelphia's rookie guard Michael Carter-Williams ranked second on the NBA Rookie Ladder, a rung down from the last ranking. Though the Sixers are in a six-game losing streak, in his last four games, Carter-Williams has 14.8 points, five rebounds and 5.3 assists. On the other hand, he has averaged 5.0 turnovers a game.

Carter-Williams has the distinct edge in rebound (5.4) and assist (6.4) averages, but Beal (17 pts, 9.6 percent PIE) and Carter-Williams (17.1 points, 9.7 percent PIE) sit close in points average and PIE percentage.

 

Statistics are courtesy of NBA.com.