Which 2018 NBA Rising Stars Challenge Participants Profile as Future Superstars?
NBA All-Star weekend is officially here. For most casual fans, though, it really doesn't start until Saturday night, when things heat up with the 3-Point Shootout and Slam Dunk Contest. But let's not look past Friday's Rising Stars Challenge.
While there hasn't been much defense played in this game for quite some time (the teams have averaged 281.7 total points since the format changed in 2012), it's a great opportunity to see the league's future talent all on the floor at once. With only first- or second-year players participating, there are only two players older than 23 years old in this year's game. In fact, of the 20 participants, 12 are 21 or younger, with both Jayson Tatum and Frank Ntilikina yet to turn 20.
The NBA can only hold on to treasures like Manu Ginobili, Dirk Nowitzki and Vince Carter for so long. So teams are tasked with finding who's next. As basketball fans and analyst, we feel the same way, creating our own opinions -- both good and bad -- on these young, relatively unproven players.
We're human and we like hot takes, so often it's one extreme or the other in fans' eyes: either a player's "garbage" or he's the next coming of Michael Jordan.
But numbers don't lie. For that reason, we're here to use our models to create objective, rather than subjective, profiles of each of this year's Rising Stars. For each and every one of the 20 players representing the USA and the World, our system has produced the top five comparable player seasons in NBA history. Each season comes with a percentage match based on various statistics and data points.
We might not be able to project a player's future greatness or lack thereof, but these comparisons allow us to see what kind of season each youngster's having as well as what other notable players have had similar seasons. Based on that, we'll group the players into 10 tiers. Trust the process, if you will...