As we said more than a month ago, this year’s Rising Stars challenge will feature a draft from a pool of rookies and sophomores. And just like I predicted, Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley are the GMs who will be picking the two teams. The pool of draft eligible players was released today, which means we finally have a chance to break down the most likely scenarios for the upcoming draft.
We’ll assume Barkley gets the first pick because he’s been on “Inside the NBA” longer and that the draft will proceed in a serpentine fashion.
- Barkley — Blake Griffin: Not only is Griffin the best player available, he’s also one of the guys that Charles has definitely heard of.
- Shaq — Ricky Rubio: The most fun name to say, for sure, so a definite O’Neal target.
- Shaq — DeMarcus Cousins: Shaq has a soft spot for big guys who look kind of chubby.
- Barkley — John Wall: Another guy who Charles Barkley probably knows.
- Barkley — Greg Monroe: He’s tall, so OK.
- Shaq — Gordon Hayward: A versatile scorer who Shaq thinks would look funny when he makes them dance.
- Shaq — Kyrie Irving: Doesn’t fill a need for Team Shaq, but it will allow the GM to wiggle his eyebrows like he found an uncovered gem.
- Barkley — Landry Fields: He starts for the Knicks, so he must be good, right?
- Barkley — Evan Turner: “No seriously Kenny, he’s been better this year.”
- Shaq — Kemba Walker: Shaq remembers he won a National Championship in college, so takes him because “I only care about winning.”
- Shaq — Derrick Williams: Just so he can yell “RUBIOOOOO!” again.
- Barkley — Brandon Knight: Charles doesn’t know much about him, but it says PG next to his name so whatever.
- Barkley — Paul George: Big-time slip for the Pacers wingman, mostly because the two GMs accidentally skipped over his name
- Shaq — Kawhi Leonard: The steal of the draft, and another prime eyebrow-wiggling moment for The Big Picker.
- Shaq — Tristan Thompson: Once again, rather than analyzing the pick, Shaq just wiggles his eyebrows.
- Barkley — MarShon Brooks: “Whoever that guy is.”
- Barkley — Markieff Morris: Charles calls him “Markeith” but everyone knows who he’s talking about and kind of expected it, really.
- Shaq — Tiago Splitter: He’s the non-famous foreign player, so this is destiny.
I’m not saying this is how the draft is going to shake out, but this is what the insiders are telling me. Stay tuned to this space for important updates as information changes.