The 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend will begin at Staples Center in Los Angeles today with the always entertaining Rising Stars Challenge. For the fourth year in a row, the league will use a Team USA vs. Team World format (9 p.m. ET Friday on TNT).
Many of the league’s top first and second-year players will be featured in this game, which includes players from a total of 10 countries. Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum and Brandon Ingram are the big names from the US side, while Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Jamal Murray will star for Team World.
The two squads have very diverse 10-man rosters that should present many challenges for each other. How will the youngsters from both teams fare in this game? Let’s preview some of the burning questions for the game. We will then make our All-Star Rising Stars Challenge predictions and betting picks with an eye on the best odds available from the sports betting websites.
Can Team World Slow Down the Game’s Pace?
The strengths of these teams are very different. Team World has the size advantage with Joel Embiid, Domantas Sabonis, Dario Saric, Lauri Markkanen and Ben Simmons all standing at least 6’10” in height. Meanwhile, only the 6’10” John Collins reaches that measurement for Team USA.
The team from the States does have far superior athleticism and speed, however. It’s easy to picture Kris Dunn, Donovan Mitchell, Collins, Dennis Smith Jr., Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, De’Aaron Fox and Brandon Ingram putting on a fast-break dunking exhibition against Team World’s slower, bigger players.
Usually, the atmosphere of this game lends itself to both teams pushing the pace. However, Team World needs to realize that it will be in trouble if it tries to make the game a track meet.
Will Enough of Team World’s Perimeter Defenders Step Up On That End?
The Rising Stars Challenge, like the All-Star Game, has become less about defense and more about showing off on offense with flashy plays. That said, some players still care about the defensive end and give effort there.
If the faster players on Team World don’t care about getting back in transition or contesting jump shots, Team USA will have a field day on offense.
However, the Americans will not be nearly as effective if they have to run offense in a half-court setting where the defenders on the ball are actually getting in correct positions and forcing contested shots.
Will Any of Team USA’s Shooters Get Hot?
Besides size, Team World also has the major three-point shooting advantage. Jamal Murray, Lauri Markkanen, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield are all legitimate threats to drain something like eight threes in this game. Murray actually drained nine in his MVP performance last year.
Team USA has a few good three-point shooters, but they mostly don’t shoot them at the volume of the snipers from Team World. Last year, Frank Kaminsky rose to the occasion for Team USA with nine three-pointers, helping to keep the game competitive.
One of Donovan Mitchell, Kyle Kuzma, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum needs to go off in this game. Team USA can’t match Team World two points for three points on a consistent basis.
Our Preview’s Team USA vs. Team World Betting Picks & Predictions
Team World has the better roster here overall, but the needle will move toward the USA side if Team World lets the pace get uncontrollably fast. That is a danger with these sort of exhibition games.
With their deadeye three-point shooting and superior inside game, though, I believe Team World will score enough to force the Americans to throw the ball in from out of bounds and have trouble scoring consistently in transition.
- 5Dimes is the only top sportsbook that has odds listed for this game so far. Feel good about placing your bet on the Team World +3.5 @ -120 with 5Dimes.
- The point totals for this game in the past three years have been 233, 311 and 291. There’s obviously a wide range for what could happen, but the posted line of 296.5 still seems a bit high. Team World won’t let the pace get out of control. Put your money on this game going under 296.5 @ -120 with 5Dimes.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.