One of the most exciting weekends of the NBA regular season has arrived, with the league’s top players meeting in Chicago for All-Star weekend. The festivities start Friday night, when the young stars will showcase their talents in the Rising Stars game.
New Orleans Pelicans phenom Zion Williamson is primed to throw down some crazy dunks, and Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant will likely dazzle the fans with his quickness and athleticism.
The U.S. team will play the World team in the Rising Stars game at 9 p.m. EST.
With Williamson, Morant, Luka Doncic and Trae Young headlining the game, here are five potential candidates to win the Rising Stars game’s MVP award.
Williamson has only played 10 games before the All-Star break, but he has already wowed fans and the league with his talents.
He’s scoring 22.1 points per game and playing 27.4 minutes per game, while shooting 57.6% from the field. According to BetOnline, Williamson has the best odds to win the game’s MVP award, with Morant in second and Doncic in third.
Williamson is heading into the All-Star posting back-to-back 30-point games. With the Pelicans currently in 11th place in the Western Conference, they’ll have a tough task in trying to move up the ranks into the eighth spot.
But if Williamson continues his stellar play, the Pelicans will have a solid chance at making the playoffs.
Morant has showed his playmaking and scoring abilities, and with him leading the young Grizzlies, he is a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year.
A former AAU teammate of Williamson’s, Morant leads rookies in assists per game (7.1) and is second behind Williamson in points per game (17.6).
As the Grizzlies’ lead guard, Morant leads the team in scoring and assists. The Grizzlies are ranked eighth in the West and are two games above .500 heading into the All-Star break.
With Morant at the helm, they have a good opportunity to exceed outside expectations this season by making the playoffs.
The Rising Stars game is used to highlight the league’s top young talent, and while Doncic is still only 20 years old, he’s already one of the best players in the league.
A league MVP candidate, Doncic has regularly flashed his blend of playmaking and scoring skills. As a budding point forward, Doncic ranks sixth in scoring (28.9) and third in assists (8.7).
Doncic is one of five players to rank in the top 10 of both points per game and assists per game. Young, James Harden, LeBron James and Damian Lillard are the other four players to have that distinction this season.
Doncic has one of the most versatile and complete offensive skill sets in the league, and with his talent, the Dallas Mavericks should be a solid playoff team. The Mavericks are currently ranked seventh in the West.
Gilgeous-Alexander has been scoring buckets steadily all season long, and the Thunder are ranked sixth in the West in part because of his play.
A second-year guard out of Kentucky, Gilgeous-Alexander has had the opportunity to thrive alongside Chris Paul, a future Hall of Famer. Gilgeous-Alexander is scoring a career-high 19.5 points per game, and he’s shooting 35.0% from the 3-point line.
Gilgeous-Alexander is one of the best rebounding guards in the league, as he ranks 11th in rebounds per game among guards (6.1).
Young and Doncic are the only two players in Friday’s game who are also All-Stars, and if Young played on a better team, he might be a regular season MVP candidate as well.
This season Young ranks third in the NBA in scoring (29.7) behind Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo. As one of the most gifted passers in the game, Young ranks second in assists behind James.
Much like Doncic’s, Young’s stardom is only growing. The difference with Young and other young stars, though, is that his team isn’t good.
The Hawks are heading into the All-Star break with a record of 15-41, ranking 14th in the Eastern Conference.