A four-team-tournament format, plus a mid-tournament shooting challenge, adds a new spark to Clorox Rising Stars this season. Which team do you think will win the mini-tournament in Cleveland on Friday night (9 ET, TNT)?
Game 1: Team Worthy vs. Team Isiah
Game 2: Team Payton vs. Team Barry
Game 3: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner
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Steve Aschburner: Team Barry. This one is easy for me. Not only are Evan Mobley, Cade Cunningham and Franz Wagner — the Nos. 1, 4 and 5 rung-holders in the most recent Kia Rookie Ladder — gathered on the same squad … not only does their team have strong role players such as Jae’Sean Tate, Alperen Sengun and Isaac Okoro … not only are Mobley and Okoro members of the Cavaliers who’ll be looking to show out in their NBA hometown … but this bunch is coached by Hall of Famer Rick Barry, one of the most competitive cusses in league history. Barry would elbow you in the chops if you placed a $2 bet on which of you would walk more quickly to the next corner. So yeah, Team Barry.
Mark Medina: I’m taking Team Isiah. The squad has too many competitors eager to put on a show. Desmond Bane exemplifies the Memphis Grizzlies’ gritty and aggressive style. Tyrese Halburton will play with an edge after the Sacramento Kings surprisingly traded away what could have been their franchise centerpiece. Anthony Edwards will put on a show with his entertaining dunks.
Shaun Powell: I’ll go with Team Payton, because while the four teams are evenly stocked, this one seems to bring a slight edge. And that’s because of the steady rise of Ayo Dosunmu, who’s been on fire lately for the Bulls. LaMelo Ball is such a gifted passer that he’ll become acclimated quickly with his teammates and find Scottie Barnes and others for easy buckets, with Davion Mitchell handling the defensive chores well enough to satisfy his coach, “The Glove”.
John Schuhmann: I’ll pick Team Worthy because I could never pick against Herb Jones, who might actually play some defense.
Michael C. Wright: A four-team-tournament format, plus a mid-tournament shooting challenge, adds a new spark to Clorox Rising Stars this season. Which team do you think will win the mini-tournament in Cleveland on Friday night?
Team Worthy is nice, and it would be fun to watch a team headlined by guys like Josh Giddey and Jalen Green. But for this format, give me Team Isiah with Anthony Edwards, Desmond Bane, and Tyrese Haliburton. Their athleticism is off the charts and with Precious Achiuwa, Team Isiah can small-ball you to death. Plus, I like the Detroit connection with Pistons Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey, along with G League Ignite’s Jaden Hardy, a native of the city.