NBA All-Star Rising Stars Challenge Pick: World vs. USA

Jordan Sharp

Friday, February 16, 2018 4:35 PM UTC

Friday, Feb. 16, 2018 4:35 PM UTC

The Rising Stars Challenge is always an All-Star Game-lite when it comes to defense, but with the NBA odds favoring the USA Team at only -2 vs. the World, there is some fantastic value for this exhibition game Friday in L.A. 


Defense is a fundamental of basketball, but on All-Star Weekend, defense is a forgotten commodity. Just look at Team Shaq vs. Team Chuck from a few years ago in the Rising Stars Challenge. Defense is going to be completely optional tonight when Team USA faces the World.

When it comes to teaching basketball fundamentals when kids are younger, international clubs and teams have been doing a much better job of that over the last few years. It’s a tired narrative, but it's completely true: American AAU basketball has made a disgrace out of the teaching of basketball in the United States.

All American kids know how to do when they get to college nowadays is play on offense, and it’s mostly just one-on-one and maybe pick-and-roll. The teaching of defense, rebounding, free-throw shooting, passing and general offensive scheming is nowhere near up to par with the rest of the world.

It’s starting to show with rookies, too. Outside of the lottery (and even some years in the lottery), guys are 2-4 year projects when they are American. On the other side, international talent has done a lot better of closing the gap between their leagues and the NBA, which has led to international players developing more quickly.

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World Domination

Outside of Donovan Mitchell for the USA Team, the World Team is top to bottom more talented. The World's starting five is going to be better shooting and on defense, and with all the young Sixers playing for the World this game is not going to be close.

On top of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons running up the score, the World has a talented mix of guys like Bogdan Bogdanovic, Jamal Murray and Lauri Markkanen, whereas two of the USA’s best guards, Lonzo Ball and Malcolm Brogdon, are injured and not playing.

Outside of Jazz rookie Mitchell, the USA may not have a dominant player on offense, and it’s going to be too easy for the World to close them out by playing just a little defense. However, even if that doesn’t happen the offensive skill gap between the USA and World is still too much for this team to overcome.

As long as the World team doesn’t limit the minutes of some of its best players, I like the World on the moneyline and taking the +2. In the last three years in the new-look USA vs. World format, the World has won two of the three and should win this one by 5-10 points.

Free NBA Pick: World +2Best Line Offered: Bovada
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