Top Five Rising Stars in the NBA
This past All-Star weekend, the NBA featured a game between the young stars of the NBA; the Mountain Dew Kickstart Rising Stars. Many well-known, young players were a rising star, such as Ben Simmons and Jayson Tatum, but lesser known players were also featured, like Domantas Sabonis on the Pacers and Taurean Prince for the Hawks. The rising stars were on two teams, Team USA and Team World, and played a game chock-full of slam dunks, and long-range threes.
Now that a bit of time has passed since then, free agents have moved, and trades have been made, here are the top five rising stars that will succeed greatly in the upcoming season.
Number 5: Brandon Ingram
Man, this pick was tough. Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma will both improve greatly under the eye of the new Laker, LeBron James, but I feel that this is Ingram’s year to become the breakout star Lakers fans have been waiting for him to be since he was drafted in 2016.
Ingram is a menace in the paint, but his jumper left a lot to be desired last season. Brandon Ingram was dependent on his inside scoring last season, so I expect Ingram to work on his outside shot in the off-season along with bulking up a little bit (he’s been pretty skinny ever since he was a rookie). With a better jump shot, Ingram could be the second coming of Kevin Durant.
Number 4: Jayson Tatum
Jayson Tatum was a monster in the playoffs last season, but I feel that he’ll get less time with the ball next season, with the return of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. With that being said, Tatum is so good he’s been compared to Hall-of-Famer Kobe Bryant many times, and with a similar playing style to Bryant, he’s been on a tear both in and out of the paint. Kobe Bryant has even trained in the gym with Tatum, showing his confidence in Tatum next season.
Since Tatum’s game has been so excellent, all he needs to do is to become more experienced in playing in the NBA. Once he is a seasoned veteran, all the teams in the NBA better look out for the Celtics.
Number 3: Donovan Mitchell
In the playoffs last year, Donovan Mitchell was an absolutely dynamic scorer. In Game 6 of the series with Oklahoma City, in which the Jazz won 4-2, Mitchell scored 38 points, becoming only the third rookie to score multiple 30 point playoff games in a playoff series (joining the class of Alonzo Mourning and the one and only Michael Jordan). Even with his spectacular performance in the playoffs, there will be people who question why he is higher than Jayson Tatum on this list.
The reason is Mitchell had a way bigger impact on the Jazz’s playoff run last season than Tatum had on the Celtic’s playoff run. Tatum was crucial to the Celtics, but Mitchell was the lifeline of the Jazz, especially when Ricky Rubio got injured, and Mitchell adapted and played the missing point guard spot (and played it very well). Donovan Mitchell is a more valuable rising star than Tatum or Ingram to their respective teams, and that’s why he’s placed at number 3.
Number 2: Ben Simmons
Many have compared Ben Simmons to the next incarnation of LeBron James, and I cannot argue it’s validity. Ben Simmons is still really young, but he has shown he can be a monster when attacking the rim, and a truly beautiful passer. However, in order to get better and truly become the force that LeBron James is, he needs a jump shot. Currently, Simmons is very reluctant to shooting from the perimeter, and for good reason; he has no J.
With the tools he has currently, Simmons is a special point guard that has some of the best passing talents and eyes for the open man I’ve seen in some time. If Simmons ever develops a usable jump shot, the comparisons to L.A.’s #23 might become a reality.
Number 1: Joel Embiid
Including Joel Embiid in the Rising Stars game was just unfair….he’s too good. He was the only rising star that was also in the All-Star game that same weekend, and for good reason. He is miles above anyone in his draft class, and he is in contention of being the best center in the NBA currently.
While having the qualities of a center – rebounding, rim protecting, and close-range rim attacking – he also has a good jumpshot, which he can use from outside three point range. In fact, Embiid has proven to be one of the best shooters on the Philadelphia starting roster. Whoever put Joel Embiid in the Kickstart Rising Stars game was crazy, because he is on a different level than anyone else in that game. In fact, you could argue that he’s not a rising star anymore, he’s a flat-out star.
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