NBA All-Star Weekend 2018: Ranking every player in the Rising Stars Challenge

In lieu of this week’s rookie rankings, we’ve decided to change things up a little bit in honor of NBA All-Star Weekend. With the Rising Stars game tipping off at 9 p.m. ET on Friday, we thought it only fitting to rank the players in the game.

First things first, the players are ranked on how good they are right now — this isn’t a list about who has the most potential. Second, Lonzo Ball and Malcolm Brogdon aren’t ranked because they won’t be playing in the game.

As you can see, this year’s Rising Stars game is loaded with talent, so it should be a good one. Here are the player rankings.

Ranking every player in the Rising Stars game

1

NBA All-Star Weekend 2018: Ranking every player in the Rising Stars Challenge

Joel Embiid

Philadelphia 76ers C

2017-18 stats: 23.7 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists

Pretty easy one here, since Embiid is the only player in the game who’s also an All-Star (and a starter, at that). His ceiling is also higher than any other player in the Rising Stars game, provided that he can stay healthy, so he easily claims the top spot.

2

NBA All-Star Weekend 2018: Ranking every player in the Rising Stars Challenge

Donovan Mitchell

Utah Jazz SG

2017-18 stats: 19.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists

It’s certainly close between Mitchell and Ben Simmons, but what Mitchell has shown us over the last few weeks has been truly extraordinary. Forget projecting him into the future, he’s already proven that he can carry a potential playoff team offensively — something rookies and second-year players can’t often do.

3

NBA All-Star Weekend 2018: Ranking every player in the Rising Stars Challenge

Ben Simmons

Philadelphia 76ers PG

2017-18 stats: 16.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 7.3 assists

It really comes down to this between Simmons and Mitchell: It’s really hard to name something obvious that Mitchell CAN’T do on the court, whereas Simmons’ flaw is glaring. The 6-foot-10 point guard has been great this season and is a borderline All-Star, but the fact that he can’t shoot — like, at all — takes him down a notch.

4

NBA All-Star Weekend 2018: Ranking every player in the Rising Stars Challenge

Jayson Tatum

Boston Celtics SF

2017-18 stats: 13.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists

Despite some recent shooting struggles, Tatum has been consistent all year on both sides of the ball for the Celtics, who have been the top team in the Eastern Conference for most of the season. He’s the fourth-best player in the Rising Stars game right now, and the 19-year-old has plenty of potential still to be unfurled.

5

NBA All-Star Weekend 2018: Ranking every player in the Rising Stars Challenge

Jamal Murray

Denver Nuggets PG

2017-18 stats: 16.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists

Murray has really come into his own over the past few months, and is proving to be an explosive scorer capable of dropping 30 on any given night. He needs to work on his consistency and defense, but the Nuggets are a tremendous offensive team when he’s got it going.

6

NBA All-Star Weekend 2018: Ranking every player in the Rising Stars Challenge

Jaylen Brown

Boston Celtics SG

2017-18 stats: 14.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists

Brown certainly isn’t a perfect player, but he has fit into the Celtics system with an increased offensive role due to Gordon Hayward’s absence. His near-40 percent 3-point shooting has been a pleasant surprise.

7

NBA All-Star Weekend 2018: Ranking every player in the Rising Stars Challenge

Brandon Ingram

Los Angeles Lakers SF

2017-18 stats: 16.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists

The jury’s still out on what kind of player Ingram will become, but right now he’s a pretty good scorer who you can plug into most starting lineups in the NBA. He’s played well when running the point with Lonzo Ball out, which has showcased a playmaking ability we hadn’t consistently seen before.

8

NBA All-Star Weekend 2018: Ranking every player in the Rising Stars Challenge

Dario Saric

Philadelphia 76ers PF

2017-18 stats: 14.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists

Often an overlooked member of The Process, Saric has been great for the Sixers this season. He’s averaged almost 15 points per game while shooting nearly 40 percent 3-pointers and pulling down seven rebounds per game. You know what you’re getting from Saric on a nightly basis, which is important for a young team.

9

NBA All-Star Weekend 2018: Ranking every player in the Rising Stars Challenge

Kyle Kuzma

Los Angeles Lakers PF

2017-18 stats: 15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists

Kuzma still lacks development in other areas, but he’s proven that at the very least he’s a heat-check scorer off the bench. As he starts to implement more playmaking on offense and hopefully starts to play better defense, his ceiling could keep rising.

10

NBA All-Star Weekend 2018: Ranking every player in the Rising Stars Challenge

Dennis Smith Jr.

Dallas Mavericks PG

2017-18 stats: 14.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists

He’s incredibly inefficient and he frustrates Rick Carlisle to no end on some nights, but there’s no denying Smith’s game-changing ability. He needs to work on shot selection and limiting turnovers, but the potential is definitely there to be the Mavericks’ franchise point guard for years to come.

11

NBA All-Star Weekend 2018: Ranking every player in the Rising Stars Challenge

Lauri Markkanen

Chicago Bulls PF

2017-18 stats: 15.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists

Markkanen’s quick development has been a great surprise for the Baby Bulls. He’s done what everyone thought he could do — shoot — but his offensive versatility and rebounding are already ahead of schedule.

12

NBA All-Star Weekend 2018: Ranking every player in the Rising Stars Challenge

De’Aaron Fox

Sacramento Kings PG

2017-18 stats: 11.3 points, 2.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists

Fox has seen an uptick in production since the Kings traded away George Hill — a clear sign that the team now belongs to the young point guard. His shooting has been terrible, but his quickness and ability to get to the rim could one day approach elite levels.

13

NBA All-Star Weekend 2018: Ranking every player in the Rising Stars Challenge

Kris Dunn

Chicago Bulls PG

2017-18 stats: 13.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 6.3 assists

Dunn has come into his own with increased playing time and responsibility for a young Chicago team. He’s still not shooting the ball well, but he’s proven that he can do other things on the court that make his team better.

14

NBA All-Star Weekend 2018: Ranking every player in the Rising Stars Challenge

Bogdan Bogdanovic

Sacramento Kings SG

2017-18 stats: 11.5 points, 2.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists

Bogdanovic has come on since becoming a starter in Sacramento. He’s already proving to be a good shooter (46 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3), but also has playmaking ability that has started to come out more recently. At 25 years old, his potential for improvement isn’t quite as high as some of the other guys on this list, but he’s already a good player.

15

NBA All-Star Weekend 2018: Ranking every player in the Rising Stars Challenge

Domantas Sabonis

Indiana Pacers C

2017-18 stats: 12.1 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists

After shooting two 3-pointers per game last season with the Thunder, Sabonis has taken his game inside the arc and appears to much more comfortable. He’s a talented low-post scorer and rebounder, but his value would skyrocket if he were able to extend his range out beyond the 3-point line.

16

NBA All-Star Weekend 2018: Ranking every player in the Rising Stars Challenge

Buddy Hield

Sacramento Kings SG

2017-18 stats: 12.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists

Hield has been asked to be a bench scorer for the Kings for most of the season, and he’s been pretty good. He’s making over two 3-pointers per game and shooting 43 percent, which borders on elite. There are still questions about the rest of his game, but it appears at the very least he’s going to be in the league a long time because of his shooting ability.

17

NBA All-Star Weekend 2018: Ranking every player in the Rising Stars Challenge

John Collins

Atlanta Hawks PF

2017-18 stats: 10.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists

Collins is a stat machine when he’s in the game, an incredibly active rebounder who can finish around the rim (evidenced by his 58 percent field-goal shooting). He’s beginning to stretch his range out to the 3-point line, which adds intrigue to his offensive game. He’s a solid shot-blocker, but he still struggles defensively.

18

NBA All-Star Weekend 2018: Ranking every player in the Rising Stars Challenge

Taurean Waller-Prince

Atlanta Hawks SF

2017-18 stats: 12.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists

Prince showed some offensive flashes last season, but hasn’t really taken the step forward this season that the Hawks were hoping that he would. His per-36 minute numbers are nearly identical to last season, although he is shooting 3-pointers better at 37 percent.

19

NBA All-Star Weekend 2018: Ranking every player in the Rising Stars Challenge

Dillon Brooks

Memphis Grizzlies SF

2017-18 stats: 9.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists

Brooks was a dominant scorer in college and has been solid for a struggling Grizzlies team, shooting 45 percent from the field and 37 percent on 3-pointers. The potential may not be as high as other players, but Brooks would be a consistent rotation player for most teams in the league.

20

NBA All-Star Weekend 2018: Ranking every player in the Rising Stars Challenge

Frank Ntilikina

New York Knicks PG

2017-18 stats: 5.2 points, 2.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists

It’s still very early to judge Ntilikina as a player, but he’s shown flashes of being a solid playmaker with strong defensive potential. His shooting has been atrocious, so it’s tough to rank him highly on this list.