Josh Cohen’s Analysis: WHY TEAM SHAQ WILL WIN: Reason #1 – These exhibition, fan-friendly, low-pressure games are generally guard dominated. It’s infrequent for teams to care about defense and these contests generally are all about who can speed up and down the floor faster than their opponent. With a slew of dynamic and electrifying guards like Damian Lillard and Kyrie Irving and just two interior-oriented players including Andrew Nicholson, TEAM SHAQ expects to excel in transition and connect on most of their open 3-point attempts.
WHY TEAM CHUCK WILL WIN: Reason #1 – This is the perfect game for Anthony Davis, the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft and arguably the most menacing player in this game. Davis’ stat line in a freestyle contest will likely be around 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks. Especially because TEAM SHAQ has nobody to stop him in the paint, Davis could go on a rampage and single-handedly propel TEAM CHUCK.
WHY TEAM SHAQ WILL WIN: Reason #2: On TEAM SHAQ is a pair of Warriors (Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson) and Bobcats (Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) and a trio of Cavaliers (Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tyler Zeller). This suggests that O’Neal’s squad should possess outstanding chemistry since many of them are already familiar with each other on the court.
WHY TEAM CHUCK WILL WIN: Reason #2: Barkley’s team in last year’s Rising Stars Challenge destroyed O’Neal’s. Perhaps it’s a sign that Chuck has more gifted GM skills and understands how to assemble a more effective roster than Shaq.
WHY TEAM SHAQ WILL WIN: Reason #3: While Anthony Davis is the most intimidating player in this game, Kyrie Irving is the most established. Last season’s Rookie of the Year also earned a spot in Sunday’s All-Star Game. As a result, if Irving is truly deserving of playing in the “Varsity” game, then he should demolish the competition in the “JV” game.
WHY TEAM CHUCK WILL WIN: Reason #3 - The head coach for Barkley’s team is Spurs assistant Mike Budenhoizer. With the way San Antonio has been playing lately – winning without Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and most recently Tony Parker, it’s hard to envision any Spur-related coached team lose a game regardless of how the rosters stack up.
WHY TEAM SHAQ WILL WIN: Reason #4 – It’s a home game essentially for Chandler Parsons, who is having a sensational season for the Rockets. The crowd will be chanting his name and cheering for him all game, which may inspire him to deliver an MVP caliber performance.
WHY TEAM CHUCK WILL WIN: Reason #4 – While Parsons represents TEAM SHAQ and the Rockets, Barkley played for Houston from 1996-2000. As a result, perhaps those fond memories from the fans will compel them to root for his team.