Rookie Pair Impressive in Rising Stars Challenge

By Josh Cohen
Feb. 14, 2014

NEW ORLEANS – It was only fitting that two of the more impressive rookies from Friday’s BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge were Philadelphia’s Michael Carter-Williams and Orlando’s Victor Oladipo. They are the existing frontrunners for the Rookie of the Year Award, budding rivals and each put on a rather spectacular show for the fans at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.

Sure, defensive commitment is scarce in exhibition contests like this and statistics are rather insignificant but there is something to be learned when you look at a box score regardless of the game’s purpose and meaning.

Carter-Williams registered 17 points, nine assists and six rebounds in 24 minutes, while Oladipo tallied 13 points and four assists in 20 minutes. Both started for Team Webber, which lost 142-136 to Team Hill. And aside from the numbers, the two looked comfortable playing together. They took part in several successful fast break opportunities, which led to some thunderous jams and other crafty plays at the rim.

Though you would assume each would have a grudge against one another – MCW beat Victor in the NCAA tournament last season before Oladipo was selected nine slots higher than Carter-Williams in the draft – the two are actually very close and have tremendous respect for one another.

"It was fun playing with him," Oladipo said. "He's a great player and the sky is the limit for him."

Both the Sixers and Magic are in rebuild phases and are focused on developing their youth and preparing for this June’s NBA Draft. And though neither are playoff contenders this season, that hasn’t in any way impacted the outlook of both franchises.

League executives, scouts and media all share similar opinions about Orlando and Philadelphia and that is that both have bright futures, largely because of the potential of Oladipo and Carter-Williams.

The two rookie sensations weren’t the only ones displaying their skills, however. Detroit’s Andre Drummond (30 points, 25 rebounds and named MVP) and New Orleans’ Anthony Davis (16 points, eight rebounds) were splendid in the paint and New York’s Tim Hardaway Jr. (36 points) and Cleveland’s Dion Waiters (31 points) participated in a showdown that mirrored what Kyrie Irving and Brandon Knight exhibited in last year’s Rising Stars Challenge by exchanging 3-pointer after 3-pointer in the late stages of the game.