Shved, Rubio Dazzle In Rising Stars Challenge

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Team Chuck teammate Anthony Davis came into Friday night’s Rising Stars Challenge knowing what Ricky Rubio can do on the court—that’s well documented. The sophomore guard has dazzled with his passing ability and his feel for the sport since his very first game last year.

But Davis wasn’t prepared for what guard Alexey Shved did at Friday’s BBVA Rising Stars Challenge. The Wolves rookie, also Davis’ fellow Team Chuck teammate, is a little more dynamic than he anticipated.

“I didn’t know he had that, reverse dunks—going down the lane dunking,” Davis said. “I didn’t know he had that at all. That was never in our scouting reports that he can go upstairs. He definitely showed off his skills tonight.”

Shved entered Team Chuck’s 163-135 victory over Team Shaq at Toyota Center known primarily for being a spot-up shooter who is willing to take the tough 3-point shot when necessary—and rightfully so given his sweet shooting stroke. But he’ll leave Houston having proved he can do much more than that.

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Chuck vs. Shaq

Shved had a pair of first half dunks that wowed the Toyota Center crowd, the latter being a reverse alley-oop from Isaiah Thomas that put his athleticism on display.

“When he started jumping out there all the teammates were like, ‘He can do that?’” Rubio said. “He can do more than that.”

And from an efficiency standpoint, the rookie did everything Team Chuck could have asked for. He finished 5-of-8 with 12 points on the night, including a pair of 3-pointers and four assists. An undrafted rookie, Shved backed up his strong first half of the season with his play on the national stage against the top rookies and sophomores in the league Friday night.

He was the perfect complement to Rubio, who once again made his mark on the Rising Stars Challenge with his ability to thread passes and make plays. A year ago, he memorably dribbled through DeMarcus Cousins’ legs before finding Blake Griffin for an alley-oop. This year, Rubio began his night with an alley-oop to Kenneth Faried—who expressed Friday morning his intrigue of what it would be like to catch a Rubi-oop—and never looked back.

Rubio finished with a game-high 10 assists to go along with five points on the night. He shot 2-of-4 from the field, including 1-of-3 from 3-point land.

“It was fun,” Shved said, joking everyone plays strong defense. “But it was nice, and when we played Ricky on the same team it was definitely fun.”

That was a highlight for Rubio, too. Last year, he played against Derrick Williams in the event. This time around, he was able to experience it with a teammate.

“It was great,” Rubio said. “He was enjoying the All-Star and we were having fun out there.”

All-Star Weekends are built for Rubio’s game. In any matchup, when Rubio gets day light to survey the court he so dangerous because of his keen ability to find the open man. When you back off, he’ll make you pay. And space is what Rubio got on Friday night.

Team Shaq center Tyler Zeller said the Rising Stars Challenge was tailor made for his abilities.

“He’s difficult to guard any time you’re playing him,” Zeller said. “You give him that much space, it’s tough, but at the same time that’s how the game goes. You just have to deal with it.”

Meanwhile, Team Chuck jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. They led by 20 for much of the night, thanks in large part to shooting 53.1 percent from 3-point range (17-of-32) and 63.9 percent overall.

Faried was unstoppable. The Nuggets’ power forward has made a name for himself since college for his fierce rebounding, and on Friday he was vicious around the basket. He collected game MVP honors thanks to a 40-point effort—tied with Russell Westbrook for most in rookie-sophomore game history behind Kevin Durant’s 46 in 2009—and shot 18-for-22 from the floor. Faried put together enough high-percentage shots at the rim to warrant that 82 percent shooting percentage. He also snagged 10 rebounds—seven on the offensive end.

But he wasn’t alone. Every player on Team Chuck scored in double figures except for Rubio. Kawhi Leonard and Tristan Thompson each finished with 20 points, second on the team to Faried’s performance.

For Team Shaq, 2012 Rising Stars MVP Kyrie Irving led the way with 32 points. Fellow Cavs teammate Dion Waiters had 23, Damian Lillard had 18 and Rockets hometown representative Chandler Parson had 13.

But the Wolves couldn’t have been happier with the performance their two Rising Stars put forth on Friday in Houston. And they left their mark as a duo that has a bright future in this league.

“For Minnesota, most definitely,” Davis said.

Zeller agreed.

“They’re phenomenal players,” he said. “Rubio facilitates very, very well and Shved shoots the ball incredibly well.”

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