The Rising Stars Challenge tips off tonight at 9 PM E.T. and Washington Wizards rising rookie Rui Hachimura is in play to snag the game’s MVP.
Wherever Washington Wizards fans stand on this weekend’s all-star festivities, from thinking it’s nothing more than a popularity contest to voting every day and watching every second, we can all agree that it’s an excellent opportunity for young players to step onto the larger stage and showcase their skills.
And now, just like John Wall and Bradley Beal before him, Rui Hachimura has a chance to solidify his spot in the NBA. Putting on a show in front of millions of fans who would never bother to watch a Washington Wizards game will go far in representing our team and his own personal brand of basketball.
Action Network currently has Rui sitting at a lowly 11th in the field at odds of winning the award, but I’m less skeptical and I’ll explain why in a bit.
Here are the last 10 winners of the prestigious award:
- Kyle Kuzma (2019)
- Bogdan Bogdanović (2018)
- Jamal Murray (2017)
- Zach LaVine (2016)
- Andrew Wiggins (2015)
- Andre Drummond (2014)
- Kenneth Faried (2013)
- Kyrie Irving (2012)
- John Wall (2011)
- Tyreke Evans (2010)
That’s a really solid group of names to put yourself with, even while some like Tyreke, Faried, and thus far Bogdanović are somewhat fringe players. Outside of that, you have multiple all-stars and guys that are among the best at their position in the NBA.
I’ve heard Rui compared to LaMarcus Aldridge recently and I love the comparison. A solid mid-range game and the ability to step out beyond the arc, which he’s still working on and I expect to be on full display in tonight’s game.
Does anybody remember Jared Sullinger popping into the rookie game and getting up 9 three’s in just 20 minutes? Yeah, I hope it’s not like that but I do hope he takes 2 or 3 tonight.
So where does Rui Hachimura stand in his odds to win the award in this year’s field in my eyes? It’s an interesting question, so what follows is a ranking of my candidates for the MVP in tonight’s Rising Stars Challenge, from least likely to most likely.