A pair of international rookies made a splash at the NBA’s All-Star Weekend in Toronto, back in mid-February.
New York Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis and Denver Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay demonstrated why basketball has quickly become one of the fastest growing sports in the world.
A native of Latvia, Porzingis was selected fourth overall by New York at the 2015 NBA Draft, shocking the Knicks loyal fans in attendance at Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center, who expected their team to go with a more familiar name.
Porzingis has proven to be one of the bright spots on a Knicks squad that looks destined to once again miss the NBA Playoffs, and is a distant 300/1 longshot to claim their first NBA title since 1973, according to sportsbooks available through Betway.com.
Standing 7′ 3″, the 20 year-old center has averaged 13.9 points per game so far this season, but showed glimpses of what the future may hold, draining 30 points at the Rising Stars Challenge in Toronto, equaling Mudiay’s point production in a losing effort, as Team World fell 157-154 to Team USA.
Mudiay has taken the long route to the NBA.
Born in Kinshasa, Zaire, Mudiay played his high school ball in Texas, and after committing to play his college ball with the SMU Mustangs, had a change of heart, instead kicking off his pro career in China last season.
The 19 year-old struggled with injury in China, however his tough year did nothing to dampen his draft value, with the Denver Nuggets selecting him seventh overall.
Mudiay has had an immediate impact on the perennial losers in Denver, contributing 11.5 points per game despite missing 14 games to an ankle injury, cracking double digits in 12 of his first 15 games back.
It has been those types of performances that have made the Nuggets the darlings of sportsbooks available, find the betting odds here at Betway.
With this year’s All-Star Festivities in the record books, attention has turned to college basketball, with teams preparing for March Madness, led by the next generation of stars, some of whom will be on the floor at the 2017 All-Star Weekend in Charlotte.
LSU star Ben Simmons is widely expected to be selected first overall in the NBA Draft coming up in June.
The 19 year-old native of Melbourne, Australia leads the Tigers with 19.4 ppg, and is tops in the SEC with an incredible 11.9 rebounds per game.
However, Simmons heroics have not been enough to ensure the Tigers a position on the March Madness bracket. Entering the final week of February, LSU sits just one game back of Kentucky in the SEC standings, and is pegged at a distant No. 87 on the RPI rankings, making the NIT a more likely post-season destination for the squad.
Conversely, Brendan Ingram looks destined for an appearance at the Big Dance as a member of the defending champion Duke Blue Devils.
An 18 year-old small forward, who hails from Kinston, North Carolina, has been a difference-maker in his freshman year at Duke, averaging 17 points per game, including a standout performance in the squad’s 74-73 win over North Carolina during Rivalry Week, shocking the Tar Heels as 8.5-point underdogs and contributing to Duke’s steady climb up the March Madness betting odds, where they end the month at an attractive 16/1.