NBA All-Star grades: Breaking down MVP Mathurin, Wemby and other Rising Stars


It’s NBA All-Star Weekend, but not all the stars will shine equally. To highlight the best and worst performances all weekend long in Indianapolis, we’re grading the participants in every event from the Rising Stars on Friday through Sunday’s All-Star Game.

Friday’s star-studded Rising Stars tournament at All-Star Weekend featured the leading two contenders for Rookie of the Year — the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Chet Holmgren and San Antonio Spurs’ Victor Wembanyama — as well as 2023 award winner and first-time All-Star Paolo Banchero.

For the third consecutive year, the NBA’s best rookies and sophomores were split into three teams drafted by honorary coaches, with a team representing the NBA G League filling out the four-team bracket. These teams played to a target score of 40 points in the semifinals and 25 points in the final.

Team Jalen, coached by former NBA player Jalen Rose, ended up beating a team of players from the G League (coached by three-time All-Star Detlef Schrempf) in the final. Those teams had earlier defeated teams coached by Hall of Famers Tamika Catchings and Pau Gasol in the semifinals.

Bennedict Mathurin of weekend host Indiana Pacers was named MVP after scoring 18 points in the semis.

Which of the NBA’s stars of tomorrow showed the most potential with their play? Let’s grade the performance of all 28 players in action.

RISING STARS


Team Jalen

Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City Thunder
Grade: B

Game 1: 5 PTS | 2-4 FG | 3 REB | 1 AST
Final: 2 PTS | 0-0 FG | 2 REB | 1 BLK

Analysis
The top pick for Team Jalen didn’t end up playing the biggest role in his team’s victory. Holmgren had five turnovers in the semifinals, when he matched up with 2022 No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero and scored only at the free throw line in the final. On the plus side, Holmgren twice drove past Banchero on the perimeter, once for a running layup and the other drawing a foul.

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Chet Holmgren answers Paolo Banchero’s dunk with one of his own

Chet Holmgren throws up a two-handed windmill dunk after Paolo Banchero threw it down a possession before.


Jalen Williams, Oklahoma City Thunder
Grade: A-

Game 1: 2 PTS | 1-1 FG | 3 REB | 3 AST
Final: 5 PTS | 2-3 FG | 1-2 3PT | 3 AST

Analysis

Williams capably handled the role of point guard for the aptly named Team Jalen, handing out a game-high three assists in both the semifinals and the final. His only score in the semifinals was the team’s opening basket, starting a comeback from a 10-0 deficit. Williams also capped the night’s scoring with a pull-up 3 to reach — and actually surpass — the target score and win the tournament.


Bennedict Mathurin, Indiana Pacers
Grade: A

Game 1: 18 PTS | 7-13 FG | 2-4 3PT | 2 REB
Final: 4 PTS | 1-3 FG | 2 AST | 1 STL

Analysis
Mathurin redeemed himself for missing what could have been a pair of game-winning free throws by making a pull-up jumper to reach the target score in the tightly contested semifinal win. Of course, Team Jalen was in that position only because of Mathurin’s takeover, which earned him MVP honors.

Mathurin scored nearly half of his team’s points in the semifinals, repeatedly getting to the rim and making a pair of 3-pointers. Mathurin made less noise in the final, where his best play was a nifty flip pass to Kessler for a layup.


Jeremy Sochan, San Antonio Spurs
Grade: C+

Game 1: 0 PTS | 0-0 FG | 2 REB
Final: 0 PTS | 0-2 FG

Analysis
Playing on the perimeter as part of a supersized Team Jalen starting five, Sochan was the team’s only player not to score, missing both of his shot attempts.


Dereck Lively II, Dallas Mavericks
Grade: A

Game 1: 6 PTS | 3-3 FG | 2 REB
Final: 6 PTS | 3-3 FG | 1 AST

Analysis
Lively’s above-the-rim finishing and willingness to run the court were difference-makers for Team Jalen, which rallied from an early deficit soon after he checked into the semifinals. Lively quickly finished an alley-oop and was 6-of-6 from the field overall, all around the rim.


Jordan Hawkins, New Orleans Pelicans
Grade: A

Game 1: 7 PTS | 3-5 FG | 5 REB | 2 AST
Final: 5 PTS | 2-2 FG | 1-1 3PT | 2 AST

Analysis
Arguably the best shooter in this year’s rookie class, Hawkins showcased his skill with a pair of pull-up 3-pointers in transition and finished 5-of-7 during the competition. More impressive, however, was Hawkins’ playmaking. He found teammates Walker Kessler and Dereck Lively II for alley-oop finishes.


Walker Kessler, Utah Jazz
Grade: B

Game 1: 2 PTS | 1-1 FG | 2 REB | 1 AST
Final: 4 PTS | 2-2 FG | 1 REB

Analysis
It was a slow start for Kessler, who was actually called for an illegal screen in the semifinals — maybe the first in All-Star Weekend history. Kessler did have a powerful block in that game and a pair of finishes around the rim in the finals.


Team Detlef

Izan Almansa, G League Ignite
Grade: B+

Game 1: 2 PTS | 1-2 FG | 1 REB | 1 BLK
Final: 0 PTS | 1 MIN

Analysis
The 18-year-old Almansa, No. 24 in ESPN’s draft rankings, saw the least action of any player on Team Detlef. Almansa still found time for a memorable sequence in which he swatted Bilal Coulibaly’s shot, then raced downcourt for a dunk at the other end. Worse was Almansa’s decision to contest Victor Wembanyama in transition, setting up a three-point play.


Matas Buzelis, G League Ignite
Grade: B+

Game 1: 7 PTS | 3-7 FG | 2 REB | 2 AST
Final: 0 PTS | 0-3 FG | 0-1 3PT | 1 STL

Analysis

The highest-rated prospect on G League Ignite at No. 6 in ESPN’s rankings, Buzelis sent Team Detlef to the final by knocking down a difficult turnaround jumper after an extended offensive drought.

He also showcased his shotmaking by hitting a step-back jumper with a high release and a contested 3. That didn’t carry over to the final, where Buzelis missed all three of his shots and dribbled the ball off his foot for a turnover.


Emoni Bates, Cleveland Charge
Grade: B-

Game 1: 5 PTS | 2-6 FG | 2 AST | 1 STL
Final: 2 PTS | 1-3 FG | 2 REB | 1 AST

Analysis
Bates, who’s on a two-way contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, was active throughout. He had an impressive finish in transition in the final and a long rainbow 3 off the dribble in the semifinals, when he also laid the ball off to teammate Oscar Tshiebwe for a dunk. Overall, however, Bates shot just 3-of-9 from the field.


Tyler Smith, G League Ignite
Grade: C+

Game 1: 2 PTS | 1-5 FG | 3 REB | 1 STL
Final: 0 PTS | 0-1 FG | 0-1 3PT

Analysis
Ranked 19th in ESPN’s draft rankings, Smith got his first look at Victor Wembanyama with mixed results. Wembanyama stole the ball from Smith while matched up one-on-one, then Smith later tried a hook shot over him and got predictable results with a wild miss.


Mac McClung, Osceola Magic
Grade: A-

Game 1: 12 PTS | 5-9 FG | 5 REB | 3 AST
Final: 0 PTS | 0-1 3PT | 3 AST

Analysis
It’s amusing that McClung, who will defend his title in Saturday’s dunk contest despite not being signed to an NBA contract (he’s playing for the G League’s Osceola Magic), scored a game-high 12 points in the semifinals without a single dunk. Instead, McClung relied on tough layup finishes. A miss after McClung was sent to the line for a three-shot foul delayed Team Detlef reaching the target score, but it got there in large part thanks to McClung’s energy, which produced three offensive rebounds and three assists. He again had three assists in the final.


Oscar Tshiebwe, Indiana Mad Ants
Grade: A

Game 1: 2 PTS | 1-1 FG | 8 REB
Final: 8 PTS | 4-5 FG | 2 REB | 1 AST

Analysis
Representing the hometown team on a two-way contract with the Pacers, Tshiebwe was in the mix throughout both games. He pulled down a game-high eight boards in the semifinals, including four of them at the offensive end. In the final, Tshiebwe found his footing as a scorer, making a tip-in to open the game, dunking home a pick-and-roll feed and completing a drop step for a layup.

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Oscar Tshiebwe throws down ridiculous poster slam

Oscar Tshiebwe stuns the announcers with an out-of-this-world poster dunk.


Alondes Williams, Sioux Falls Skyforce
Grade: A-

Game 1: 11 PTS | 5-10 FG | 1-6 3PT | 2 AST
Final: 3 PTS | 1-1 3PT | 1 REB | 1 BLK

Analysis
Recently signed to a two-way contract by the Miami Heat, Williams impressed with his all-around play in the semifinals. He went at Victor Wembanyama and came away with an and-1, then made a highlight dunk in transition when he pulled the ball back before finishing. Williams also hit a rainbow 3 over Wembanyama and was credited for a score when he attacked the offensive glass and got Wembanyama to tip the ball into his own basket, and. in the final, Williams had as many turnovers as points (three apiece).


Team Pau

Victor Wembanyama, San Antonio Spurs
Grade: A

Game 1:11 PTS | 5-6 FG | 7 REB | 2 BLK

Analysis

We can quibble with Wembanyama’s five turnovers, some of them the result of careless ball handling, but he still showcased the breadth of his one-of-a-kind skills. Wembanyama made five of his six shot attempts, most of them around the rim. That included a transition dunk in which he waited for the defense to come to him, drawing an and-1 in the process. He threw a lob to Jaime Jaquez Jr. after running pick-and-roll, grabbed a team-high seven rebounds and had a pair of blocks — one of them erasing a Mac McClung shot that could have ended the game.

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Wemby throws down slam off pass from Podziemski

Brandin Podziemski lobs up the pass to Victor Wembanyama, who throws down the two-handed jam.


Brandon Miller, Charlotte Hornets
Grade: C

Game 1: 0 PTS | 0-4 FG | 2 REB | 2 STL

Analysis
The No. 2 overall pick from the 2023 draft has been hot lately, charging up our rookie rankings, but his shooting touch deserted him Friday. Miller missed all four of his shot attempts, including an air ball from 3 in transition that he salvaged by hustling back to steal an outlet pass.


Brandin Podziemski, Golden State Warriors
Grade: B+

Game 1: 3 PTS | 1-3 FG | 4 AST | 2 REB

Analysis
Thrust into the atypical role of point guard on Team Pau, Podziemski recorded a team-high four assists. He set up Victor Wembanyama with a nice entry pass and then had a drop pass to Bilal Coulibaly for a dunk. Podziemski’s only basket was a step-back 3.


Jaime Jaquez Jr., Miami Heat
Grade: A

Game 1: 6 PTS | 3-4 FG | 3 AST | 2 REB

Analysis
Jaquez’s strong rookie campaign carried over into Friday. A pump fake that set up a drive and dunk was the high point of a night that saw Jaquez make three of his four shot attempts and hand out three assists.


Jabari Smith Jr., Houston Rockets
Grade: B-

Game 1: 4 PTS | 2-4 FG | 1 REB

Analysis
Smith had just one board in nine quiet minutes. He scored two of his four points early, rising over his defender to knock down a jumper from the foul line.


Cason Wallace, Oklahoma City Thunder
Grade: B-

Game 1: 8 PTS | 3-8 FG | 2-6 3PT | 1 AST

Analysis
Team Pau repeatedly turned to Wallace in need of 3s down the stretch, and he went just 2-of-6 beyond the arc. One of those makes was a high-arcing shot from the corner. Wallace also converted his own steal into a mini-windmill dunk.


Bilal Coulibaly, Washington Wizards
Grade: B

Game 1: 4 PTS | 2-3 FG | 1 AST | 1 STL

Analysis
A patient drive for a layup followed by a strip for a steal in a key situation was Coulibaly’s best sequence. Unfortunately, he was on the wrong end of Izan Almansa’s highlight block.


Team Tamika

Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic
Grade: B

Game 1: 5 PTS | 2-7 FG | 0-4 3PT | 3 REB

Analysis
Banchero helped Team Tamika’s dominant start with a reverse dunk in transition and had a nice driving dunk, but he struggled from beyond the arc. Banchero missed all four of his 3-point attempts, including a step-back that came up short of the rim. Banchero will have a chance to find his touch in Sunday’s All-Star Game.


Jaden Ivey, Detroit Pistons
Grade: A

Game 1: 8 PTS | 4-7 FG | 4 STL | 3 REB

Analysis
Ivey ended up on the wrong end of what turned into a one-on-one battle with Bennedict Mathurin, who was drafted one pick after Ivey in 2022, yet still acquitted himself well. Ivey was aggressive attacking the basket with power and scored eight points on 4-of-7 shooting in addition to recording a game-high four steals.


Jalen Duren, Detroit Pistons
Grade: C

Game 1: 2 PTS | 1-4 FG | 1 REB | 1 STL

Analysis
Duren, who is shooting 63% from the field, had his least accurate outing of the entire season (1-of-4). Duren’s sole basket came when he showed off his ballhandling ability in the open court for a dunk, and he had a nice pass to set up a missed corner 3, but for the most part it was a quiet night.


Keegan Murray, Sacramento Kings
Grade: B+

Game 1: 5 PTS | 2-4 FG | 3 REB | 2 AST

Analysis
Murray’s pull-up 3 in transition was part of Team Tamika’s 10-0 run to start the game. Although he scored only one other basket, Murray tied for team-high honors with three rebounds and two assists.


Scoot Henderson, Portland Trail Blazers
Grade: A

Game 1: 10 PTS | 4-6 FG | 1-2 3PT | 1 AST

Analysis
Playing in an unprecedented third consecutive Rising Stars game after representing G League Ignite the past two years, Henderson came out with energy, occasionally playing full-court defense on opposing ball handlers. He couldn’t finish a dunk after coming up with a steal, but he later completed an and-1 over Walker Kessler after getting to the rim with an impressive in-and-out dribble. Henderson’s 10 points led his team.


Keyonte George, Utah Jazz
Grade: B

Game 1: 2 PTS | 1-4 FG | 1 STL | 1 BLK

Analysis
By scoring a reverse finish over Jazz teammate Walker Kessler, George had one of the night’s most memorable highlights. That was George’s only field goal, as he missed all three tries beyond the arc. He did impress on defense, stealing a backdoor pass and stripping Bennedict Mathurin.


Vince Williams Jr., Memphis Grizzlies
Grade: B

Game 1: 3 PTS | 1-2 3PT | 2 AST | 1 STL

Analysis
A last-minute replacement for the injured Dyson Daniels, Williams made a pull-up 3 in transition for his only basket of the night.

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