Top 5 Contenders for the Wanda Rising Star Award at FIBA World Cup 2023
The FIBA World Cup is a chance for some of the world's best young talent to show they belong on one of the biggest stages. Playing against established stars and wily veterans is an opportunity to test one's skills against some of the world's best players.
Furthermore, the difference in playing styles, physicality, and approach to the game will allow the younger generation to learn different ways to play the game, which will only expedite their improvements.
Of course, there are some young players entering the FIBA World Cup who have the chance to dominate. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Anthony Edwards, and Josh Giddey are just three names who are trying to prove they can hang at the international level while also being seen as potential stars of the tournament.
FIBA World Cup's Top 5 Rising Star Award Contenders
With so many young players looking to impress, competition to be named as the FIBA World Cup's rising star will be fierce. Let's take a look at the top five contenders as we prepare for the World Cup to begin on August 25.
1 - Josh Giddey
Since entering the NBA, Josh Giddey has flashed incredible processing speed and playmaking ability. The Australian guard is widely seen as an NBA star of the future and has excelled during his first two seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
As he continues to improve, Giddey is a potential triple-double threat on a nightly basis, using his impressive size and positional ability to garner rebounds while also showing improvements as a three-level scorer. The Australian national team is likely to feature Giddey within their offense, giving him plenty of opportunity to be recognized as the best young player at the World Cup.
2 - Paolo Banchero
Paolo Banchero enters the FIBA World Cup as the NBA's 2022-23 Rookie of the Year. During his first season with the Orlando Magic, Banchero emerged as a go-to scorer, reliable rebounder, and physical defender — drawing comparisons with budding superstar Jayson Tatum due to their Duke connection.
At the FIBA World Cup, Banchero will face a different style of play and a diverse type of opponent. However, if the Team USA star can play his natural game and continue to impress, he will be a front-runner for the Rising Star award.
3 - Zach Edey
As a throwback-style big man, Zach Edey's game is better suited to the FIBA brand of basketball. After getting little traction in the pre-draft process, Edey withdrew his name from the 2023 draft to return to the collegiate ranks.
Nevertheless, Edey has a fantastic chance to improve his stock throughout the FIBA World Cup and prove himself as one of the better young big men in the world. Regardless of whether Edey eventually makes it into the NBA or opts for a career in Europe, a big tournament for Canada could seriously alter Edey's career prospects after the upcoming college season.
4 - Nikola Jovic
Nikola Jovic is in great hands with the Miami Heat. The Serbian national team forward is among the best young players in the world and enters the FIBA World Cup with NBA experience, both in the regular season and the playoffs.
During his rookie season for Miami, Jovic struggled with his perimeter shot and will need to show signs of improvement during the World Cup tournament. However, as an NBA player who will be a focal point of his national team's offense, Jovic has an opportunity to be recognized for his high skill level.
5 - Usman Garuba
Usman Garuba had the worst start possible to the FIBA World Cup, as he was waived by the Oklahoma City Thunder, putting his immediate future uncertain. However, if Garuba can push his future to the back of his mind and focus on the World Cup, he could become one of the most dominant young players in the tournament.
Garuba is a versatile defender with impressive strength who knows how to cut off angles and is capable of switching onto multiple positions. Offensively, Garuba is a threat around the basket and can cause havoc with his rebounding ability.
While there are more complete young prospects playing at the FIBA World Cup, none of them have as much motivation to impress as Garuba does.