While the All-Star Game itself is an exhibition for the biggest names in basketball, a sneaky fun part of All-Star Weekend is always the Rising Stars Challenge — watching the games best young players put on a little show.
And there are plenty of good young players to showcase this season.
Last season’s Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard of Portland will be joined by the guy leading that race this season — Michael Carter-Williams of the Philadelphia 76ers — in this year’s edition of the Rising Stars Challenge. The game takes place Friday night of All-Star weekend, Feb. 14, in New Orleans.
Lillard likely will pull double duty on the weekend, playing in the All-Star Game on Sunday as well (it’s likely the coaches select him as a reserve). It’s possible Anthony Davis of the Pelicans, who has put up monster numbers the last couple games, will join him – Davis also is scheduled for the Rising Stars Challenge.
Joining Davis and Lillard as second-year players with an invite are (Harrison Barnes (Warriors), Bradley Beal (Wizards), Andre Drummond (Pistons), Terrence Jones (Rockets), Jared Sullinger (Celtics), Jonas Valanciunas (Raptors) and Dion Waiters (Cavaliers).
Other rookies in the game besides Carter-Williams are Steven Adams (Thunder), Pero Antic (Hawks), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), Trey Burke (Jazz), Tim Hardaway, Jr. (Knicks), Victor Oladipo (Magic), Kelly Olynyk (Celtics), and Mason Plumlee (Nets).
How Miles Plumlee of the Phoenix Suns got snubbed is an interesting question. For that matter Draymond Green has played better than Barnes in Golden State.
Eventually the rookies and sophomores will be drafted into teams, then once those teams are set fans will be able to go online at NBA.com and vote for what players should start on both teams. The coaches for the teams will be an assistant from the staff of Scott Brooks of the Thunder and Frank Vogel in Indiana (those are the two All-Star Game coaches, their lead assistants have to work Friday night, too).
The game will be broadcast by TNT on Feb. 14 starting at 7 p.m. Eastern.