The Rising Stars Challenge (better known as the rookie-sophomore game) has gone undergone several format changes.
It began in 1994 with two teams of rookies, split without regard to conference affiliation. That lasted two years.
Then, the rookies were divided by conference for the next three years.
After the 1999 lockout, the game returned as a matchup between first- and second-year payers. The teams alternated wins for three years, then the sophomores went on a seven-year win streak. The rookies won the last two games under that format as the older players seemingly lost interest in the game.
The last three years have featured former players now in the media drafting teams from a pool of rookie and sophomores, freely mixing players by experience as long as each team met certain positional requirements.
Now, the game could be revamped yet again.
A league source tells CSNNE.com that the league has given some thought to modifying the rookie/sophomore game to where the league’s top first and second-year players would join forces to face a team of standout players from overseas.
The rookie/sophomore squad would likely consist of the top rookies and sophomores with no limit or minimum on how many from each class can be on the team.
This would be better than the current format, but with the Olympics and World Cup, we have better opportunities to see NBA players and top overseas players on the same court. Would this one-game exhibition really add anything?
I’d prefer the NBA return to an all-rookie game pitting the conferences against each other. Everyone loves rookies, and that’s a logical way to divide them. It’d be a good chance to see talented players who’ve had limited opportunities in larger roles.
The sophomores just are too established to have much interest in this game, which is another problem with this potential shift. If the NBA team will feature both rookies and sophomores with no limits on class participation, the roster will usually feature mostly sophomores, which is a somewhat strange group to highlight. Why not third-year players?
What I’d really like to see: Rookies vs. D-League All-Stars. You know the D-Leaguers would give it their all, which would force the NBA players to step up their game to avoid embarrassment. Best of all, we don’t have any other games like this on the calendar. It’d really create excitement, and a lot of pride would be on the line.