The NBA named Rising Stars rosters last year.
But does anyone even remember that the game wasn’t played?
Some players and their agents can get worked up about roster selection. However, the actual exhibition game featuring rookies and sophomores is hilariously uncompetitive – even by All-Star Weekend standards.
So, the league is introducing a new format for the oft-modified event. After seven years of USA vs. World rosters (and six years of USA vs. World games):
- A four-team tournament will replace the single game.
- The player pool will consist of 28 players – 12 rookies, 12 sophomores and four players from the Ignite (the NBA minor-league team of top young prospects).
- NBA assistant coaches will still pick the 12 rookies and 12 sophomores who participate with one ballot per coaching staff. Minor-league head coaches will pick the Ignite players.
- Assistants from the 2022 All-Star coaching staffs (on pace to be the Suns and Heat, though the Bulls and Nets are close in the East) and members of the 75th anniversary team will serve as coaches.
- The coaches will draft teams of seven players, with one Ignite player on each team.
- The first round will feature two games with target scores (Elam Endings) of 50.
- The winners will then play to a target score of 25.
- Between both its games, the winning team will score 75 points in honor of the NBA’s 75th anniversary.
- Four pairs of players will also compete in a timed shooting competition, where each duo will alternate shooting from five locations where iconic shots were made in the playoffs. Whichever team makes all five shots fastest wins.
This beats the previous format.
Drafts are always fun. The NBA even held a draft for this event before.
As we’ve seen in the All-Star game, the target score can really raise competitiveness. There’s no standing around until the clock runs out. Crunch time can be thrilling. However, this will be the first time the games don’t include a timed component before the target score takes effect. It’ll be interesting to see how long the games actually take.
Maybe Ignite players, eager to prove themselves, will take the game more seriously. That could be contagious.
The tournament adds another intriguing layer. Who wants to fill out a bracket? (After a mock draft, of course.)