Earlier today the NBA announced its selections for the Rising Stars Challenge game, which is played annually during All-Star Weekend. You may know it better as the ‘rookie-sophomore game'. Miami Heat rookie point guard Norris Cole was hoping to represent his team and be a part of this game, but unfortunately the NBA had other ideas.
The league is full of talented rookie guards, and Cole was left off the roster that includes the #1 pick from last summer's draft, Kyrie Irving. Other guards also participating in the game are the Timberwolves' Ricky Rubio, the Pistons' Brandon Knight and the Bobcats' Kemba Walker. Cole had a strong start to the season, capturing the attention of Heat fans everywhere, but since then his play has tailed off somewhat.
Here is the full list of participants for the Rising Stars Challenge:
Rookies: Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers), Ricky Rubio (Minnesota Timberwolves), MarShon Brooks (New Jersey Nets), Brandon Knight (Detroit Pistons), Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs), Markieff Morris (Phoenix Suns), Tristan Thompson (Cleveland Cavaliers), Kemba Walker (Charlotte Bobcats), and Derrick Williams (Minnesota Timberwolves).
Sophomores: Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers) DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings), Landry Fields (New York Knicks), Paul George (Indiana Pacers), Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz), Greg Monroe (Detroit Pistons), Tiago Splitter (San Antonio Spurs), Evan Turner (Philadelphia 76ers), and John Wall (Washington Wizards).
This year the NBA is implementing a new format to this game, which traditionally had the rookies on one team and the second-year players on another team. Instead, the players will be mixed together to create teams. How will the teams be chosen? I'm so glad you asked!
TNT analysts Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal will serve as the general managers of the two teams, while fellow analysts Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson will also have roles in the game. Smith will be the honorary commissioner while Johnson will host the Rising Stars Challenge Draft, which will take place on Thursday February 16th and broadcast on NBA TV.