NBA All Star Weekend: Rising Stars

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Photo above: The author in Times Square

— From New York City, NY

One of the best parts of the NBA All Star Weekend is the Rising Stars Challenge. Held on the Friday before the All Star Game, it features the newest players from around the league on two teams: Players from the United States versus players from around the world.

The U.S. Team at practice on Thursday.
The U.S. Team at practice on Thursday.

These are rookies and second year players, like Zack LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Trey Burke of the Utah Jazz for the U.S. team versus Andrew Wiggins of the T-Wolves and Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz.

This is a game that has launched the careers of many NBA stars over the years, like Penny Hardaway and Allen Iverson. We can expect this year to the sameThese young players will really get after it and play. Everyone will be watching, fans, scouts and coaches and that will be very important for their careers. Plus, one player will go home with an MVP trophy from the game.

Sunday’s All Star game will be great entertainment, but the real NBA fans will be watching today as well for the Rising Stars Challenge, here at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn.

Cody Zeller of the Charlotte Hornets at practice on Thursday
Cody Zeller of the Charlotte Hornets at practice on Thursday

Here are the rosters for today’s game:

U.S. Team:
Nerlens Noel – Philadelphia, Zach LaVine – Minnesota, Victor Oladipo – Orlando Magic, Cody Zeller – Charlotte, Mason Plumlee – Brooklyn, Michael Carter-Williams – Philadelphia, Trey Burke – Utah, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – Detroit, Shabazz Muhammad – Minnesota, and Elfrid Payton – Orlando

World Team:
Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milwaukee, Gorgui Dieng – Minnesota, Andrew Wiggins – Minnesota, Bojan Bogdanovic – Brooklyn, Kelly Olynyk – Boston, Dante Exum – Utah, Rudy Gobert – Utah, Nikola Mirotic – Chicago, Jusuf Nurkic – Denver and Dennis Schroder – Atlanta.
Steven Adams of the Oklahoma City Thunder had been selected, but couldn’t play due to injury.

(All photos by Claudia Gestro)