Rising Stars Game: A Fresh Twist

The NBA has played a Rookie versus Sophomore challenge during the all star weekend for a few years now. It pits some of the top players in their rookie season versus players in their second season, much like the junior varsity team scrimmages versus varsity squads in high school. It lets them play at a bit lower level of competition, taking a break from playing against the likes of Kobe or LeBron all too often.

This year it has a twist, however, as the format has been changed. The ‘I always have something to say’ Charles Barkley will coach one squad, while Shaquille O’Neal will coach another. There are 18 players in a pool, and each coach will draft nine players. The player pool is below.

Rookies:

Kyrie Irving (Cavaliers)
Derrick Williams (Timberwolves)
Tristan Thompson (Cavaliers)
Ricky Rubio (Timberwolves)
Brandon Knight (Pistons)
Kemba Walker (Bobcats)
Markieff Morris (Suns)
Kawhi Leonard (Spurs)
Marshon Brooks (Nets)

Sophomores:

Blake Griffin (Clippers)
John Wall (Wizards)
Evan Turner (76′ers)
DeMarcus Cousins (Kings)
Greg Monroe (Pistons)
Gordon Hayward (Jazz)
Paul George (Pacers)
Landry Fields (Knicks)
Tiago Splitter (Spurs)

I’m disappointed that Jimmer Fredette (Kings), Derrick Favors (Jazz), or Al-Farouq Aminu (Hornets) did not make the roster. Fredette has really struggled this season, but against some lesser competition and with some better players, I think he could excel. Favors is having a decent season, but was a top 10 pick. Aminu is not playing a whole lot, but it would have been fun to see him play against some of the bigger bodies.

This should still be an entertaining game though. A Rubio/Griffin combo would be hard to stop, and would be very fun to watch. I’d prefer that over Griffin and Wall/Turner/Irving, though any one of those paired with a (happy) Cousins could be just as intimidating. We shall have to see how the roster comes out, but be ready for some high scoring, wide open basketball.

Follow Paul Troupe on Twitter @gamin4HIM

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