NBA All-Star weekend brings out stars and celebrities from all different genres. From the 3-point contest to Slam Dunk competition, there are names to be made on numerous different platforms for NBA players. One aspect of All-Star weekend that is overlooked is the BBVA Compass Rising Star Challenge.
The Rising Star Challenge pits NBA rookies and second year players in a game to showcase the best youngsters in the NBA. The game used to pit the Rookies and Sophomores against each other, but the newest format places players from both years in a pool as TNT personalities will instead draft teams to play against each other. It is a glorified pick-up game but one that up-and-coming NBA players could make a name for themselves in as it is the only time younger players get a chance to show off their talents.
This season the New York Knicks will be represented in the game once again by Tim Hardaway Jr. For a team that has drafted as poorly and held onto younger players as infrequently as the Knicks, they have been well represented in the past couple of seasons. In 2012 Jeremy Lin and Landry Fields both partook for the Knicks, Fields a multiple time participant as he was also named to the team as a rookie in 2011. Danilo Gallinari preceded them in 2010, Wilson Chandler in 2009, David Lee in 2007 and both Channing Frye and Nate Robinson participated in 2006.
Hardaway Jr. is well deserving of a place in the player pool this season, averaging 8.6 points on 45.9 percent shooting from the field, 40.9 percent from behind the three point line and 82.5 from the foul line. Amongst qualifying rookies, Hardaway Jr. ranks fourth in scoring, second in shooting percentage, second in three point shooting percentage and fourth in free throw percentage. Hardaway Jr., who was the 24th overall pick in the 2013 Draft, looks to have been a steal for the Knicks and someone worth keeping onto for the long haul.
Hardaway Jr. will be joined by 17 other players for the Rising Stars Challenge; Steven Adams, Rookie, Oklahoma City Thunder; Pero Antic, Rookie, Atlanta Hawks; Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rookie, Milwaukee Bucks; Harrison Barnes, Sophomore, Golden State Warriors; Bradley Beal, Sophomore, Washington Wizards; Trey Burke, Rookie, Utah Jazz; Michael Carter-Williams, Rookie, Philadelphia 76ers; Anthony Davis, Sophomore, New Orleans Pelicans; Andre Drummond, Sophomore, Detroit Pistons; Terrence Jones, Sophomore, Houston Rockets; Damian Lillard, Sophomore, Portland Trail Blazers; Victor Oladipo, Rookie, Orlando Magic; Kelly Olynyk, Rookie, Boston Celtics; Mason Plumlee, Rookie, Brooklyn Nets; Jared Sullinger, Sophomore, Boston Celtics; Jonas Valanciunas, Sophomore, Toronto Raptors; Dion Waiters, Sophomore, Cleveland Cavaliers.
Taking a closer look at the list you will be able to reinforce what many people were saying about the 2013 NBA Draft Class being one of the weakest ones ever. Notice that nine lottery picks, Anthony Bennett, Otto Porter, Cody Zeller, Alex Len, Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, C.J. McCollum and Shabazz Muhammad are all absent from the pool.