What should you expect from The Rising Star Challenge?
The Rising Star Challenge, which starts off the All-Star Weekend, is an exhibition match of the league's upcoming talent. The rising star challenge itself has gone through a lot of changes since its inception in 1994.
There have been matches where the first year players were randomly distributed into two teams. Then there were matches were the rookies or first years were pitted against the sophomores or second years.
During 2012 and 2013 the players were drafted into two teams by former NBA superstars Charles Barkley (Team Chuck) & Shaquille O'Neal (Team Shaq). The same pattern was continued in 2014 but between Chris Webber (Team Webber) and Grant Hill (Team Hill).
In 2015, the format was revamped to represent the various nationalities present and to showcase the diversity present in the league. It became the Team USA vs. Team World match, where each squad had to choose at least three rookies and three sophomore players.
The first match in the new format was won by Team World and the then rookie, Minnesota Timberwolves’ Canadian player, Andre Wiggins was crowned the MVP. The list of former MVPs of the Rising Stars Challenge includes heavyweights such as Allen Iverson (1997), Carmelo Anthony 2005), Kevin Durant (2009) and Kyrie Irving (2012).
This year the USA vs. World format was followed and as this was the first time the All-Star weekend was organized outside the US, Team World was considered the home team. The countries represented in the Team World were: Croatia, Switzerland, Serbia, Montenegro, DR Congo, Brazil, Latvia, and Canada.
With three players from Canada. Team USA defeated Team World 157-154 to win the highest scoring match in the Rising Challenge history. The MVP was Zach LaVine from Team USA and it was a Minnesota Timberwolves player for the second consecutive time. The point guard scored 30 points along with having 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
In spite of being fledglings in an extremely competitive league, these young players have certainly made a mark. Some of the top noise makers are New York Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis, Milwaukee Bucks’ Jabari Parker and the Minnesota Timberwolves trio: Andrew Wiggins-Zach LaVine-Karl-Anthony Towns.
The 7ft. 3 inches tall Kristaps Porzingis has been creating waves across the league. He received one of the worst receptions during the draft ceremony when he was booed by the fans. But very quickly, he won the respect of the players and the hearts of the fans with his impressive gameplay. The forward-center has been averaging 14 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 1.2 assists
Jabari Parker was in the news even before he entered the league in 2014. He signed an endorsement deal when he signed his draft contract. He started off great last season, exceeding everyone’s expectation. But an unfortunate ACL injury ended his season very quickly. This season Parker has been doing really well under head coach Jason Kidd’s leadership.
As for the Timberwolves’ trio, they are part of a young team that is gradually building up in the highly competitive western conference. All the three players were honored by their franchise for their contributions in the All-Star Weekend. Along with being the MVP of the Rising Stars Challenge, Zach LaVine also won the Slam Dunk Contest, for the second consecutive time. While Karl-Antony Towns won the Taco Bell Skills Challenge.