2015 Rising Stars Challenge Becomes An International Affair
In an effort to bring excitement and interest back into the entirety of the All-Star Weekend, the NBA announced today that the 2015 Rising Stars Challenge (Rookie/Sophomore game) will change its format. It now features the best first and second-year NBA players from the United States facing off against the top first and second-year NBA players from around the world. With more international players playing in the league than ever before (101 players from 37 countries and territories were on opening-night rosters for the 2014-15 season), this game gives the NBA the chance to revamp the dying Rookie/Sophomore concept into a competitive game that will engage the ever growing global audience and will help fuel the development of basketball around the world.
The criteria for each team is as follows:
The league’s assistant coaches will select 10 U.S. players and 10 international players for the game, with one ballot for each of the NBA’s 30 teams. Both 10-man rosters will include four guards, four frontcourt players and two players regardless of position. Each team will also feature a minimum of three first-year players and three second-year players among its 10 spots.
The head coaches for each team will be an assistant from the 2015 NBA All-Star Game coaching staffs. The Eastern Conference and Western Conference All-Star Game coaches will be determined by the best record in the conference through games played on Sunday, Feb. 1.
At first glance, it’s easy to think that the US team will dominate this game, just as they do at the Olympics and the FIBA World Cup. However, with a couple of the top US-born rookies injured this season (Jabari Parker and Julius Randle) and the huge size advantage that the World team will have, it’s not too hard to see the international team stacking up as the stronger squad.
Who could make the cut?
After some consideration, chopping and changing, here’s who I think will be picked for each team:
US notables: Solomon Hill (Indiana Pacers), Zach LaVine (Minnesota Timberwolves), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Detroit Pistons), Tim Hardaway Jr (New York Knicks), Shabazz Napier (Miami Heat) and Cody Zeller (Charlotte Hornets).
International notables: Anthony Bennett, Kelly Olynyk, Nik Stauskas (Canada), Matthew Dellavedova, Joe Ingles (Australia), Pero Antic (Macedonia), Sergey Karasev (Russia), Damjan Rudez (Croatia) and Kostas Papanikolau (Greece)
Is it possible that Aussie swingman Joe Ingles gets named for the international squad as well? Who do you think should be in each team?
Thank you for loving Aussie hoops! From Kein, Damian and #TeamPnR