While All-Star Saturday Night and the All-Star Game itself have served as the weekend's marquee events for some time, the Rookie-Sophomore Game has become a favorite of more diehard basketball fans. The event, now known as the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge, provides up-and-coming players (not necessarily stars) the opportunity to play in a defense-averse atmosphere for a national audience. The contest doesn't look much like a real NBA game, but it does at least get many under-the-radar players noticed.
On Wednesday, the league announced the pool of players for this year's game on February 14 in New Orleans. For the third consecutive season, two as-yet-unannounced general managers will select the two teams from this group live on TNT on Thursday, February 6. And those players are:
Rookies: Steven Adams, Pero Antic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Trey Burke, Michael Carter-Williams, Tim Hardaway Jr., Victor Oladipo, Kelly Olynyk, Mason Plumlee
Sophomores: Harrison Barnes, Bradley Beal, Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, Terrence Jones, Damian Lillard, Jared Sullinger, Jonas Valanciunas, Dion Waiters
Of this group, Lillard and Davis look to have the only real chances of making the All-Star Game itself, which means they could get replaced in the Rising Stars Challenge eventually. However, with Davis's Pelicans playing host to the weekend, it's somewhat likely that he will take part in as many events as possible.
It's hard to get too upset about snubs for a game with so few nationally known players, but there are some notable names not on this list. First-overall pick Anthony Bennett is the most glaring omission, though more for his unfortunate, possibly improving season than any sense that he deserves inclusion. Second-year forward Miles Plumlee of the Phoenix Suns might have earned a spot, especially considering his playing with younger brother Mason would make for a nice story, but he has struggled of late. An argument can be made that he deserved a spot, but the basketball world has more important causes to fight for.
Anyway, if you need me, I'll be waiting for that special-edition Pero Antic jersey to become available for purchase.
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