The Cavaliers may be 13-33 on the season, and they may only have one All-Star on their team, but the future appears to be much brighter for the Cavaliers. On Wednesday, the player pool for the Rising Stars Challenge was announced, and it contained the names of four Cavaliers players. The most any other team had was two players.
Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller will all represent the wine and gold at this year's event, and for an organization that has endured a lot over the past few seasons, it means that things are finally moving in the right direction.
Irving and Thompson both represented Cleveland in the event last year, and both played outstanding. Thompson went 10-of-11 from the floor and scored 20 points, leading Team Shaq in scoring. On the other side, Kyrie Irving went 12-of-13 from the floor, including going 8-of-8 from three-point land, en route to a 34-point performance that led all scorers. Irving also dished out nine assists and took home MVP honors from the game.
With the improvement of both of these second-year players this season, it was no surprise to see Irving and Thompson once again selected to play in the Rising Stars Challenge.
As far as the rookies go, Dion Waiters was expected to be chosen for the game. The game is full of NBA lottery picks, and Waiters meets the criteria, as he was the fourth overall pick in this past NBA draft. Among the rookies this year, Waiters is second in scoring with 14.5 points per game and has been a great shooting guard to complement Kyrie Irving this season.
The final Cavalier selected, Tyler Zeller, was a little bit of a surprise. Zeller is definitely deserving of a spot in the game, but he was the only non-lottery rookie to be invited to the game. This is a testament to how well the Cavaliers have done in the draft over the past two seasons.
Zeller is averaging 8.3 points per game this season along with 6.2 rebounds per game, and he has done a very nice job filling in for the injured Anderson Varejao this season.
It should be very exciting to see what the Cavaliers' young core of stars can do in this year's Rising Stars Challenge, and it will also be interesting to see how they get paired up in the game. The game will feature nine players on each side, so the Cavaliers could all be on the same team, or we could see them pitted against one another.
Either way, it should be a fun night to open up NBA All-Star Weekend, and it will be a great night to show NBA fans that the Cavaliers are taking all the right steps to rebuild this organization.
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