The 18 players eligible for the 2014 NBA Rising Stars Challenge draft were announced Wednesday, Jan. 29. Given the depth of this crop of precocious players, the two teams featuring the future faces of the Association are sure to make for an exciting game during All-Star Weekend.
As reported by BasketballInsiders.com, NBA assistant coaches selected the group of promising young talent. The nine rookies and nine second-year players that were selected will take part in a draft that will be held on Feb. 6 to determine the two teams.
Here is an overview of all the players available for selection, courtesy of the NBA All-Star's official Twitter account:
|Steven Adams, C||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|Giannis Antetokounmpo G/F||Milwaukee Bucks|
|Pero Antic, F/C||Atlanta Hawks|
|Trey Burke, G||Utah Jazz|
|Michael Carter-Williams, G||Philadelphia 76ers|
|Tim Hardaway Jr., G||New York Knicks|
|Victor Oladipo, G||Orlando Magic|
|Kelly Olynyk, F/C||Boston Celtics|
|Mason Plumlee, C/F||Brooklyn Nets|
|Harrison Barnes, F||Golden State Warriors|
|Bradley Beal, G||Washington Wizards|
|Anthony Davis, F||New Orleans Pelicans|
|Andre Drummond, C||Detroit Pistons|
|Terrence Jones, F||Houston Rockets|
|Damian Lillard, G||Portland Trail Blazers|
|Jared Sullinger, F||Boston Celtics|
|Jonas Valanciunas, C||Toronto Raptors|
|Dion Waiters, G||Cleveland Cavaliers|
Source: NBA All-Star Twitter account
The game will take place on Friday, Feb. 14, in New Orleans Arena. General Managers for the teams will be announced at a later date.
Who will put on the best performance in the Rising Stars Challenge?
Headlining the bunch is hometown Pelicans' big man Anthony Davis, whose stellar offensive game and shot-blocking ability could land him a yet-to-be-announced reserve spot on the Western Conference All-Star squad. Davis should get plenty of cheers from the friendly crowd throughout the entire weekend.
Portland Trail Blazers point guard and reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard was also named to the 18-player pool, which comes as no surprise since he's driven the team to a 33-13 record thus far.
Some of the NBA's struggling teams can take solace in the fact that other assistant coaches see great potential in some of their players.
Rookies Victor Oladipo of the Orlando Magic and Milwaukee Bucks swingman Giannis Antetokounmpo were chosen to partake in this premier showcase, where they'll have a far bigger stage than usual to display their skills.
The Utah Jazz passed along this quote from rookie Trey Burke, who commented on being selected to take part in the event:
“It’s an honor to be chosen to the Rising Stars Challenge and to be able to represent the Jazz during All-Star Weekend” - @Trey_Burke3 [1/3]— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) January 29, 2014
Perhaps the most exciting member of the 2013 draft class, though, is Philadelphia 76ers point guard Michael Carter-Williams, whose unique length for the position and untapped upside give him a high ceiling as a pro.
As exciting as it will be to monitor many of these promising players' careers moving forward, the Rising Stars Challenge is a great opportunity for basketball fans to catch them all in one place competing against each other.