The NBA Rising Stars Challenge is undergoing another makeover.
No longer will it be Team Chuck vs. Team Shaq or Team Webber vs. Team Hill. The annual All-Star weekend showcase of first- and second-year players will be Team USA vs. Team World, the NBA announced Wednesday:
The BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge at NBA All-Star 2015 in New York City will feature a new format that pits first- and second-year NBA players from the United States against first- and second-year NBA players from around the world....
... 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.
Starting in 1994, the exhibition of the league's brightest young stars took on a "Sensations vs. Phenoms" format. It then moved to East vs. West before making the change to Rookies vs. Sophomores in 2000. Finally, in 2012, the NBA introduced a fantasy draft, with different TNT analysts selecting their teams from a pool of players.
Now, the game is getting another change, which has invoked some excitement:
John Ledesma @JohnnyNBA
!! RT @jorgeccastillo: NBA announces rising stars game during all-star weekend will be U.S. vs. World this year.2015-1-21 22:36:28
Sean Highkin @highkin
Oh, this is neat: the league just announced this year's Rising Stars (rookies/sophs) game at ASW will have a USA vs. World format.2015-1-21 22:31:17
Really, when it comes to the events at All-Star weekend, change can never be a bad thing. The competition tends to get stale fast, and it's nice to see the NBA continuing to make tweaks to keep things compelling.
At first glance, the international team could feature tremendous length, size and athleticism with players like Andrew Wiggins, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Gorgui Dieng, Rudy Gobert and Jusuf Nurkic. Team USA, however, could respond with an explosive group of guards—such as Victor Oladipo, Trey Burke, Zach LaVine and Elfrid Payton—who should thrive in this setting.
Either way, intrigue in this game is higher than it has been in quite some time.