It has taken a generation, but the NBA has finally figured out the format for the All-Star Rookie Game. Now known as the Rising Stars Challenge, the league’s midseason showcase for young players didn’t always look this way. And it wasn’t always a good game, either. When the game debuted in 1994, it featured only rookies playing against each other. The teams were called the Phenoms and the Sensations. The following year, the teams were simply called White and Green. Now there’s
Thomas Robinson just caught a huge break. With the possible exception of Austin Rivers, Robinson had been the most disappointing 2012 lottery pick this season. An All-American and the Big 12 Player of the Year, he went fifth overall to the Sacramento Kings, who weren’t exactly loaded in the frontcourt. There appeared to be an opportunity for Robinson to make an impact as a rookie, but he did not. He has averaged 4.8 points and 4.7 rebounds in just under 16 minutes.
Last week, rookie big men Tyler Zeller and Andrew Nicholson weren’t even in these rankings. This week, they are in the Rising Stars contest that kicks off All-Star Weekend on Friday night. Zeller, the center of the Cleveland Cavaliers, was among the original field of nine rookies chosen for the game. Nicholson, a power forward for the Orlando Magic, was added this week to replace injured Detroit Pistons big man Andre Drummond.
All the All-Star stuff came down Thursday night. This year’s All-Star Saturday Night has a new theme of Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference. Like that’s going to turn a weekend where everyone wants to (a) party and (b) not get hurt into serious competition. TNT personalities Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal made their picks as GMs for the Rising Stars Challenge. O’Neal had the first pick and chose Portland guard Damian Lillard. Barkley then chose New Orleans big man Anthony Davis. Yeah, you
Damian Lillard’s path to Rookie of the Year just seems to get easier every week. In addition to his unwavering play at the game’s toughest position, the point guard of the Portland Trail Blazers has yet to miss a game this season, which many of his fellow classmates have been unable to say lately.
Pistons No. 1 draft pick Andre Drummond There is a developing groundswell of support for Andre Drummond as an alternative to Damian Lillard for Rookie of the Year. This is a borderline insane notion, of course. Drummond is a big man who doesn’t even start for the awful Detroit Pistons, who harbor only faint playoff hopes despite playing in the Eastern Conference. Lillard is a point guard, the toughest position in the NBA, and is playing it so