A collection of the NBA‘s best young talent will gather in New Orleans on Friday night for the Rising Stars Challenge.
The game, which will pit a United States team vs. an international squad for the third year in a row, is always an entertaining way to kick off All-Star Weekend.
Here’s a preview of star-studded exhibition:
2017 Rising Stars Challenge Viewing Info
Date: Friday, February 17, 2017
Start Time: 9 p.m. ET
TV Channel, United States: TNT
TV Channel, Canada: TSN
Live Stream, United States: Sling TV, TNTDrama.com, or TNT Overtime
Live Stream, Canada: TSN.ca
Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee Bucks
Marquese Chriss, Phoenix Suns
Brandon Ingram, Los Angeles Lakers
Frank Kaminsky, Charlotte Hornets
Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia 76ers
D’Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers
Jonathon Simmons, San Antonio Spurs
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers
Alex Abrines, Oklahoma City Thunder (replaces Joel Embiid)
Dante Exum, Utah Jazz
Buddy Hield, New Orleans Pelicans
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Trey Lyles, Utah Jazz
Willy Hernangomez, New York Knicks (replaces Emmanuel Mudiay)
Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets
Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks
Domantas Sabonis, Oklahoma City Thunder
Dario Saric, Philadelphia 76ers
Team USA scored a narrow 157-154 victory last year, and they return a lot of the main contributors from that squad. Although MVP Zach LaVine won’t be back, D’Angelo Russell and Devin Booker each poured in 20-plus points last year, while Karl-Anthony Towns tallied 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Throw in the addition of dynamic rookies Marquese Chriss and Brandon Ingram, whose athleticism and length are ideal fits for an up-tempo exhibition game, as well as Myles Turner, who is among the best rim-protectors in the league, and the USA squad looks seriously dangerous.
Chriss, in particular, is a freakish athlete who may be a sneaky MVP candidate.
On the other side, the World Team doesn’t look nearly as deep in terms of talent, but they have a pair of big men who will give them a chance to win. Nikola Jokic, who has already turned into one of the best big men in the league, has the passing flare that will make him really fun to watch in this environment, while Kristaps Porzingis poured in 30 points as a rookie in this game a year ago.
Jamal Murray and Buddy Hield are two others to watch, as the rookie guards are both capable of catching fire from the outside and scoring in a hurry.
Ultimately, though, Team USA looks to have a little bit more athleticism and a couple more natural scorers (especially with Joel Embiid and Emmanuel Mudiay sidelined for the World Team), which are inevitably the two most important factors in a game like this.
Look for USA to make it two victories in a row, but no matter what happens, it will undoubtedly be a thoroughly entertaining display of the game’s future superstars.