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Rising Stars, soaring Rockets

A Good Night for Houston Players

NBA: Rising Stars Challenge
Well, more expected than giving it to Tate.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight’s NBA All Star Weekend festivities marked the beginning of a new format for the Rising Stars game. Instead of two teams playing a game that can be sloppier than even the main All Star Game, the NBA revised the format.

Tonight there were four teams of seven top first and second year NBA players, and they played a mini tournament of single elimination games. The games were played to a set score of 50 for the opening round, and 25 for the “Final”. The first team to reach that mark won.

Here are the rosters:

TEAM BARRY

TEAM ISIAH

TEAM PAYTON

  • LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
  • Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors
  • Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago Bulls
  • Chris Duarte, Indiana Pacers (Injured, will not play)
  • Scoot Henderson, G League Ignite
  • Bones Hyland, Denver Nuggets (Injury replacement for Mitchell)
  • Jonathan Kuminga, Golden State Warriors (Injury replacement for Duarte)
  • Jaden McDaniels, Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Davion Mitchell, Sacramento Kings (Injured, will not play)

TEAM WORTHY

The first game featured Team Worthy, with Jalen Green against Team Isaih, featuring lots of second year breakout players, including 2020 1-1 pick Anthony Edwards. Jalen Green came out playing well, and scored 20 of his team’s 49 point effort, including 4-9 from three, and 8-13 overall, including some spectacular dunks. His team might have won it all, if The Other Jalen, Jalen Suggs, had made his free throws to win the game. Instead, Team Isaih won by one point on two free throws by Desmond Bane.

This game was played at a break neck All Star pace, with little defense until the scores were in the mid 40s. If you like in-game dunks, watch this game, because there were some beauties. I personally prefer that kind of dunk, as there’s little time to prepare or plan, and sometimes that spontaneous burst of pure excitement is better.

The second game was more defensively minded, slower, and far less high flying. In the end Team Barry won this one, 50-48. The Rockets Alperen Sengun didn’t feature heavily in the outcome here, but JaeSean Tate was crucial. His defense, and tenacious rebounding was key to victory, as was a rather remarkable drive and shot to win the game. He looked to be fouled about three times on the play, but made the soft floater at the basket all the same.

The “Final” was between Team Isaih and Team Barry, with the score to reach being 25 in this one. This game was more defensive from the start, and Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Alerpen Sengun and JaeSean Tate put the clamps on the opposition. Alperen Sengun was probably the “MVP” of this one, with good defense, and a key series with one of his signature no-look passes to Mobley, and then a slow, but accurate, wide open three.

So end the end, it was a great night for the young Rockets, with Tate especially showing why Rockets fans love him - his relentless energy on both ends of the floor was a game winner tonight. The NBA took the safe marketing route, and gave the Rising Star MVP to Cade Cunningham. It was a perfectly fine choice, but he wasn’t clearly better than Tate, Mobley, or Sengun. Tate would have been my MVP, but I’m biased.

All in all the new format seemed like a real success, breathed life into the contest, and with the smaller rosters, and faster games, actually featured more of the young players showing what they can do in a competitive exhibition.

Poll

Favorite Rising Rocket?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    Jalen Green - Scoring Machine
    (48 votes)
  • 26%
    JaeSean Tate - Mr. Intensity
    (60 votes)
  • 52%
    Alperen Sengun - The Most Entertaining Big In The NBA
    (120 votes)
228 votes total Vote Now