In a worthy opener, NBA All-Star Weekend 2017 gets underway with the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge. This annual showcase pits the league's top first-and second-year talent against one another for global bragging rights.
OKC fans will celebrate the inclusion of Domantas Sabonis and Alex Abrines as key members of Team World’s roster. The up-and-coming Oklahoma City duo will attempt to shine before a pulsating NBA epicenter in New Orleans, Lousiana.
At just 20 years of age, Thunder-mainstay Sabonis is the only rookie to have started each of his team's outings this season.
In 57 appearances, the 6'11 power forward averages 6.1 ppg (#14 among rookies), 3.7 rebs (#6 rookie), and 1.1 apg while playing 21.7 mpg (#9 rookie).
Sabonis’ signature performance (20 points, 8-11 FGM) occurred during a 117-112 victory against Boston. Overall, as a Thunder, the Lithuanian has reached double-figure scoring on ten occasions.
Meanwhile, teammate Abrines joins the World squad as a late-replacement for injured Philadelphia center Joel Embiid. The sharp-shooting 23-year-old Spaniard contributes 5.4 ppg (#19 rookie) in 14 mpg for Oklahoma City.
Abrines netted a season-best 18 points vs. New Orleans on Dec. 21. The 6’6 shooting guard (.375) currently ranks fourth in three-point percentage among rookies. Oklahoma City’s 2nd round 2014 draft selection has emerged as a valuable reserve contributor.
- BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge
- Time: 9 PM ET
- Venue: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, Louisiana
- TV: TNT
- Alex Abrines (Oklahoma City Thunder)
- Dante Exum (Utah Jazz)
- Buddy Hield (New Orleans Pelicans)
- Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)
- Willy Hernangomez (New York Knicks)
- Jamal Murray (Denver Nuggets)
- Kristaps Porzingis (New York Knicks)
- Domantas Sabonis (Oklahoma City Thunder)
- Dario Saric (Philadelphia 76ers)
- Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns)
- Malcolm Brogdon (Milwaukee Bucks)
- Marqueese 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)
- Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers)
Team U.S. -5
Team U.S. is a strong favorite heading into tonight’s anticipated rookie-sophomore classic. Both Joel Embiid (Knee) and Emmanuel Mudiay (back) were replaced by Abrines and Hernangomez on Team World’s roster.
Each team will be coached by a lead assistant from the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors’ coaching staffs.
In last season’s BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge, the U.S.A. team defeated the World Team 157-154.
Participants in the Rising Stars Challenge are selected by a voting panel comprised of NBA assistant coaches.