The first day of NBA All-Star weekend this year showcased some of the young talent in the NBA, and demonstrated that the future of the league is in good hands. NBA All-Star weekend opened up with the Rising Stars challenge. The Rising Stars challenge featured up and coming rookie and sophomore NBA players that have had stellar beginnings to their NBA careers.
Former NBA stars and current NBA analysts, Grant Hill and Chris Webber, put together teams consisting of the best young talent in the NBA today. Many of these young NBA players will become All-Stars of the league in the near future, while some of them are already scheduled to play in the big game, such as, Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis. One of the highlights of the evening was the one-on-one showdown that took place between the New York Knicks Tim Hardaway Jr. and the Cleveland Cavaliers, Dion Waiters.
For a long stretch in the second quarter, Hardaway and Waiters were exchanging slicing drives through the lane, and long-range three-point bombs. All the other players on the court just got out-of-the-way and Hardaway and Waiters went head-to-head for a good few minutes. Western Conference All-Stars Kevin Durant and James Harden were watching from the sidelines, and could not help but leap from their seats during the two youngsters impressive battle.
Hardaway who was representing Team Webber, would finish the game with 36 points on 12 of 23 shooting from the field, while Waiters of Team Hill, ended the game with 31 points on 10 of 13 from the field.
Another young gun that put on a show on Friday night was the Detroit Piston’s and Team Hill’s Andre Drummond. Drummond was an absolute monster on the boards for Team Hill as he finished with 14 offensive rebounds and 25 total rebounds. Drummond added 30 points to create an impressive stat line en route to MVP honors in the 142-136 Team Hill victory.
Not only was Drummond an absolute beast on the boards, but he also made key free throws down the stretch to ensure the victory. Which is surprising, considering he shoots a cool 41 percent from the charity stripe during the regular season.
It wouldn’t be right to mention any All-Star event this year without bringing up the Portland Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard. The young sophomore will be the first player to participate in five different events during All-Star weekend. Last season’s rookie of the year was selected by Team Hill in the rising stars challenge and finished the game with 13 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds. So far so good for Lillard, if he wants to go an unprecedented 5-0 on All-Star weekend.
Leading rookie of the year candidate Michael Carter-Williams, had a near triple double for Team Hill with 17 points 9 assists and 6 rebounds. The Washington Wizards, Bradley also had a solid game for Team Webber, as he put up 21 points.If the future of the league and its All-Star game rests in the hands of these young soon to be stars, the state of the NBA should be just fine for many years to come.
By Eric Kummel