The Rising Stars Challenge kicked off the NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina where Kyle Kuzma won the MVP award. The Los Angeles Lakers players scored 35 points playing for the USA Rising Stars which registered a 161-144 victory over the World Rising Stars. Kuzma is a second-year player from Utah who started from the US. He participated in the game last year as a rookie.
The event featured some of the most promising young players of the NBA, including 20 rookies and second-year players. The teams were split up in the USA vs. World. Australian-born Ben Simmons, who plays for the Philadelphia Sixers led the World with 28 points. The Sacramento Team is one of the youngest teams to grace the NBA and is currently in the Western Conference playoffs. They sent three rising stars to the game- De’Aaron Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Marvin Bagley III.
The world team represented rising stars from Serbia, Canada, Slovenia, Finland, Nigeria, Turkey, Australia, Great Britain, Latvia, and the Bahamas. The team had Luka Doncic who missed the MVP award but went on to tear the game this season. The Slovenian is leading the rookies in this season but had to settle for 13 points and 9 assists during the game.
The game also gave Australian star Simmons a chance to shine. Simmons is from Melbourne, Australia and has spent one season with the LSU Tigers. He was also the overall number one pick in 2016 NBA Draft and entered Philadelphia Sixers. The point guard has averaged 15.8 points per game for his team in his rookie year but has now improved to 16.8. He also averaged 9 rebounds and 8 assists per game.
In just 21 minutes of action, he scored 28 points to lead the World team, while missing only three shots on 14-for-17 shooting. He also added 6 assists.
One of the stronger players in Simmons’ team was the 7-foot Finnish player Lauri Markkanen. He has had a strong collegiate career playing for the Arizona Wildcats and became the seventh overall pick to the Chicago Bulls in the 2017 NBA draft. In his rookie season, the young man started 68 games for the Bulls with an average of 15.2 points. This season, he has upped his game with 18.5 points average with 8.8 rebounds average. He had to miss over 20 games due to an elbow injury. However, the recent Rising Stars challenge witnessed him making 21 points with 6 assists.