NBA: Wiggins, Porzingis pace World in Rising Stars Challenge
NEW YORK, United States — Canadian Andrew Wiggins, last season’s NBA Rookie of the Year, and Latvian rookie standout Kristaps Porzingis of New York were among 20 players named Wednesday to the NBA Rising Stars Challenge.
A collection of the best US players will meet the best from around the world in a matchup of the NBA’s top rookies and second-year players on February 12 at Toronto, two days before the Canadian city hosts the 65th NBA All-Star Game.
Wiggins averages 20.8 points a game for the Minnesota Timberwolves, ranking him 15th among NBA scorers, and his 22 points last year earned him Most Valuable Player honors as the World over the USA 121-112 in the first edition of the USA-World format for the event.
Porzingis, a 2.21m center, leads all NBA rookies in blocked shots with 2.0 a game and ranks third among rookie scorers at 14.0 points a game.
Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, the top pick in last year’s NBA Draft, and Timberwolves teammare Zach LaVine, the reigning NBA Dunk Contest champion, will play on the US squad, the trio of T-Wolves’ 20-year-olds the most players from any team in the event.
Wiggins and Dallas Mavericks big man Dwight Powell are both from Toronto.
Wiggins is joined as a returning player in the World lineup by Montenegro’s Nikola Mirotic of Chicago and Croatian swingman Bojan Bogdanovic of Brooklyn.
Others on the world roster include Swiss Clint Capela of the Houston Rockets, Croatian rookie Mario Hezonja of the Orlando Magic, Serbian rookie Nikola Jokic and Democratic Republic of Congo rookie Emmanuel Mudiay of the Denver Nuggets and Brazilian rookie Raul Neto of the Utah Jazz.
Joining LaVine and Towns on the US squad are Philadelphia’s Jahlil Okafor, the top rookie scorer at 17.4 points a game and teammate Nerlens Noel, the only NBA player averaging at least 1.5 blocks and 1.5 steals; Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell of the Los Angeles Lakers, Rodney Hood of Utah, Jabari Parker of Milwaukee, Elfrid Payton of Orlando and Boston’s Marcus Smart.
NBA assistant coaches selected four guards, four front-court players and two players at either position for each team.
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