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Preview: The Rising Stars Challenge

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Two Nuggets will get their chance to shine amoung the up and comers of the NBA

BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The NBA gets All Star Weekend right, or at least as right as a league can get with a weekend filled with exhibition competition that has no bearing on the season. While I certainly could do without the Celebrity All Star Game, the Dunk Contest, the 3pt Contest and the All Star Game themselves are all staples in the league and in general are well received among the general public. The NBA has expanded over the years to include a skills competition which now highlights big men versus traditional guards, this year’s contest in particular promises a special treat for Denver Nuggets fans as budding star Nikola Jokic will be a contestant. Perhaps though the most exciting event for Nuggets fans this weekend is tonight’s Rising Stars Challenge which features not only Jokic but also rookie sharpshooter Jamal Murray. Both players will suit up for the world team, which promises to be one of the more exciting RSC lineups in recent memory.

The Basics

Who: Team World vs Team USA

When: 7:00 PM MST

Where: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans LA

How to watch: TNT

Rosters

Position World Team USA Team
Position World Team USA Team
Guard Dante Exum - Jazz Devin Booker - Suns
Guard Buddy Hield - Pelicans Malcolm Brogdon - Bucks
Forward Trey Lyles - Jazz Marqueese Chriss - Suns
Forward Domantas Sabonis - Thunder Brandon Ingram - Lakers
Forward Dario Saric - 76ers Frank Kaminsky - Hornets
Center Nikola Jokic - Nuggets Jahlil Okafor - 76ers
Guard Jamal Murray - Nuggets D'Angelo Russell - Lakers
Guard Alex Abrines - Thunder Jonathan Simmons - Spurs
Center Willy Hernangomez - Knicks Karl-Anthony Towns - Timberwolves
Center Kristaps Porzingis - Knicks Myles Turner - Pacers

Injured players: Emmanuel Mudiay - Nuggets (Back), Joel Embiid - 76ers (knee)

The World has come a long way

If not for injuries the World team would have a stacked roster. Not only will they be without Embiid, who is the front runner for rookie for the year, but also had fellow 76ers teammate and first overall pick Ben Simmons not been sidelined the entire season so far with a foot injury then the front court of this roster would be incredibly formidable. We all know about Jokic, and though we often like to point out that he has in general got the better of Kristaps Porzingis, it’s foolish to deny the talent that Porzingis has. Emmanuel Mudiay, while not lighting the world on fire, performed very well in this competition last year so his loss is felt as well. However, in his place is Willy Hernangomez, the upstart Spaniard for the Knicks who has been incredibly solid for them. The backcourt is a little less stacked, Buddy Hield and Murray have had their moments, but both have been ripe with the inconsistency that comes with rookies, meanwhile Dante Exum is continuing his comeback from an ACL tear that caused him to miss all of last season.

Who I’ve got my eye on: Malcolm Brogdon

I wanted the Nuggets to draft Brogdon so badly. He’s a physical specimen with absurdly large hands and long wingspan for a guy who stands just 6’4” in height and he was definitely the star of the draft combine in my eyes. Brogdon would wind up being drafted in the second round by the Milwaukee Bucks (36th overall) and has only rocketed upwards since then. As a player who spent four years in college Brogdon is showing the benefits that that type of college experience can have. He’s shown the maturity and understanding to be able to become a key contributor to the Bucks in his rookie season, including starting 12 games. Give the Bucks credit for identifying a guy who could help them right away and getting what looks like the steal of the draft.

Please no injuries

As a Nuggets guys this applies to Jokic and Murray most of all for me but in general I don’t want to see anybody get hurt over the weekend. I’m glad Mudiay decided to sit it out. In pregame warmups before the Golden State Warriors match up he looked to be moving pretty well so there’s a chance the Nuggets decided to just hold him out all the way up to the break so he would have a really good shot to be 100% healthy once the games that count start again. These events are fun and the Rising Stars Challenge and Saturday Night festivities give an opportunity for some of the up and coming players in the NBA to put themselves on the map as far as NBA stardom, but the brass tacks of it is they are ultimately meaningless and should anyone suffer an injury because of them an entire fan base will be up in arms. Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen.