Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins, last season's Rookie of the Year, and teammate center Karl-Anthony Towns highlight the players selected to play in the Rising Stars Challenge prior to the 2016 NBA All-Star Game.
The league on Wednesday announced the 20 players for the game to be held on Friday, Feb. 12 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The 65th All-Star Game will be on Sunday, Feb. 14.
New York Knicks forward/center Kristaps Porzingis joins Wiggins on the World Team. Minnesota guard Zach LaVine, the dunk champion at NBA All-Star 2015, will play alongside Towns on the U.S. Team, giving the Timberwolves three players in the game, all 20 years old.
For the second consecutive year, the league's annual showcase of premier young talent will pit 10 first- and second-year NBA players from the United States against 10 first- and second-year NBA players from around the world.
The World Team is anchored by Wiggins, who ranks 15th in the NBA in scoring (20.8 points per game), and Porzingis, who is third among rookies in scoring (14.0 ppg) and first in blocked shots (2.0 bpg). In last year's Rising Stars Challenge, Wiggins scored 22 points and earned MVP honors in the World Team's 121-112 victory over the U.S. Team.
Wiggins is one of two Toronto-born players on this year's World Team roster, along with forward/center Dwight Powell of the Dallas Mavericks. Rounding out the World Team are guard/forward Bojan Bogdanovic of the Brooklyn Nets, forward/center Clint Capela of the Houston Rockets, guard/forward Mario Hezonja of the Orlando Magic, center Nikola Jokic and guard Emmanuel Mudiay of the Denver Nuggets, forward Nikola Mirotic of the Chicago Bulls and guard Raul Neto of the Utah Jazz.
Towns, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft is one of three NBA players averaging at least 16.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.
Towns and LaVine are joined on the U.S. Team by Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor, who leads all rookies in scoring (17.4 ppg), and Sixers teammate forwrad/center Nerlens Noel, the only NBA player averaging at least 1.5 blocks and 1.5 steals. The U.S. Team also includes guards Jordan Clarkson and D'Angelo Russell of the Los Angeles Lakers, guard Rodney Hood of the Jazz, forward Jabari Parker of the Milwaukee Bucks, guard Elfrid Payton of the Magic and guard Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics.
The NBA's assistant coaches chose the rosters for the Rising Stars Challenge, selecting four guards, four frontcourt players and two players at either position for each team. The coaches also picked a minimum of three first-year players and three second-year players for each team.
Along with the Rising Stars Challenge and NBA All-Star Game, Air Canada Centre will also host All-Star Saturday Night on Feb. 13. Other events at NBA All-Star 2016 include the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game and the NBA Development League All-Star Game.
This will be the first NBA All-Star Game held outside the U.S.