NBA Rising Stars 2023: 5 Players To Watch In Rookie-Sophomore Games

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Are you ready for tonight? The NBA All-Star Rising Stars mini-tournament will see 28 of the league’s best young talents in Salt Lake City as part of the 72nd annual All-Star Weekend. It will be the perfect moment to showcase their skills in front of the whole world, and maybe even, prove they are out to become legends of the sport one day.

So this is how it works. The 28 athletes selected will be divided up into four different squads, each coached by a former NBA player with Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, Jason Terry, and Deron Williams.

The four coaches already participated in a draft last week which saw the former Lakers star Gasol take the player everyone was out for: Orlando Magic’s rookie Paolo Banchero.

Now, the competition’s format will first see two semifinals matches playing until the first team reaches a target score of 40 points. The final contest, on the other hand, will see the two semifinal winners clash until the first team drops a final score of 25 points and be crowned the champions.

Just like in years past, this Rising Stars’ tournament features players made up of NBA rookies, sophomores, as well as G-League athletes.

We made a Top 5 list of the young stars we believe you should have your eyes over them during the games:

Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic

NBA Rising Stars 2023: 5 Players To Watch In Rookie-Sophomore Games

Let’s start by stating the obvious! Of course all eyes will be over Paolo Banchero, who has taken the NBA’s attention by storm in his rookie year. The 20-year-old is not only the Rookie of the Year frontrunner, leading all first-year players in points, but he is also Orlando’s best as he leads his squad in scoring (19.9), rebounding (6.6) and assists (3.6) per contest.

One of his best performances of the season was just a couple of weeks ago, when he dropped 22 points, won 10 rebounds and handed out 5 assists against the Hornets, as the Magic defeated Charlotte 119 to 113.

So, it’s not only about his stats, it’s the way he is leading the Orlando camp after a complicated campaign for the Florida side. We are expecting big things from the rookie under Pau Gasol in this year’s Jordan Rising Stars event.

Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors

NBA Rising Stars 2023: 5 Players To Watch In Rookie-Sophomore Games

We are talking about none other than the reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, who is about to participate as a Rising Star for the second consecutive year. His team, the Toronto Raptors were very specific about his role in the squad during this past transfer window, stating that they were open to negotiations with any player in the roster, except for the 21-year-old.

After 55 games of his sophomore season, Barnes is averaging 15.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game on 45.7% shooting from the floor so far. The young foward is close to matching the numbers he achieved as a rookie, as he averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 49.2% shooting after 74 contests in the last campaign that awarded him the honor of the top rookie.

Scoot Henderson, G-League Ignite

NBA Rising Stars 2023: 5 Players To Watch In Rookie-Sophomore Games

We really wanted to include a player from the G-League in this list, as Scoot Henderson has been the talk of the town after this year’s performances for Ignite. The youngster is the most expected to be every team’s favorite second pick in the next draft, only behind young french superstar Victor Wembanyama.

Henderson, who is averaging 18.9 points per game across 17 G-League contests this campaign, is a six-foot-two point guard who is as strong as he is athletic, as he constantly reminds fans of legends of the game like veteran star Russell Westbrook in his prime.

Don’t be surprised if you see Henderson steal the show during the Rising Stars showcase!

Franz Wagner, Orlando Magic

NBA Rising Stars 2023: 5 Players To Watch In Rookie-Sophomore Games

Lucky Orlando is the only team with two players on this exclusive list. Too bad their team isn’t having a season to remember, although they might be remembered by how the youngsters have led the squad to the light and hopefully a bright and promising future.

The sophomore, who has been selected for his second Rising Star appearance, has played every game for his team this championship except for one, as he’s averaged 18.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in 33.2 minutes per contest over 58 matches so far. Also, impossible not to mention the foward is the 57th best scorer in the league from field goal attempts, dropping 48.4% of his shots.

The German International might be in the Rising Stars’ winning team as coach Deron Williams also has Trey Murphy III and Jalen Green in their squad.

Jalen Green, Houston Rockets

NBA Rising Stars 2023: 5 Players To Watch In Rookie-Sophomore Games

Averaging 21.8 points per game this season in his second year as a professional, how could Jalen Green not make the list? The 21-year-old from Houston has the 26th best scoring record in the NBA this campaign and it’s no wonder why. Just this past Monday, for example, he dropped 29 points against the Philadelphia 76ers, as he also won 3 rebounds and handing out 4 assists in the Rockets’ 123 to 104 defeat.

The shooting guard has coupled up perfectly in Houston with another sophomore headed to the Rising Stars this weekend, the Turkish international Alpen Sengün. Both players are leading the Rockets through a tragic season, who’s depended entirely on their youth this campaign.