Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson, guard Dion Waiters and forward/center Tyler Zeller join 2013 NBA Eastern Conference All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, as being selected to participate in the 2013 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge to be held on Friday, February 15 in Houston during NBA All-Star Weekend 2013. The participants in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge are current rookies and sophomores who were selected by the NBA's assistant coaches, with each team submitting one ballot.
Thompson, the fourth overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, has played in 46 games this season, averaging 11.0 points on .494 shooting and 9.3 rebounds in 31.8 minutes per game. He is averaging 3.9 offensive rebounds per game which is the third most in the league. Thompson has 17 double-doubles this season which is the third most among all second-year players.
Waiters, the fourth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, has appeared in 38 games and is currently second among rookies in scoring, averaging 14.5 points per game to go along with 2.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 30.2 minutes per game. Among rookie guards, he ranks second in steals (1.0), third in assists and fourth in total three pointers made (49).
Zeller, 17th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, has played in 42 games, averaging 8.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.0 block in 27.8 minutes per game. Among rookie forward/centers, he ranks second in points per game, third in rebounds per game and third in blocks per game. Among all rookies, Zeller ranks fifth in points+rebounds+assists per game at 15.7 per game.
Irving, already selected by the Eastern Conference head coaches as a 2013 All-Star, has appeared in 35 games this season and currently ranks sixth in the league (first among point guards) in scoring averaging 23.9 on .470 shooting, to go along with 3.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists in 35.7 minutes per game. The reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week is one of only two players (LeBron James) in the East averaging at least 20 points and five assists and he has the third-highest points per game average in the fourth quarter in the NBA at 6.6 points per fourth quarter.
The 2013 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge will feature two teams drafted by TNT Analysts Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal who will serve as the opposing general managers. Each team will have nine man rosters, consisting of both NBA rookies and sophomores drafted from the available pool selected by the NBA's assistant coaches. The head coaches for both teams will be the lead assistant coaches from the 2013 NBA All-Star Game coaching staffs. The East and West coaching staffs will be determined by the best record in each conference through games played Feb. 3. The Chicago Bulls' and Oklahoma City's staffs, by virtue of having helmed the sidelines of the 2012 All-Star game, are not eligible to coach this year's game. Fans will have the opportunity to vote online for who should be in the starting lineup for each team.
The BBVA Rising Stars Challenge will be televised live nationally on February 15th on TNT at 9 p.m. ET.