NBA

NBA All-Star Game 2021: Who should be selected for the Rising Stars Challenge?

The 2021 NBA All-Star Game is set for Sunday, March 7 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, GA.

In a year like no other, each All-Star event will take place on Sunday, as the game will be preceded by the Taco Bell Skills Challenge and the MTN DEW 3-Point Contest, while the AT&T Slam Dunk will take place at halftime.

Missing from this year's All-Star festivities is the Rising Stars Challenge, the league's annual showcase of first- and second-year players, which will not be played due to the limitation of having All-Star events all on one night. Although there won't be a game played this year, the NBA recognized its Rising Stars by announcing rosters on Wednesday, March 3.

MORE: Official Rising Stars Rosters revealed | Who is participating in the Skills, 3-Point and Dunk Contests?

Prior to the official announcement, NBA.com's Gil McGregor (World Team) and Kyle Irving (U.S. Team) put on their GM hats to try and predict who would be representing their respective teams in the showcase.

Keep in mind that the rosters are comprised of 10 players - four frontcourt players, four guards and two additional players at any position.

Now, onto the selections…

U.S. Team (Irving) World Team (McGregor)
Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans Frontcourt Deni Avdija, Israel, Washington Wizards
De'Andre Hunter, Atlanta Hawks (Injured) Frontcourt Brandon Clarke, Canada, Memphis Grizzlies
Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets Frontcourt Rui Hachimura, Japan, Washington Wizards
LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets Guard RJ Barrett, Canada, New York Knicks
Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies Guard Luguentz Dort, Canada, Oklahoma City Thunder
Tyler Herro, Miami Heat Precious Achiuwa, Nigeria, Miami Heat
Keldon Johnson, San Antonio Spurs Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Canada, New Orleans Pelicans
Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings Facundo Campazzo, Argentina, Denver Nuggets
Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers Josh Green, Australia, Dallas Mavericks
Coby White, Chicago Bulls Théo Maledon, France, Oklahoma City Thunder
Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves (Injury Replacement)

Irving (@KyleIrv_): This U.S. Team roster helps paint the picture of just how bright the future of the NBA is.

For starters, this lineup would be terrifying with electrifying and versatile players at every position. The starting backcourt was an easy choice - Morant has still been solid despite suffering a high ankle sprain to start the season, averaging more points, assists and steals than his Rookie of the Year campaign. His backcourt mate is the favourite to succeed that Rookie of the Year trophy, as Ball has looked like every bit of the superstar he was anticipated to be prior to this past NBA Draft.

Can you imagine what the LaMelo to Williamson alley-oops would've been like?

Williamson was a lock for the frontcourt as the only player in this contest that was also selected for the main event on Sunday.

Hunter was the glue that held the Hawks together prior to a knee injury that will keep him out past the All-Star break, but even that doesn't prevent him from getting the nod as a starter. While I selected the high-flying 2020 No. 1 overall pick Edwards as his injury replacement, it would be Spurs promising young forward Johnson who would get rewarded in the starting lineup for playing a key role in helping his team get back into the thick of the Western Conference playoff race.

I rounded out the frontcourt with Porter Jr. because everyone loves buckets, and he can give you a whole lot of them. Speaking of buckets, Herro is the first man off the bench even though he has missed some games this season because when he's in the lineup, he has carried over his momentum from last year's playoff run.

Next, we have Garland, who is coming into his own as Cleveland's floor general, and White, who has proved to be a reliable full-time starter for the Bulls.

Last, but certainly not least, standout rookie Haliburton was an easy choice as a reserve, keeping the pressure on Ball in the Rookie of the Year race.

It was tough to omit last year's selections like sophomores PJ Washington and Kendrick Nunn, as well as other rookies like Saddiq Bey and James Wiseman, but I felt good about the roster assembled that is filled with players that have limitless ceilings as the future stars of the league.

Where I went wrong compared to the actual U.S. Team roster announced: Edwards and Wiseman both made the roster, while White and Garland did not.

I had Edwards as Hunter's injury replacement, which the official roster didn't designate an injury replacement given that there is no real game being played. He and Wiseman, the top two picks in the 2020 NBA Draft, each made the cut over the two sophomores I selected. Nonetheless, the future of the league is in good hands.

McGregor (@GMcGregor21): Looking at how my roster turned out, I'm not mad at all.

With a trio of Canadians and a duo of Wizards, my starting lineup is stacked. In the backcourt, we've got one of the league's premier two-way players in Dort while Barrett is coming into his own in Year 2, leading all second-year international players with averages of 16.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game this season.

Second and third in rebounding among second-year international players? Clarke and Hachimura, who have the above-the-rim athleticism needed to make highlight plays and as former college teammates, give our starting unit an extra layer of chemistry that will help us when it's winning time.

To round out the starting five I wanted to show the rookie class some love, so I went with Avdija, who has had some bright spots this season despite posting numbers (5.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game) that might not jump off of the page. I like Avdija as a starter because at 6-foot-9, he brings size but can also share some playmaking duties with Dort and Barrett.

Deciding upon my second unit wasn't as easy but I knew it would be led by Achiuwa, who is tied for third among all rookies in double-doubles (only two, but still) and Maledon, who has impressed with averages of 9.5 points and 4.0 assists over 14 games as a starter with the Thunder.

It's been a season of ups and downs for Alexander-Walker but I won't overlook his eight double-digit scoring games, including a career-best 37 points against the LA Clippers back in January. And, of course, this is an All-Star showcase, so I had to include Campazzo, who has already had a season's worth of magical passes early on in the year.

Had he not been injured, Killian Hayes would have been a no-brainer but instead, I went with Green, who had early bright spots as a 3-and-D guy for the Mavericks before getting sent to the G League Bubble to get more reps.

Where I went wrong compared to the actual World Team roster announced: I have to say, I'm feeling like Zion or something after going 9-for-10 but I did go wrong in giving Green the nod over Warriors guard Mychal Mulder.

I had a tough time figuring out who to select with the final spot but overlooked Mulder because his numbers are down from last year, coinciding with a reduced role as Golden State is much closer to full strength than it was in 2019-20.

Still, Mulder has scored in double figures five times this season and is shooting an impressive 41.9 percent from 3-point range.

The views on this page do not necessarily represent the views of the NBA or its clubs.

More from NBA.com

#Westbrook
Russ makes NBA history with triple-double vs. OKC
Yash Matange
#Garland
#NBATopShotThis: Garland's full-court dime
Benyam Kidane
Chicago Bulls vs. Boston Celtics in 1986
OTD: MJ drops 63 vs. Celtics in 1986
Yash Matange
#Jokic
Nikola Jokic strengthening hold on MVP
Yash Matange
#Curry
📊 By The Numbers: Curry's 3PT explosion
Benyam Kidane
#Ingles #Nunn #Vucevic
Highlights and top performers from Monday's action
NBA.com Staff
More News