In an attempt by the NBA to spice up one of its All-Star Weekend events — and give the prospects on its G League Ignite team another opportunity to showcase themselves — the league announced significant changes to its Rising Stars Challenge.
The annual game between top rookies and sophomores in the league, which takes place on Friday night of All-Star Weekend each year, will have an entirely new format next month in Cleveland. Rather than two teams evenly split between rookies and sophomores, as had been the case, there will now be four seven-man teams, made up of a combination of 12 rookies, 12 sophomores and, for the first time, four G League Ignite players.
The rookies and sophomores will be selected by NBA assistant coaches, while the four G League Ignite players will be selected by G League head coaches.
The teams will be coached by members of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team, along with assistant coaches from the coaching staffs selected to coach this year’s All-Star Game, with those coaches drafting their seven-man rosters — which will each include one G League Ignite player.
Each game will be played to a set score rather than on a timer. There will be three games played: two semifinals, with the winners then playing in a championship game.
Using the NBA’s 75th Anniversary theme, the semifinals will be played to a target score of 50, and the championship game will go to 25.
The Ignite, which features players who jumped straight from high school for a year before entering the NBA draft, have several high-profile prospects this season, including Jaden Hardy, currently ranked 10th among 2022 NBA draft prospects by ESPN, and Dyson Daniels, who is ranked 19th. In addition, Scoot Henderson is currently the No. 2 prospect in ESPN’s 2023 draft rankings.
Last year was the first time players played for the Ignite and then entered the NBA draft, with Jalen Green going second overall to the Houston Rockets after taking that path to the league.
There will also be a shooting competition in between the semifinals and finals, with each shooting location being tied to an iconic shot made during the NBA playoffs. There will be four teams of two competing in a timed trial to make the shots as fast as possible.
All-Star Weekend is Feb. 18-20 in Cleveland, with this game highlighting its Friday night lineup, followed by the typical Saturday night festivities — the skills challenge, 3-point contest and slam dunk contest — and the game itself on Sunday.