One of the most exciting things about the 2015-16 NBA season has been the quality of the young talent coming into the league. Across the lottery teams from last season, the youth injection has given teams a huge boost that will ensure that their future will shine bright.
This year, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, who has won two straight Western Conference Rookie of the Month awards, lead the list of 20 players selected to play in the Rising Stars Challenge on All Star Weekend in Toronto this February.
Eight rookies will make up the numbers as they take to the floor for their first All Star Weekend experience, while a number of sophomores are back for their second shot at All Star Weekend glory. After taking out the battle last year in New York, the World team will head into the 2016 game as favorites with a lineup featuring Wiggins, the Bulls’ Nikola Mirotic and New York’s very own unicorn, Kristaps Porzingis.
Suiting up for the World team in his first All Star Weekend appearance this year is Dallas Mavericks’ forward Dwight Powell. In his second year in the league, Powell has started to settle into his role in Dallas. His rookie season in the league started in Boston, before he found his way to Dallas where he would go on to play 29 games for the Mavericks, as well as taking the floor in two playoffs games. This season, Powell has already established himself as a key part of this Mavericks outfit playing in 45 games, and with his minutes on the court doubling from last season, he has also worked hard to more than double both his points per game, and rebounds since last season.
After being selected to play in the Rising Stars Challenge, Powell said: “It’s definitely an honor to be invited to play, it’s a blessing and I’m looking forward to it.”
With so much talent on the World team, Powell says that he is looking forward to matching up against some of the best young players in the league rather than battling against them. But there is one player in particular that Powell is looking forward to sharing the floor with.
“It will be cool to play with Andrew on that stage. Andrew Wiggins, I played with him since I was a little kid. It will be cool to kinda share that moment with him,” he said.
Powell, who spent four years playing college ball at Stanford University, was back in the Bay Area on Wednesday as the Mavericks took on the defending champion Golden State Warriors. When asked if he enjoys coming back to play in San Francisco, Powell told us, “It’s definitely nice to see some family and friends, it’s always nice to be back in the bay.”
As a young forward coming into the NBA, there are not many better places to end up than Dallas under the guidance of one of the greatest forward to ever play the game – Dirk Nowitzki. The German, who is currently in his 18th season for the Mavericks, is currently leading the team in scoring and after all these years, he is still a major threat every night he takes the floor.
When asked what he has learned from Nowitzki, Powell said, “I mean, he’s taught me more things that I can even talk about. The main thing is his work ethic, he’s in the gym and he stays until he gets his work done. That’s every single day regardless of wins, losses, sick or not, whatever the case may be he shows up to work and is a professional through and through. So that’s probably the biggest things that I’ve picked up from him.”
This All Star Weekend, make the most of your Friday night and tune in to watch the future superstars of the NBA doing battle.
Who do you think will win – the U.S. team, or the World?
Featured Image: Celtics Blog