INDEPENDENCE: The Cavaliers will send four representatives to the Rising Stars Challenge, the first time in the history of the event a team will send four players to the rookie/sophomore challenge.
Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller were all chosen to play in the exhibition game on Friday night of All-Star weekend. As of now, Irving is expected to play despite also participating in Sunday’s actual All-Star Game.
“We’re very proud of Kyrie, Tristan, Dion and Tyler and the efforts they are putting in to earn this kind of recognition,” Cavs General Manager Chris Grant said in a news release. “Internal growth with our young core is very important to us and this is a good reflection of their development. It is also great they will be able to experience this special All-Star weekend together and we look forward to seeing their continued hard work and progress.”
Irving is averaging 23.9 points and 5.5 assists and has a shot at starting in Sunday’s All-Star Game. Thompson is averaging 11 points and 9.3 rebounds, but is averaging 14.2 points and 11.2 rebounds in his last 21 games — one quarter of the season.
Irving was named Most Valuable Player for Team Chuck last season, scoring 34 points and making all eight of his 3-point attempts. Thompson scored 20 points to lead Team Shaq.
Waiters is averaging 14.5 points, second among rookies, while Zeller is ninth in scoring (8.6 points) and third in rebounds (6.2).
A number of teams have sent three representatives to the game, most recently the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2009, but never has a team sent four since the game’s creation in 1994. It was initially a rookie game, then the sophomores were included beginning in 2000.
Joining Irving and Thompson from the sophomore class are: Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets), Brandon Knight (Detroit Pistons), Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs), Chandler Parsons (Houston Rockets), Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors), Nikola Vucevic (Orlando Magic) and Kemba Walker (Charlotte Bobcats).
Top overall pick Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Hornets leads a rookie class that includes Waiters and Zeller, Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Harrison Barnes (Warriors), Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards), Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Bobcats) and Alexey Shved (Minnesota Timberwolves).
Cavs coach Byron Scott will leave the starting lineup intact for the time being, he said. That means Waiters remains a starter and C.J. Miles remains a reserve. … The Cavs optioned Kevin Jones to their Development League affiliate in Canton.
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