San Antonio Spurs rookie guard Kawhi Leonard and second-year forward Tiago Splitter have been chosen to participate in the NBA Rising Stars Competition February 24 during All-Star Weekend in Orlando.
Joining Splitter from the sophomore class are: DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings), Landry Fields (New York Knicks), Paul George (Indiana Pacers), Blake Griffin (L.A. Clippers), Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz), Greg Monroe (Detroit Pistons), Evan Turner (Philadelphia 76ers) and John Wall (Washington Wizards).
Among fellow rookies with Leonard include MarShon Brooks (New Jersey Nets), Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers), Brandon Knight (Detroit Pistons), Markieff Morris (Phoenix Suns), Ricky Rubio (Minnesota Timberwolves), Tristan Thompson (Cleveland Cavaliers), Kemba Walker (Charlotte Bobcats) and Derrick Williams (Minnesota Timberwolves).
Splitter has shown dramatic improvement this season, averaging 9.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists in 21.1 minutes while shooting a team-best .623 (94-151) from the field. He scored a career-high 25 points Jan. 21 at Houston and has scored in double figures 13 times in his first 26 games compared to 10 times as a rookie.
In 26 games, Leonard is averaging 7.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.12 steals in 23.7 minutes, while shooting .453 (78-172) from the field. Among rookies he ranks 11th in scoring, third in rebounding, fourth in steals and sixth in field goal percentage.
The participants in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge were selected by the NBA’s assistant coaches, with each team submitting one ballot.
A new format is being implemented this year in the game that has historically featured NBA rookies facing off against sophomores. For the first time, rookies and sophomores will be mixed together on teams. TNT analysts Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal will serve as the general managers of the two opposing teams – TEAM CHUCK and TEAM SHAQ. Each will have nine-man rosters, drafted from the pool. TNT’s Kenny Smith will serve as the honorary Commissioner and Ernie Johnson will host the live BBVA Rising Stars Challenge Draft on Thursday, Feb. 16, on NBA TV.
Source: (Spurs Nation)