By Marquis Cooley | Reporter
NBA All-Star weekend concluded on Sunday, and despite a pandemic, the NBA was able to fit the majority of the events into one jam-packed night. As the league begins to look toward the 2022 NBA All-Star weekend in Cleveland, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, with the help of the National Basketball Player Association, will strive to improve the weekend as they have in years past. While a lot of the changes have been quite entertaining, such as team captains and the fourth quarter target score in the All-Star game, others haven’t been as successful — the Rising Stars game being the perfect example.
Although the Rising Stars game wasn’t played this year, the NBA released the names of the players that would’ve been invited and with it revealed why the NBA needs to ditch the Team USA vs. Team World format. The Rising Stars game is a chance for the best first and second year players in the league to showcase their skills on a national stage and acknowledge them for their early success in the league, but when 29-year-old third-string point guards like Facundo Campazzo are making it over starters whose average triple their stats, there’s a problem.
The concept was interesting and entertaining at first, when current NBA stars like Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic were playing for Team World to make things more balanced, but for the past three years, the Team USA rosters has been filled with much better players than Team World, which has been proven by Team USA winning in both 2019 and 2020 by over 20 points.
This year, it was clearer than ever that there is a disparity in talent between the two teams. Team USA struggled to decide who belonged on the roster, whereas Team World had an issue of finding eligible players.
In order to make the game more competitive and fun to watch, they should pick the 20 best eligible players, regardless of nationality, and select the best rookie from each conference as team captains, similar to the All-Star game. This would give it the same excitement the All-Star game currently has in terms of speculating who will play on what team. Most of the NBA rookies either played against each other or on the same team growing up, such as Zion Willamson and Ja Morant playing on the same 8th-grade team, so it would be fun witnessing former teammates reunite.
The problem with the Rising Stars game is not the talent; there’s more exciting young prospects in the league now than ever before. The problem is that the current format isn’t allowing fans to truly witness the best of the league’s brightest young stars.