This is foreign territory for me as a Lakers’ fan. I cannot recall the last Laker to participate in the “Rising Stars Challenge” even when it was the Rookie/Sophomore game. Last year Jordan Clarkson did not breakout until after the all-star game and, of course, Julius Randle was lost in the 1st game of the season. Randle isn’t here this year — I’m not going to vent about this, but the format of Team USA vs. Team World probably kept several American born players out of this game who are deserving, Randle included — but Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell are.
The Lakers “backcourt of the future” will team up with the likes of Karl Anthony-Towns, Marcus Smart, Zach Lavine, Jahlil Okafor, and several others to play against some a World team featuring Kristaps Porzingis, Andrew Wiggins, Mario Henzoja, and others. The game promises to offer tons of highlights, a bunch of sloppy play, and about as much intensity as a Saturday pickup game with a bunch of dudes bumping Drake while warming up.
In other words, this game is worth your time, but in a “I’m going to have this on as background noise while I do something else” sort of way. Yeah, I’ll ooh and ahh when a nice dunk happens (and with LaVine in this game, we’ll get a couple of those) and hopefully we get a duel between some of these guys, but you really can’t take much from this game. It’s basically guys trying to get on SportsCenter’s Top 10 while the coaches try to coax them into trying harder.
Still, though, it will be nice to see a couple of young Lakers’ in this game. Clarkson and Russell are both more than worthy and they will finally get some burn in a game where they aren’t running the Princeton Offense. Seeing them with Towns, Booker (who I really like), and the rest of these kids should be fun.
Maybe this game is worth paying close attention to after all…
Where you can watch: 6:00pm start time on TNT.