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Cleveland Cavaliers Have Four Players in Rising Stars Challenge Pool

January 30th, 2013 at 6:33 PM
By Pat Murphy

'Dion Waiters Free Throw' photo (c) 2012, Erik Drost - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ Last week it was announced that Kyrie Irving was going to represent the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2013 NBA All-Star game. It was announced today that he will have company when he flies out to Houston for the weekend.

Second-year man Tristan Thompson, along with rookies Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller, will be heading to All-Star weekend as participants in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge. Irving, who was the MVP of the game last year, will also be in the game.

This is the second year for this event, which replaced the Rookie-Sophomore game and now allows for the first and second-year players to compete together. The pool of players is put together by the league and then teams are drafted by Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal. This draft will take place on February 7.

It is little surprise that any of these four were picked to play in the game, as they have all been starters much of the season and Irving and Thompson were key players in last year's event.

Irving is leading all point guards in scoring this year with 23.9 points per game, 5.5 assists, and 3.6 rebounds. As a regular All Star, he likely will not play much so another Cavalier may have to step up to keep the MVP award in Cleveland.

Thompson – who last year led Team Shaq in scoring with 20 points – is having a fine sophomore campaign as he continues to develop for Cleveland. He is averaging 11 points and just over nine rebounds a night at the power forward slot.

Tyler Zeller, who the Cavaliers traded for during the NBA Draft, has been thrust into the starting center position with the season-ending injury to Anderson Varejao. While he has not blown anyone away with his play, he has continued to be solid for Cleveland, posting 8.3 points and 6.2 rebounds a game. He is a player the Cavaliers are excited about for the future and happy he is doing as well as he is with more playing time than was expected.

Waiters was Cleveland's top pick in this year's draft and has done well for himself in his first year in the league. He has had some great nights for the Cavaliers this season, but mostly has been as steady as they would have liked from the rookie guard from Syracuse. He is averaging 14.5 points per game and contributing just over three assists each night.

The complete list of the player pool that was selected can be found at NBA.com.

Cleveland fans will be happy their young players are representing their team at the All-Star event. As always though, everyone will hope it will just be fun and no one returns with an injury that could slow their development the rest of the way.

Tags: Anderson Varejao, Basketball, Charles Barkley, Cleveland, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dion Waiters, Kyrie Irving, NBA, Shaquille O'Neal, Tristan Thompson, Tyler Zeller

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