With NBA All-Star weekend next month, we take an early look at some Houston Rockets that should be asked to participate in the festivities.
As the new year has come and gone, now is when the NBA season starts to pick up even more in excitement. Several players become trade-eligible on January 15, the trade deadline hits on February 6 and All-Star weekend kicks off on February 14. Time will tell if the Houston Rockets will be involved in the trade market, but they should be heavily represented in Chicago when All-Star events begin next month.
When it comes to the actual All-Star Game, it’s a no-brainer that James Harden and Russell Westbrook should be representing H-Town next month. Both are guiding the Rockets to one of the best records in the Western Conference and, barring a sudden collapse over the next few weeks, that should still be the case come mid-February.
There are also some lesser-known Rockets that should be considered for other All-Star events, however, starting with the international showdown that kicks things off.
NBA Rising Stars Challenge
The NBA Rising Stars Challenge has gone through several phases since it was established as solely a rookie game in 1994, including Eastern versus Western Conference, rookies versus sophomores and even (unfortunately) random teams drafted by Chris Webber and Grant Hill.
The latest iteration is far-and-away the best, though, as it pits first and second-year players from the United States against the rest of the world to showcase the league’s strong international talent.
Despite Mike D’Antoni‘s shortened rotation, he’s given enough run to a few guys that should be considered for the thrilling exhibition match:
Gary Clark (Team USA)
The North Carolina-born Gary Clark would be an intriguing addition as a sophomore to the United States team. On a loaded Rockets team, he hasn’t quite been able to average enough time to really show his skills, but rest assured, they’re there. Clark is averaging 11.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per 36 minutes for Houston and has already proven to be one of the best defenders on the team.
Of course, much like the All-Star Game, there’s hardly an emphasis on defense in the Rising Stars Challenge. Luckily, Clark has shown that he’s capable of knocking down the longball as well. With the way the league is trending, I have a feeling a record in 3-point attempts is looming for this game, and Clark would love nothing more but to join in on the fun.
Next: Rising Stars, continued