The Rookie Challenge teams have been announced for the 2011 NBA All Star Game. These rookie and sophomore team rosters will play against each other on Friday, Feb. 18, with both teams hoping they can leave the court with bragging rights. Last year, the rookies surprised the world by winning the Rookie Challenge, led in part by point guard Tyreke Evans from the Sacramento Kings, who won the MVP award.
Glancing at the rosters, it is pretty obvious that this could turn into a really good game. The sophomore team roster looks like it could pose a nice threat to the rookie team, but this is another year where the rookies might actually have a great chance at winning this game.
Starting with the sophomore team roster, they have DeJuan Blair of the San Antonio Spurs as the likely starting center. From there it will be up to the coaches to determine if this team is going to be working with its speed or defense at the beginning. The presumed forwards are Taj Gibson of the Chicago Bulls and Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder, with Wesley Matthews of the Portland Trail Blazers also a viable option.
Finishing out the sophomore team are guards Evans, DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, Jrue Holiday of the Philadelphia 76ers, and Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks. It is good to see that Jennings is part of the roster, even though he had to pull out of the 2011 Slam Dunk Competition as he recovered from a broken foot.
The rookie team roster is not quite as deep, but the starting five looks like it could actually compete with most teams around the NBA right now. While the coaches could decide to go in a different direction, it seems likely that the starting five will consist of center DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings, power forward Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers, point guard John Wall of the Washington Wizards, and guard Landry Fields of the New York Knicks. From there it could be a tough choice for the other starter.
The rest of the rookie roster consists of power forward Derrick Favors of the New Jersey Nets, guard Eric Bledsoe of the Los Angeles Clippers, guard Wesley Johnson of the Minnesota Timberwolves, center Greg Monroe of the Detroit Pistons, and guard Gary Neal of the San Antonio Spurs. They could either decide to put a big guy at small forward (like Griffin or Favors), or decide to slide Fields over to the position and start another one of their guards in his starting shooting guard slot.
It certainly looks like the 2011 All Star Rookie Challenge is going to be a good one, and it will provide true entertainment during the Friday night festivities. Game time is 6 p.m. PST / 9 p.m. EST on TNT.
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