NEW YORK – NBA All-Star Game starter Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers headlines the list of 20 players selected by the league’s assistant coaches to play in the 2018 Mtn Dew Kickstart Rising Stars on Friday, Feb. 16 (9 p.m. ET) at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Dario Saric and Ben Simmons join Embiid to give the 76ers three players in Rising Stars, tied for the most among any team. The Los Angeles Lakers also earned three selections, with Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma set to play at their home arena. The game will air on TNT and ESPN Radio.
For the fourth consecutive year, the league’s annual showcase of premier young talent during NBA All-Star will pit 10 first- and second-year NBA players from the U.S. against 10 first- and second-year NBA players from around the world. The 24th Rising Stars is the first with Mtn Dew Kickstart as title partner, with the brand expanding the event into a yearlong platform showcasing up-and-coming NBA players. Tickets for the Mtn Dew Kickstart Rising Stars and the Rising Stars Practice at Verizon Up Arena at the Los Angeles Convention Center on the morning of the game are available at NBATickets.com.
The three Philadelphia players will compete for the World Team. Joining Embiid (Cameroon), Simmons (Australia) and Saric (Croatia) are the Sacramento Kings’ Bogdan Bogdanovic (Serbia) and Buddy Hield (Bahamas), the Memphis Grizzlies’ Dillon Brooks (Canada), the Chicago Bulls’ Lauri Markkanen (Finland), the Denver Nuggets’ Jamal Murray (Canada), the New York Knicks’ Frank Ntilikina (France) and the Indiana Pacers’ Domantas Sabonis (Lithuania).
In addition to Ball, Ingram and Kuzma, the U.S. Team features reigning Kia NBA Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon of the Milwaukee Bucks, the Boston Celtics’ Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, the Atlanta Hawks’ John Collins, the Bulls’ Kris Dunn, the Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell and the Dallas Mavericks’ Dennis Smith Jr.
Roster highlights include:
• The World Team’s 10 players hail from nine different countries.
• Embiid, who will make his NBA All-Star Game debut in his second season, leads all first- and second-year NBA players in scoring (23.8 ppg), rebounding (11.0 rpg) and blocked shots (1.88 bpg). He is set to become the first 76ers player to start an All-Star Game since Allen Iverson in 2006.
• Simmons, the Kia NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for October/November, is on pace to become the first rookie to average at least 16.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists in a season since Magic Johnson in 1979-80.
• Chicago’s Markkanen (15.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg) is the fastest player to 100 career three-pointers in NBA history (41 games).
• Denver’s Murray was the MVP of last year’s Mtn Dew Kickstart Rising Stars, finishing with game
highs of 36 points and 11 assists to lift the World Team past the U.S. Team 150-141. This season,
Murray has increased his scoring average to 16.2 points from 9.9 as a rookie.
• Kuzma, the 27th pick in the NBA Draft 2017 presented by State Farm and the Kia NBA Western
Conference Rookie of the Month for October/November, leads the Lakers in scoring with 16.7 points
per game. The last rookie to lead the team in scoring in a season was the Minneapolis Lakers’ Elgin
Baylor in 1958-59.
• Utah’s Mitchell, who earned the Kia NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month award for
December, is averaging a team-high and rookie-best 19.2 points. The Jazz has never had a rookie lead
the team in scoring for a season.
• Boston’s Brown (14.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Tatum (13.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg), the Kia NBA Eastern Conference
Rookie of the Month for December, have started all season for the East-leading Celtics.
• Chicago’s Dunn ranks third in the NBA in steals (2.05 spg), leads all second-year players in assists
(6.4 apg) and has raised his scoring average nearly 10 points from last season (3.8 to 13.7 ppg).
• Simmons (four), Ball (two) and Dallas’ Smith (one) have combined for seven triple-doubles, which is
one more than produced by rookies in the previous five seasons combined.
• The World Team features five players who participated as campers in Basketball without Borders
(BWB), the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and community outreach program: Embiid
(BWB Africa 2011), Markkanen (BWB Europe 2014; BWB Global 2015), Murray (BWB Global 2015),
Ntilikina (BWB Europe 2015; BWB Global 2016) and Saric (BWB Europe 2010).
The NBA’s assistant coaches chose the rosters for the Mtn Dew Kickstart Rising Stars, with each of the
league’s 30 teams submitting one ballot per coaching staff. Coaches selected four guards, four
frontcourt players and two players at either position group for each team. They also picked a minimum
of three first-year NBA players and three second-year NBA players for each team.
The head coaches for the Mtn Dew Kickstart Rising Stars will be the lead assistant coaches from the
2018 NBA All-Star Game coaching staffs. The All-Star coaching staffs are determined by the best
record in each conference through games played on Sunday, Feb. 4 among teams with eligible head
coaches. Boston head coach Brad Stevens and Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr are
ineligible to coach in the NBA All-Star Game because they did so last year.
NBA opening-night rosters for the 2017-18 season featured 108 international players from a record 42
countries and territories. This marked the fourth consecutive season that opening-night rosters included
at least 100 international players and that all 30 teams had at least one international player.