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Joel Embiid and Lonzo Ball headline Rising Stars rosters, but only one should

Lonzo Ball, Joel Embiid

Los Angeles Lakers Lonzo Ball, left, reacts as Philadelphia 76ers Joel Embiid, of Cameroon, right, knocks the ball away from himduring the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, in Philadelphia. The Lakers won 107-104. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)


Joel Embiid is keenly aware people will eventually grow tired of him.

This oversaturation will contribute.

In his second season with the 76ers, Embiid is a – deserving – All-Star starter. He’s a very good player and a known commodity. He’ll be celebrated during the main even of All-Star weekend Sunday.

And also in a sideshow Friday.

The NBA released rosters for the Rising Stars Challenge, with rookies and sophomores divided into teams by nationality:


  • Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  • Lonzo Ball (Lakers)
  • Kris Dunn (Bulls)
  • Malcolm Brogdon (Bucks)
  • Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
  • Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  • Brandon Ingram (Lakers)
  • Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  • Dennis Smith Jr. (Mavericks)
  • John Collins (Hawks)


  • Bogdan Bogdanovic (Kings)
  • Dillon Brooks (Grizzlies)
  • Joel Embiid (76ers)
  • Buddy Hield (Kings)
  • Lauri Markkanen (Bulls
  • Jamal Murray (Nuggets)
  • Frank Ntilikina (Knicks)
  • Domantas Sabonis (Pacers)
  • Dario Saric (76ers)
  • Ben Simmons (76ers)
NBA release:

The NBA’s assistant coaches chose the rosters … 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…Rising Stars will be the lead assistant coaches from the 2018 NBA All-Star Game coaching staffs.

I renew my annual plea to exclude sophomores. They’re too established to draw interest in this exhibition simply by playing, and, for the same reason, they don’t care enough to compete entertainingly.

There’s still mystery about many rookies barely more than halfway into their first season, and that would draw interest. People would prefer to see more of players like De’Aaron Fox, Milos Teodosic, Jonathan Isaac, Bam Adebayo, Jordan Bell and Josh Jackson – who all got squeezed out for second-year players.

My dismay with the format is even stronger this year, with such an impressive rookie class. It’s a wasted opportunity for the league.

But if you want to see Embiid care even less than he will during the All-Star game, tune in Feb. 16.