Report: NBA Could Tweak Rookie/Sophomore Game, Include International Players

The NBA might yet again be looking to mix up the format of its annual rookie/sophomore showcase.

The All-Star Weekend event, currently known as the Rising Stars Challenge, has for the past three seasons pitted two mixed teams of first- and second-year players against each other. The game has gone through numerous iterations since its inception as an all-rookie event in 1994, but the basic premise has remained the same.

That could soon change, however, as CSNNE.com’s A. Sherrod Blakely reported Tuesday, citing a league source, that the NBA is considering giving the game an international flavor.

“A league source tells CSNNE.com that the league has given some thought to modifying the rookie/sophomore game to where the league’s top first- and second-year players would join forces to face a team of standout players from overseas,” Blakely wrote.

This proposed system certainly would further the NBA’s desire to expand its global reach, but it would come with the consequence of cutting the pool of NBA players invited in half.

That might not be the worst thing in the world — interest in the event has seemed to have waned in recent years — but it likely would hurt the Boston Celtics’ chances of sending a representative. The two Celtics with the best chances to play in this season’s showcase, rookie Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk, probably would not make the cut under the proposed format.

Dan Feldman of ProBasketballTalk also proposes the intriguing idea of having a team of rookies square off against D-League All-Stars, which he argues would result in a more competitive game. That squad this year could include Celtics rookie point guard Tim Frazier, who twice has earned D-League Performer of the Week honors with the Maine Red Claws.

Olynyk and Jared Sullinger both competed in last season’s Rising Stars Challenge — the first Boston players to do so since Rajon Rondo in 2008.

Thumbnail photo via Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports Images

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