The Cavaliers made a little history by placing four players in the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star weekend. No other team has ever sent four representatives to the rookie/sophomore game and had one of them also play in the All-Star Game.
The Cavs, thanks to Kyrie Irving, are the first. Seven teams have previously sent three players to the rookie/sophomore game, but none of those ever had an actual All-Star participant, either. (The Cavs had four representatives to the rookie game in 1998, but Derek Anderson was hurt and did not play).
"To me it really shows we're on the right track," coach Byron Scott said. "We've got some good young talent. They're still learning to play together and learning to win. Some are still learning how to be professionals on this level. I'm very proud of all those guys and it's one of those things that makes us feel better about what we're trying to do here."
There was some debate whether Irving would play after his All-Star nomination, but he said Friday he will play in both games. Blake Griffin played in both last season, setting the precedent — and the $25,000 check for the winning team is incentive, too. Irving made $75,000 last year for his performance, $25,000 for winning the game and $50,000 for winning the Most Valuable Player.
Irving and Tristan Thompson were locks, as was Dion Waiters. The wild card was Tyler Zeller, who likely made it because of his work as a starter after replacing Anderson Varejao.
Zeller is averaging 8.3 points and 6.2 rebounds He has produced games of 14, 10 and 12 rebounds in his past five games.
"I knew I had a good chance, but at the same time it's always an honor to be selected," Zeller said. "It's really cool. It shows we're a young team that's building and it's kind of exciting to see what we have here and how much better we've gotten. It's going to be a lot of fun the next few years."
Byron Scott proud of Cavs' Rising Stars
Akron Beacon Journal | Feb 2