The Bulls hope Joakim Noah is one of the reserves named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team when the list is revealed tomorrow night. Noah should make the team, but if he does he won't be joined in New Orleans by Tony Snell. The Bulls' rookie was left off the Rookie roster for the Rising Stars Challenge, which will take place Friday, Feb. 14 to begin the All-Star festivities.
Snell has appeared in 39 games for the Bulls, averaging 5.7 points on 38 percent shooting and 1.0 3-pointers per game. He's been slightly better since the Bulls traded Luol Deng -- freeing up minutes on the wing -- averaging 7.0 points on 39.5 percent shooting, 1.4 3-pointers and 2.8 rebounds in better than 22 minutes. If there were to be an argument for who Snell should have made the team over, Nets reserve center Mason Plumlee is averaging 5.6 points and 3.0 rebounds in 15 minutes per game.
For the first time in All-Star Weekend history, the Rising Stars Challenge participants, selected by the NBA's assistant coaches, will be grouped into one pool, and a draft will take place on Feb. 6 to determine the teams. That's probably a good thing, considering how loaded the sophomore team would be. That sophomore team includes standouts Bradley Beal, Andre Drummond, Damian Lillard, Terrence Jones and Anthony Davis.
Just five Lottery picks -- Victor Oladipo, Trey Burke, Michael Carter-Williams, Steven Adams, Kelly Olynyk -- from this year's draft class made the game (meaning nine did not), and only one of the first eight picks (Burke) made the game. First overall pick Anthony Bennett was the first top pick not to make the game since Kwame Brown in 2001. Bennett has been a major bust in his first year in Cleveland, averaging just 2.8 points and 2.4 rebounds in 10.8 minutes per game -- and he's appeared in only 33 games.
Taj Gibson was the last member of the Bulls to represent Chicago in the game, playing for the sophomores in 2011. Gibson (then a rookie) faced off against Derrick Rose (sophomore) in 2010, and Rose appeared as a rookie in 2009. Elton Brand (2000, rookie; 2001, sophomore), Khaled El-Amin (2001, rookie), Marcus Fizer (2002, sophomore), Jay Williams (2003, rookie), Tyson Chandler (2004, sophomore), Kirk Hinrich (2004, rookie; 2005, sophomore), Luol Deng (2005, rookie; 2006, sophomore), Ben Gordon (2006, sophomore) and Andres Nocioni (2006, sophomore) also have all represented the Bulls in the game. Toni Kukoc was the first Bull to participate in the event, playing as a rookie in 1994.
Here's a full list of this year's participants:
Steven Adams, C, Oklahoma City Thunder
Giannis Antetokounpo, F, Milwaukee Bucks
Pero Antic, C, Atlanta Hawks
Trey Burke, G, Utah Jazz
Michael Carter-Williams, G, Philadelphia 76ers
Tim Hardaway Jr., G, New York Knicks
Victor Oladipo, G, Orlando Magic
Kelly Olynyk, C, Boston Celtics
Mason Plumlee, C, Brooklyn Nets
Harrison Barnes, F, Golden State Warriors
Bradley Beal, G, Washington Wizards
Anthony Davis, F, New Orleans Hornets
Andre Drummond, C, Detroit Pistons
Terrence Jones, F, Houston Rockets
Damian Lillard, G, Portland Trail Blazers
Jared Sullinger, F, Boston Celtics
Jonas Valanciunas, F, Toronto Raptors
Dion Waiters, G, Cleveland Cavaliers