Irving, Thompson selected to Rising Stars Challenge

Irving, Thompson selected for Rising Stars Challenge
Irving, Thompson selected for Rising Stars Challenge

Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving and forward Tristan Thompson were selected to participate in the Rising Stars Challenge game All-Star Weekend.

Irving, the number one overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, currently leads all rookies in scoring (18.0) and field goal percentage (.492) while ranking second in assists (5.1) and free throw percentage (.830) and third in three-point field goal percentage (.413) in 29.8 minutes per game through 23 games.

The 19-year-old point guard has topped the 20-point mark 11 times and dished out five or more assists in 14 games. He scored a career-best 32 points, including 21 in the fourth quarter, on January 27 against New Jersey.  Two days later, he scored the game-winning layup against Boston.

Thompson, the fourth overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, has played in 18 games for the Cavs this season, averaging 7.1 points on .458 shooting, 4.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks  in 17.3 minutes per game.  Among all rookies, he currently ranks first in the league in offensive rebounds (1.9), third in blocks (1.1) and sixth in total rebounds (4.7) per game.

He came off the bench to score a career-high 16 points and pulled down a career-high nine rebounds (five offensive) in 24 minutes against the Bobcats on January 3.

Thompson also scored a career-high tying 16 points on 6-7 (.857) shooting and added five rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench against Atlanta on January 21.

Irving and Thompson become the first pair of Cavaliers rookies to participate in the rookie challenge since 2003 when Carlos Boozer and Dajuan Wagner represented Cleveland.  They also become the first Cavaliers to be selected to the rookie challenge since 2008 when Daniel Gibson won MVP honors as a sophomore in the game.

Irving and Thompson are joined by fellow first-year players MarShon Brooks (New Jersey Nets), Brandon Knight (Detroit Pistons), Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs), Markieff Morris (Phoenix Suns), Ricky Rubio (Minnesota Timberwolves), Kemba Walker (Charlotte Bobcats), and Derrick Williams (Minnesota Timberwolves).

Making up the sophomore class are DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings), Landry Fields (New York Knicks), Paul George (Indiana Pacers), Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers), Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz), Greg Monroe (Detroit Pistons), Tiago Splitter (San Antonio Spurs), Evan Turner (Philadelphia 76ers), and John Wall (Washington Wizards).