The Orlando Magic’s starting backcourt will get to flex their muscles for Team U.S.A. in the new format for the annual Rookie Game.
Orlando Magic guards Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton will be heading to Brooklyn to compete in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge on Feb. 13 to kick off NBA All-Star Weekend. It will be the third straight year the Magic will have had players participating in the annual showcase of rookies and sophomores. Nikola Vucevic, Andrew Nicholson and Victor Oladipo participated in each of the past two years.
Oladipo was no surprise as the No. 2 overall pick of the 2013 Draft has blossomed into a solid all-around player in just his second season. He is averaging 16.5 points per game and shooting a much improved 45.9 percent from the floor this season. His turnovers are way down too and he looks more in control on the offensive end.
It has helped having the ball out of his hands of late which can be partially thanks to the presence of his Team USA teammate Elfrid Payton.
The 10th overall pick from the 2014 Draft has quickly taken over as the Magic’s starting point guard while averaging 7.8 points and 5.8 assists per game. Payton has taken over games with his superb dribbling ability and ability to get out in transition and attack the basket. His shot still needs development, but Payton’s career is off to a strong start.
The Magic clearly have a very strong backcourt to build from.
On to this game though, it will be a different challenge.
For the first time, the Rising Stars Challenge will pit the best rookies and sophomores from the United States against those from around the World. Joining Oladipo on Payton are such luminaries as 2013 Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams, Oladipo’s fellow former Hoosier Cody Zeller and another former Big Ten guard in Trey Burke. Zach LaVine and Nerlens Noel were the other two rookies selected to the U.S. squad.
The World squad is highlighted by first overall pick Andrew Wiggins, Greek sophomore sensation Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bulls super sub Nikola Mirotic. The U.S. team will be coached by Warriors assistant Alvin Gentry.
The game will take place at Barclays Center on Feb. 13 at 9 p.m. on TNT. It usually devolves into a dunk fest so expect a lot of assists from Payton and a lot of chances for Oladipo to strut his stuff attacking the basket.
He may not want to go too hard. This All-Star Weekend will be a busy weekend for Oladipo. Oladipo will compete in the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest the following evening at Barclays Center against fellow Rising Stars competitors Antetokounmpo, Mason Plumlee and Zach LaVine.