Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters has been selected to play in the 2014 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, the NBA announced today. The sophomore guard is the lone representative for the Cavaliers this year – a year after they had four players participate. The team is selected by the NBA’s assistant coaches, with each team getting one ballot.
Since moving to the bench full time in November, Waiters is the highest scoring bench player in the Eastern Conference, averaging 14.5 points per game. For the season, the Syracuse product is averaging 14.3 points per game on 41.2 percent shooting from the field.
The other Cavaliers eligible to be selected were rookies Anthony Bennett, Matthew Dellavedova and Sergey Karasev, as well as sophomore center Tyler Zeller. Zeller’s not being on the team is a tad surprising, as the former ACC Player of the Year is having a better season than he did as a rookie. His PPG average is down, but he shooting better from the field and rebounding better. Since Andrew Bynum was removed the team (and then traded away), Zeller has become one of the better parts of the Cavaliers bench.
What may have been working against Zeller is that several other centers were selected to participate. They are Jared Sullinger of the Boston Celtics, Jonas Valanciunas of the Toronto Raptors, Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons, Mason Plumelee of the Brooklyn Nets and Steven Adams of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The other notable Cavalier not selected was, of course, Bennett. The top overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft has been historically bad as a rookie and does not at all deserve an invite. For the season, Bennett is averaging 2.8 PPG, 2.4 RPG and has a Player Efficiently Rating (PER) of 2.33.
The teams – coached the assistant coaches from the Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder – The Rising Stars Challenge takes place Friday, Feb. 14 at 9 p.m. ET and will air on TNT. The teams will be drafted on Thursday, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. ET. After the teams are selected, fans will vote to decide the starting lineup for each team.