Rising Stars Challenge pits USA vs. World in new format

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Jan 7, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Nerlens Noel (4) defends against Milwaukee Bucks guard Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Step aside, LeBron James. Move over, Kevin Durant.

The future of the NBA will be on the national stage tonight in Brooklyn for this year’s BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge. The contest features the most exciting first and second-year players the league has to offer and the 2015 edition presents a brand new format with the United States taking on the World.

As opposed to the former breakdown of rookies against sophomores (which recently turned into a fantasy draft between two retired players), the teams are divided into two groups of 10 based on whether they are American natives or were born elsewhere.

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the NBA is solidifying itself as a young man’s game and it’s a fair argument to say that the top 10 players in the league are all 30 years old or younger (James turned 30 in December). The growing amount of European players and the commissioner’s efforts to expand global relations also speaks to the challenge’s format alteration.

While tonight’s game doesn’t count in the standings, it should be a thrilling event that showcases what NBA fans have to look forward to over the next 10 to 15 seasons. Let’s take a look at the rosters and then I’ll reveal some of the players I’m looking forward to seeing in action the most.

U.S. Team Roster  *injured, will not play in game; **replacement

Head Coach: Alvin Gentry (Suns)

World Team Roster

Head Coach: Kenny Atkinson, Hawks

Scroll to the right for tonight’s players to watch…

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