Timberwolves tandem set to compete in Rising Stars Challenge
On Friday night, the best rookies, sophomores, and G League prospects come together for the annual Rising Stars event at NBA All-Star Weekend.This year, that means a mini-tournament, with four teams consisting of seven players each.
Edwards ranks No. 20 in the NBA in scoring with 22.2 points per game and recently became the fourth-youngest player in league history to reach 2,500 career points.
The University of Georgia product has been a major factor in the Timberwolves resurgence, a pair of single-digit scoring efforts and a freshly-sprained ankle just prior to the break notwithstanding.
McDaniels was selected with the No. 28 pick in the same draft as Edwards, and has flashed potential of being a disruptive defender and athletic slasher. The 6-foot-9 forward is averaging 8.7 points and 4.2 rebounds over 26.2 minutes per game.
With a slight bump in playing time of late, McDaniels has scored 10.8 points on 36.4 percent from 3-point range in eight games this month. He is No. 6 on the team in minutes and has started 24 games in his second season in Minnesota, but his best minutes have come as a significant contributor off the bench.
The event’s new twist is that there will be a bracket with four teams of seven players, taking the place of the traditional game with two 12-man rosters. Each team will consist of six rookie or sophomore NBA players, plus one G-League Ignite prospect.
The four coaches, each of whom drafted their own team from a pool of players, are Hall of Famers Rick Barry, Gary Payton, Isiah Thomas and James Worthy.
Edwards was taken with the No. 1 pick by Team Isiah in the Rising Stars draft in early February and is expected to be a starter in the opening game. He will play alongside fellow sophomores Tyrese Haliburton, Precious Achiuwa, Desmond Bane, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart, and Ignite 2022 prospect Jaden Hardy.
McDaniels will participate on Team Payton with first-time All-Star LaMelo Ball, rookies Scottie Barnes, Ayo Dosunmu, Jonathan Kuminga and Davion Mitchell, and 18-year-old Ignite guard Scoot Henderson.
Team Barry is headlined by a trio of 2021 lottery picks Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley and Franz Wagner, while Team Worthy has rookie guards Josh Giddey and Jalen Green, and Magic teammates Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs. MarJon Beauchamp and Dyson Daniels are the two other G-League players set to take the court.
The semifinal games, which have a final target score of 50 points, will get started at 8 p.m. on TNT as Team Isiah takes on Team Worthy and will be followed with tip-off between Team Barry and Team Payton. Edwards and McDaniels could meet in the finals if their respective teams advance. The championship game will be played up to 25 points.
Both Timberwolves representatives are more than capable of getting out in transition and showing off their impressive athleticism. It should be an entertaining tournament as the Rising Stars Game gets a fresh look in Cleveland — and both Wolves players should have a legitimate shot at claiming the MVP award if their respective team emerges victorious.