The NBA today announced that Minnesota Timberwolves rookies Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins, along with sophomores Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad will represent the team in the 2015 BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge. Dieng and Wiggins will team up on the World Team, while LaVine and Muhammad will suit up for the U.S. Team. The Wolves are the first team in league history to have four players participate since the event’s inception in 1994 (established as “Rookie Challenge”).
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Wiggins leads all NBA rookies in scoring (15.2 ppg) and ranks 3rd in steals (1.11 spg) and 5th in rebounding (4.3 rpg). He’s tallied a rookie-high 15 20+ point outings, including recording a franchise-rookie-record six straight earlier this season. He scored a season-high 31 points at Denver on Jan. 17, the most points by a Wolves rookie since Stephon Marbury in 1996 and just the third game of 30+ points by a Wolves teenager. He’s averaging 19.8 points on 47.5% shooting over his last 18 contests.
Dieng leads all eligible World players in rebounds (8.6 rpg) while ranking 2nd in blocks (1.8 bpg), T-3rd in assists (2.3 apg) and 4th in points (9.8 ppg). Dieng has tallied a team-high 11 double-doubles this season, including recording five in January alone. He scored a career-high 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds vs. Denver on Jan. 5, his fourth career 20+ point, 10+ rebound outing.
LaVine, the No. 13 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, is averaging 8.0 points, 3.4 assists and 22.8 minutes in 41 games (21 starts). He scored a season-high 28 points in a win at the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 28 and dished out a season-high 14 assists Dec. 27 at Golden State.
Muhammad leads all eligible U.S. players in points/48 (28.3) while ranking 3rd in both scoring (13.7 ppg) and field goal percentage (48.8%). His 9.8 point per game improvement from last season is the biggest individual increase for a player this season. He’s tallied 20+ points in eight of his last 21 outings, averaging 17.4 points on 49.3% shooting and 4.9 rebounds in 29.0 minutes per game during those contests. He scored a career-high 30 points at Utah on Dec. 30, connecting on a career-high five three-pointers.
This season the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge at NBA All-Star 2015 in New York City will feature a new format that pits first- and second-year NBA players from the United States against first- and second-year NBA players from around the world.
The NBA’s annual showcase of premier first- and second-year players is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 13, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. TNT will televise the 21st BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge at 9 p.m. ET as part of Turner Sports’ 30th year of NBA All-Star coverage. BBVA Compass is the official bank of the NBA in the United States and maintains its role as title partner for the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge.