Kuzma takes home MVP after dominant Rising Stars Challenge performance

The present day NBA, now more than ever, is littered with young star talent. One night each year, all the best first and second year players gather on one court to show off their skills in the Rising Stars Challenge.

This year’s edition did not disappoint.

In year number five of the USA vs. World format, Team USA got the victory, 161-144, over Team World, led by 35 points from Most Valuable Player, Kyle Kuzma. Kuzma hit 10 three-pointers and hoisted a game-high 27 field goal attempts en route to snagging the hardware.

“There was a lot of great players out there, All-Stars, we’re all young rising stars in this league,” Kuzma said. “Obviously it’s an exhibition, but it’s always better to have bragging rights whenever you can.”

Both sides were littered with up and coming talent, with Team World featuring reigning Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons, as well as the probable Rookie of the Year for this season, Luka Doncic. For Team USA, their roster featured the likes of Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz and Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics.

Tatum was another Team USA member who showed out on Friday night, dropping 30 points in the win. Atlanta Hawks rookie Trae Young nearly notched a triple double in the game, dropping 25 points while dishing out 10 assists and grabbing seven boards.

However, even Young was quick to turn his attention towards Kuzma’s performance.

“[Kuzma] was doing what he’s really good at, and that’s shooting the ball and scoring the ball,” said Young. “I mean, that’s what he does, so he definitely showed out tonight and put on a show.”

This was the 25th installment of the Rising Stars Challenge, originally dubbed the Rookie Challenge at its inception back in 1994. The game initially featured just rookies, however after the 1999 NBA Lockout canceled All-Star Weekend, the league allowed second-year players in the game. A team comprised of rookies and another team comprised of sophomores was the original format of the game, until 2012 when the league brought in former NBA greats to draft teams.

The new format of Team USA vs. Team World seems to be working, allowing for the teams to be mixed with a combination of rookies and second-year players as well.

In February of next year, the NBA All-Star Weekend will be held at United Center in Chicago, Illinois.