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Game Preview: Booker, Chriss set to represent Suns for BBVA Rising Stars Challenge

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Get ready for the Rising Stars Challenge with a walk down memory lane, from Plumbledore to Matrix

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NBA: Detroit Pistons at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

What: BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge

Who: Devin Booker and Marquese Chriss rep the Phoenix Suns on US Team

When: 7:00 PM AZ Time

Where: Nawlins! All-Star Weekend

Watch: TNT


For the first time since the mid-90s featured a couple of our local rookies, two Phoenix Suns have been invited to participant in the Rising Stars Challenge tonight as part of All-Star Weekend.

Second-year player Devin Booker and rookie Marquese Chriss have been named to the U.S. Roster in the U.S. vs. the World game.

“I’m excited man,” Booker said after the Suns 36-point win over the Lakers on Wednesday night. “I have a lot of family down there in that area, get time to spend with them. Get to see Derrick in the dunk contest, ‘Quese in the Rising Stars game, we’re just going to have fun with it.”

This is Booker’s second time among the NBA luminaries, while Marquese Chriss has no idea what to expect and might just get caught people watching as much as the rest of us.

“I think it’s just being one-on-one with people you watch and you play against,” Chriss said of what’s exciting for him about this weekend. “Especially like some of the greats like Lebron and people like that. Especially people who are my age, Book, Karl, Porzingis all those other people, just being one-on-one situations with them, just interacting with them and continuing to grow.”

Recent Rising Stars

The Suns have not seen the Rising Stars game portend an All-Star future for a player in a long, long time. Booker last year and now Chriss this year are the first rookies to be named since Amare.

Recently, rookie Markieff Morris (2012) and Miles Plumlee (2014) were named to the roster in their respective years.

Miles’ claim to fame in his game was an impressive block on Anthony Davis, though overall he played the fewest minutes of any rookie or sophomore in the game.

Markieff Morris had 12 points in 2012, including a nice slam off a Rubio dish. Kieff was averaging 7 points and 5 rebounds per game at the time he was picked.

It was Amare Stoudemire that last lit up the Rookie-Sophomore game as a Sun. Check out this video from 2004. Holy toledo! LBJ, Wade, Melo, Manu... and Amare

Oh and here’s a guy you might remember from back in the day

Booker

As an 18-year old rookie, Devin Booker got named to participate in the Three-Point Shootout (finishing third) and the Rising Stars game as an injury replacement. He’s the youngest Suns player ever to participate in All-Star Weekend (and was the youngest ever Three-Point Shootout participant among all teams).

Here are his 23 points in that Rising Stars game, where defense is still an afterthought.

Marquese Chriss

Chriss, 19 years old, is the youngest Suns participant since Devin Booker way back in 2016.

This video is a great compilation of everything Chriss brings to the game - blocked shots, scoring, rebounding and lots and lots of dunks.

I’m expecting that, given the lack of defense being played in these games, we will have a few highlights of Chriss slam dunks in transition. Here is my favorite dunk.

And here’s a nice story from new beat writer Doug Haller with Chriss on what the rookie thinks of his dunks.

Booker and Chriss in NOLA

The two young players arrived in New Orleans early yesterday and immediately did the media rounds. I recall Goran Dragic (named to the Skills Challenge) saying it was a whirlwind in 2014, and that he didn’t even bring his wife and kid because his appearance calendar was so jam packed day and night.

Chriss is not so dapper as Book...

Finally, here’s a nice compilation video from the Suns on everyone hitting All-Star weekend.

The Game

I don’t know if this game will be as jam-packed with future Hall of Famers like the 2004 game where Amare led all scorers with 36 in a game that featured LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade, among others.

But there’s still some great future talent hitting the floor here.

Karl-Anthony Towns and Myles Turner join Devin Booker as guys who already look like future All-Stars.

On the World Team, we unfortunately won’t see Joel Embiid (yet another injury), but we do get to watch Kristaps Porzingis and Nikola Jokic!

Tune in tonight at 7:00PM on TNT to watch these guys let each other dunk!