While many NBA players use the All-Star Break to rest and mentally recharge heading into the home stretch of the season (Jimmy “Cash” Butler appears to be having a good time in Nashville), Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons has a busy weekend in front of him. No, you won’t be able to check him out in Saturday night’s dunk contest. However, after being involved in the first ever All-Star game trade, Simmons will be suiting up for Team LeBron in Sunday night’s main event. First, though, he takes the floor for Team World in tonight’s Rising Stars Challenge, featuring the NBA’s top rookie and second-year players.
Last year as a rookie, Simmons joined Sixers teammates Joel Embiid and Dario Saric in the starting lineup for Team World. Ben went into that contest with the goal of breaking the Rising Stars assist record:
Ben Simmons says he wants to break the Rising Stars Challenge assist record tonight. pic.twitter.com/WJtD14yCdn— Tom Read (@traread) February 16, 2018
While he didn’t quite reach John Wall’s high mark of 22 assists from 2011, Simmons performed more than admirably. He shot a perfect 5-for-5 from the field and 1-for-1 from the foul line for 11 points, while also tallying 6 rebounds, 4 steals, and a game-high 13 assists against 4 turnovers. Team World won the game, 155-124.
This year, Simmons may play reduced minutes since he also has to take the floor Sunday night, but that doesn’t preclude us from seeing something memorable. Could the reduced stakes mean we see Ben’s first made 3-pointer in a real-ish NBA game? Will there be any fireworks between Simmons and sweatshirt aficionado Donovan Mitchell? Maybe those two things will converge — imagine Ben knocking down a 3 in Mitchell’s face and channeling Eddie Griffin in The New Guy: “Who’s the rookie now?”
You can find out exactly what will happen by tuning into TNT tonight at 9:00 pm EST. Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi.