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Matisse Thybulle snubbed for 2020 Rising Stars Challenge

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NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia 76ers rookie Matisse Thybulle has not been selected to the Rising Stars challenge, NBA All-Star Weekend’s exhibition for the league’s top rookies and sophomores.

The Rising Stars game (as in the actual on-court action) is pretty meaningless. But Matisse Thybulle’s play this season should have earned him the recognition to be selected for the event. While so much of the voting for NBA awards relies on offensive box score production, the Rising Stars Challenge participants are selected by assistant coaches from around the NBA. If any voting body could appreciate Thybulle’s defensive prowess, I would think it’d be the coaches pouring through film and analysis to scheme against the Sixers. Fans aren’t tuning into All-Star weekend for defense, but he’s playing over 20 minutes per game for a team on pace to win 52 games with some of the most impactful defense among rookies in all of the NBA.

Partially responsible for Thybulle’s exclusion seems to be what is an effort to include representatives from every NBA franchise in All-Star Weekend. Going through the roster, a majority of the participants are on teams destined for the draft lottery and/or teams who will not be represented in the All-Star game. From a marketing perspective, I get it.

Canada’s got a lot to be excited about for the Rising Stars, with four selections: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, RJ Barrett, Brandon Clarke, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. No other country had multiple selections.

The full rosters are below.

World Team

Luka Dončić, DAL (Slovenia)
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, NOP (Canada)
Deandre Ayton, PHX (Bahamas)
RJ Barrett, NYK (Canada)
Brandon Clarke, MEM (Canada)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, OKC (Canada)
Rui Hachimura, WAS (Japan)
Moritz Wagner, WAS (Germany)
Svi Mykhailiuk, DET (Ukraine)
Josh Okogie, MIN (Nigeria)

Team USA

Trae Young, ATL
Miles Bridges, CHA
PJ Washington, CHA
Devonte’ Graham, CHA
Wendell Carter Jr., CHI
Tyler Herro, MIA
Kendrick Nunn, MIA
Jaren Jackson Jr., MEM
Ja Morant, MEM
Eric Paschall, GSW

My money’s on Team USA. Teammates Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. could control the pace of the game given their chemistry. I’m hoping to see the backcourt pairings of Trae and Ja vs. Luka and SGA. Not sure we’ll get to see that given the pairings may be backing each other up rather than sharing the court.