Contested as a four-team tournament, the 2022 edition of the Rising Star Challenge saw Rick Barry’s side, led by evening MVP Cade Cunningham, dominate the evening.
For its return, the Rising Star Challenge has given itself a facelift. As America’s top young players have faced off against those from around the world in one game for the past six years, the night showcasing the NBA’s future stars offered something different to open All-Star 2022. Indeed, if the best “rookies” (first year players) and “sophomores” (second year players) were invited, they were joined by the best elements of the Ignite, development team committed to the G- League. The 28 players involved have been split into four teams representing Rick Barry, Isiah Thomas, Gary Payton and James Worthy. After two semi-finals in which the winner was the first to 50 points, the final offered the title to the first team to reach 25 points.
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Team Isiah and Team Barry in the final of a breath
The first semi-final, opposing the team of Isiah Thomas to that of James Worthy, gave way to the spectacle with Jalen Green (20 points) and Jalen Suggs (16 points) hitting first for Team Worthy. Team Barry, for its part, was able to count on Saddiq Bey (16 points) and Isaiah Stewart (10 points) to resist and come back from a ten-point deficit. On the free-throw line, Jalen Suggs had the match point for Team Worthy but the latter trembled and missed the target before getting at fault on Desmond Bane (10 points). Converting his two free throws, he offered victory to his team (50-49). After such an intense match, the team of Rick Barry and that of Gary Payton offered a completely different scenario. Indeed, these two formations had only one thing in mind, victory, and went blow for blow. Thanks to Jaden McDaniels (12 points), Team Payton got off to the best start then Bones Hyland (10 points) scored eight units in a row to give his side a seven-length advantage. It was then that Cade Cunningham (13 points) and Evan Mobley (13 points) came out of their box to inflict a 10-0 on their opponents and regain control of the scoreboard. Jea’Sean Tate (7 points) finally offered victory to Team Barry (50-48).
Cunningham leads Team Barry to victory
Before the final, a “Clutch Challenge” was organized, during which four teams of two players aimed to reproduce significant actions in the history of the NBA, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this season. In this little game, Tyrese Haliburton and Desmond Bane were the strongest, completing the objective in just over 39 seconds. This intermission was quickly dispatched, Team Isiah and Team Barry met for the final of this Rising Stars Challenge, with the objective of being the first to 25 points. Conscious that no time should be wasted, Team Isiah got off to a flying start, with Precious Achiuwa (12 points) allowing their team to widen a gap of six points. However, Jae’Sean Tate (5 points) and Alperen Sengun (3 points) allowed Team Barry to hold on. It was then that Team Isiah lost the thread of the game and allowed Cade Cunningham (5 points) to bring his team one point closer to victory. On a free throw, Franz Wagner (3 points) put an end to the suspense and offered the first “new-look” Rising Stars Challenge to Team Barry. Influencing both games, with a total of 18 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists, Cade Cunningham was voted MVP of the evening.