MINNEAPOLIS – When the 18-man roster for the BBVA Rising Stars game, a part of NBA All-Star weekend, was announced last week, there was at least one noteable omission. Two, actually, it turns out: Ricky Rubio and Sacramento’s Isaiah Thomas, whom TNT’s Kenny Smith announced Thursday were added to the pool of players.
Rubio’s initial snub was surprising less for his play – the point guard has struggled in his return from ACL injury – than for his entertainment value. In recent games, though, Rubio’s game has improved greatly, pushing his season averages up to 6.1 points (on 31.1 percent shooting) and 6.0 assists per game. In his past six games, Rubio has averaged 10.8 points and 8.5 assists, and his shooting has been markedly better, 40.7 percent.
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In Thursday night’s draft, in which Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley picked their teams, Rubio was selected 10th overall, the third point guard chosen behind Portland’s Damian Lillard and Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and the first on his team, Team Chuck. Joining Rubio on that team will be his Timberwolves teammate Alexey Shved, who was the final player picked in the draft.
The Rising Stars game will be played on Friday, Feb. 15 at the All-Star Game weekend in Houston.