Rubio, Williams selected to Rising Stars game

MINNEAPOLIS — Timberwolves rookies Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams were selected Wednesday to play in the 2012 Rising Stars Challenge during NBA All-Star weekend in Orlando.

The game will be played Feb. 24 at the Amway Center, and its format will be different this year. Instead of rookies facing off against second-year players, the teams will be a mixture of rookies and sophomores. Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal will manage the two nine-player squads, whose rosters were chosen by NBA assistant coaches.

Rubio leads all rookies in assists, with 9.1 per game, and steals, with 2.4 per game. He’s also third among rookies in points, averaging 11.2. He’s tied for first in the league with 11 point/assist double-doubles.

Williams, who was the second overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft, plays an average of 18.3 minutes off the bench for the Timberwolves. He has started two games and has scored in double figures 10 times this season, the most of any rookie forward. He’s averaging 7.6 points and four rebounds per game.

“I think it’s always good for someone to be involved in that weekend,” Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said Tuesday before the rosters were released. “If they can get a chance to go there, I think it’s a great experience.”

The seven rookies selected in addition to Rubio and Williams are MarShon Brooks (New Jersey), Kyrie Irving (Cleveland), Brandon Knight (Detroit), Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio), Markieff Morris (Phoenix), Tristan Thompson (Cleveland) and Kemba Walker (Charlotte).

The sophomores chosen are DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento), Landry Fields (New York), Paul George (Indiana), Blake Griffin (L.A. Clippers), Gordon Hayward (Utah), Greg Monroe (Detroit), Tiago Splitter (San Antonio), Evan Turner (Philadelphia) and John Wall (Washington).

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