Zion Williamson and Nickeil Alexander-Walker named to NBA Rising Stars teams

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA – AUGUST 09: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans dunks the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs at HP Field House at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 9, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ashley Landis – Pool/Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS – The NBA announced earlier today that Pelicans second year forward Zion Williamson and guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker have been named to the U.S. and World Rising Stars teams, respectively. The distinction marks the second time the two teammates have been named Rising Stars, having both earned the honor during their rookie seasons in 2019-20.

A native of Spartanburg, South Carolina, Williamson, is averaging 25.5 points on .614 shooting from the field, 7.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists, ranking first among all second-year players in points per game while holding the highest field goal percentage among the top 22 sophomore scorers, second in rebounds per game, and seventh in assists per game. Williamson has recorded nine of the 21 30-point performances among second-year players, the most of any sophomore. The Duke University product has been selected to play in the 2021 NBA All-Star game, the first of his career.

Williamson is joined on the U.S. Team with Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant; Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards; Sacramento Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton; Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro; Atlanta Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter; San Antonio Spurs guard/forward Keldon Johnson; Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr.; and Golden State Warriors center James Wiseman.

Alexander-Walker, a native of Toronto, Ontario, has appeared in 27 games this season, averaging 8.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.0 steals, ranking fifth in scoring among second-year international players. On January 13, Alexander-Walker scored a career-high 37 points in his second career start during a road games against the LA Clippers, becoming just the ninth player since 1970 to score at least 35 points in one of their first two career games in the starting lineup.

Alexander-Walker is joined on the World Team with four fellow Canadians; New York Knicks guard/forward RJ Barrett, Grizzlies forward Brandon Clarke (Canada); Oklahoma City Thunder guard Luguentz Dort (Canada) and Warriors guard Mychal Mulder (Canada), as well as Heat forward Precious Achiuwa (Nigeria); Washington Wizards forwards Deni Avdija (Israel) and Rui Hachimura (Japan); Nuggets guard Facundo Campazzo (Argentina); and Oklahoma City guard Théo Maledon (France).

NBA Rising Stars, the league’s annual showcase of premier young talent during NBA All-Star, will not be played this year due to the limitation of having All-Star events all on one night.  To recognize deserving players, the NBA kept the custom of having the league’s assistant coaches vote for Rising Stars rosters, which comprise 10 first- and second-year NBA players from the United States (U.S. Team) and 10 first- and second-year NBA players from outside the United States (World Team).

In voting for the Rising Stars rosters, assistant coaches selected four frontcourt players, four guards and two additional players at any position for each team.  Voters selected a minimum of three first-year NBA players and three second-year NBA players for each team.  The assistant coaches were not permitted to vote for any player on their team.  Each of the league’s 30 teams submitted one ballot per coaching staff.

Williamson and Alexander-Walker join Chris Paul and Anthony Davis as the only players in franchise history to participate in the Rookie Challenge/Rising Stars Game two times.

{Press release courtesy of the New Orleans Pelicans}

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