Sixers' Ben Simmons Makes Rising Stars Challenge; Rookie Landry Shamet Overlooked

As expected, Joel Embiid will have some company at All-Star Weekend.

Ben Simmons was named to the Rising Stars Challenge on Tuesday night as part of Team World. The game will take place Feb. 15 at 9 p.m. in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

Here are the full rosters for Team USA and Team World:

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We'll find out Thursday, when the reserves are named, whether Simmons is part of the All-Star Game itself.

If Simmons makes the All-Star Game as well as the Rising Stars Challenge, he'll have to decide whether he wants to play in both contests, as Embiid did last season.

Simmons, the Rookie of the Year last season, has a very solid résumé for the All-Star Game despite his much-discussed lack of a reliable jump shot. He's averaging 16.6 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.2 assists, and has eight triple-doubles.

Perhaps his biggest area of improvement has been in the post. After shooting 21 of 70 (30 percent) on post-up possessions as a rookie, he's gone 42 for 83 (50.6) this season.

Shamet overlooked

There's a strong argument to be made that rookie Landry Shamet also should have been a part of the Rising Stars Challenge. 

Sixers head coach Brett Brown expected Shamet, the No. 26 pick out of Wichita State, to spend time in the G-League this season. Instead, he's the only Sixer to play in all 50 of the team's games and has done the following:

• Made the second-most three-pointers among rookies (91)
• Posted the highest three-point percentage (minimum 30 attempts) for a rookie (40.3 percent)
• Set a Sixers rookie record for three-point shots made in a game (Eight, on Jan. 8)
• Recorded a 2.12 assist-to-turnover ratio

Lonzo Ball and Trae Young have bigger names, but Shamet's résumé this season is at least on par with both.

While Ball has an edge over Shamet in most traditional statistical categories (points, rebounds, assists), the two have similar advanced stats. Ball has a 12.0 player efficiency rating and minus-0.3 net rating, compared to Shamet's 11.1 player efficiency rating and minus-0.8 net rating. Shamet has 2.1 win shares; Ball has 1.8.

The two are obviously very different players - Shamet is an excellent shooter and Ball is below league average from three-point range and an abysmal 41.7 percent from the foul line. Ball is a much more effective distributor than Shamet, who has mostly been asked to play an off-ball, "mini-JJ" Redick role by Brown. But, in terms of value, Shamet and Ball are close. If anything, you'd think the fact that Shamet is contributing for a contender as a rookie might give him an edge.

Young is, without a doubt, a more talented offensive player than Shamet. However, Shamet is having a better season than the Hawks rookie, who's shooting just 29 percent from three-point territory. Young might have more flash and dynamic playmaking ability than Shamet, but he's been highly inefficient on a bad Hawks team and easy to pick on defensively. Young has a minus-3.5 box plus minus and a minus-8.5 net rating. 

Of course, there's no objective criteria for selecting the participants in the Rising Stars Challenge, a task that falls upon the NBA's assistant coaches. It's all arbitrary, and it's certainly fair to argue that Young and Ball better fit the definition of "rising star" than Shamet. 

In early November, Shamet told The Delco Times' Jack McCaffrey one of his goals was to make the Rising Stars Challenge. He'll have to wait until next year to check that off his list, but the rookie's impressive, mature play merited a spot this season.

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