The NBA announced this week a revamp to its annual Rookie/Sophomore game at All-Star Weekend renaming it the Rising Stars Challenge. Teams will still be made up of Rookies and second-year players but the teams will now be selected playground style by TNT announcers Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley.
The Atlanta Hawks won't be represented in the event as rookie Ivan Johnson was among the names left off of the roster.
ROOKIES: Kyrie Irving (Cavaliers), Derrick Williams (Timberwolves), Tristan Thompson (Cavaliers), Ricky Rubio (Timberwolves), Brandon Knight (Pistons), Kemba Walker (Bobcats), Markieff Morris (Suns), Kawhi Leonard (Spurs), Marshon Brooks (Nets).
SOPHOMORES: Blake Griffin (Clippers), John Wall (Wizards), Evan Turner (76ers), DeMarcus Cousins (Kings), Greg Monroe (Pistons), Gordon Hayward (Jazz), Paul George (Pacers), Landry Fields (Knicks), Tiago Splitter (Spurs).
Johnson has been somewhat of a revelation in Atlanta and is rapidly becoming a fan favorite. His averages of 5.7 points and 4.0 rebounds might look somewhat pedestrian but his value to this Hawks team can't be understated. Johnson is basically lining up as the team's back up center every night and usually faces a distinct size disadvantage which he often overcomes with strength and tenacity.
Johnson's contributions aren't going completely unnoticed around the league as he made his debut in NBA.com's rookie ladder this week jumping from being unranked all the way to No. 5.