In terms of NBA Rising Stars Challenge 2020 highlights, the top two draft picks brought an amazing aerial display to the Windy City on Friday night. Through the first half, many of the league’s bright young stars scored, but Ja Morant and Zion Williamson provided some of the memorable moments sure to be on replay.
One of the moments saw Zion Williamson break a backboard, or at least bend it out of shape thanks to his power move. Team World’s Luka Doncic, who will also be on the All-Star team this coming Sunday, made sure to put an exclamation point on the first half too.
Ja Morant, Zion Williamson connect for highlight dunks
All-Star Weekend’s best dunks aren’t always in the Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday night. Sometimes they’re found one night ahead of the annual showdown when the Rising Stars Challenge takes place. As of Friday night, Ja Morant and Zion Williamson continued to remind the fans why they should be amongst the competitors in the 2020 field.
Morant who has been leading the Rookie of the Year race after winning Rookie of the Month in November, December, and January has been putting on a show of his own on a nightly basis for Memphis. Meanwhile, Zion Williamson has finally started to compete and show his capabilities for the New Orleans Pelicans.
In Friday’s Rising Stars game, Ja served up several alley-oop passes to the No. 1 pick including a sick in-the-air between-the-legs dish to Zion for the one-handed dunk.
The play looked like one that wouldn’t work at first, but the athletic Williamson was able to take control of the ball with one hand and slam it home for Team USA.
😱 Ja and Zion are connecting on some RIDICULOUS oops in #NBARisingStars.
📺: TNT pic.twitter.com/UktRuvR97z
— NBA (@NBA) February 15, 2020
After one of those dunks late in the second quarter from Williamson, the rim was shown tilted to one side. “It’s been Zioned,” the commentator declared as TNT went to break. Luckily, there was staff around to fix that issue during the halftime break.
Still the highlight from the first half was nearly reminiscent of the great moment when Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal destroyed a backboard during his career. One has to think Zion might do the same in a regular-season game someday.
👀 Zion bent the rim! pic.twitter.com/ZPn2C8pnZF
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) February 15, 2020
ZION REALLY TILTED THE WHOLE HOOP 😳 pic.twitter.com/Vh4HFIx1kV
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 15, 2020
By the way, Zion wasn’t the only one rattling the rim out of the top two rookies. Morant had an impressive flight and finish of his own as he was unguarded on a move down the lane.
12 is on triple double watch 🚨
6 points | 4 rebounds | 5 assists. pic.twitter.com/hBTocOlPDw
— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) February 15, 2020
Luka Doncic nails insane shot from beyond half-court
In the Celebrity All-Star Game, there’s a four-point shot available. Perhaps, the NBA Rising Stars Challenge needs something of that nature. With plenty of star players launching up shots from all over the place, there was bound to be one that was truly long distance.
That shot came right towards the end of the first half for Team World courtesy of NBA All-Star Luka Doncic. With the clock ticking down towards all zeroes, Doncic launched one from behind the half-court line near the Chicago All-Star logo. That shot banked in to the delight of everyone in the building.
Trae Young and the 2019 NBA Rookie of the Year Doncic shared a moment where they were all smiles. That gave Team World an 81-71 halftime lead and had everyone watching in the arena and around the world ready for another half of these phenomenal future stars.
— NBA (@NBA) February 15, 2020
With Rising Stars just an appetizer on the NBA All-Star Weekend ahead, it’s going to be another fun three days worth of basketball for fans to enjoy.
The NBA Rising Stars Challenge was telecast on TNT on Friday, February 14.