The NBA's longest drought is finally over. For the first time in six years — a span during which the Los Angeles Clippers have had three participants — the Sacramento Kings will be represented during NBA All-Star Weekend.
Although Kevin Martin's potential All-Star Game bid was put to a grinding halt when he fractured his wrist just five games into the season, and Tyreke Evans has little chance of edging out perennial Western Conference stalwarts for a reserve spot in his first year, two of Sacramento's best up-and-coming stars will compete in the Rookie Challenge: Evans and Omri Casspi.
Hedo Turkoglu (2002) and Jason Williams (2000) were selected in their second NBA seasons after the league adopted a rookies versus sophomores format, but the last first-year King to appear in the Rookie Challenge prior to Evans, an obvious lock from the first week of the season and on pace for a historic season, and Casspi, who's widely considered to be the steal of the draft, was another number 13 -- the legendary Michael "Yogi" Stewart in 1998. Yes, they've got some mighty big shoes to fill.
Yet, despite averaging an impressive 14.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game as a starter and shooting 40% on three-point field goals on the season (26th in the league), Casspi's recent shooting woes — 9.2 points on 40%, FG an anemic 16% from downtown over the last 10 games — likely cost him a chance to compete in the Three Point Shootout. No King has taken part in the contest since Peja Stojakovic came a money ball shy of winning his third consecutive title in 2004 (curse you, Voshon Lenard).
After being omitted from the rookie roster last season despite a late injury to Greg Oden, Jason Thompson was once again denied an opportunity to play for the loaded 2010 sophomore squad. Although he's has had a disconcertingly quiet January, he ranks third among second-year players in rebounds per game (8.7), as well as 11th in points (13.4), and fourth in blocks (1.0) and double-doubles (15), making the snub all the more questionable and unexpected. Donte Greene, more of a dark horse candidate, was also left off the team despite nearly doubling his fist year statistics across the board and averaging 9.4 points, three rebounds and one block per game in 25 starts.