Created on Thursday, 31 January 2013 Written by TOM WITHERS,AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Kyrie Irving won't be going to All-Star weekend alone. He's bringing three friends.
The Cavaliers' point guard was selected Wednesday along with teammates Tristan Thompson and rookies Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller to play in next month's Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star activities in Houston.
Irving, who was named MVP of last year's game between the league's rookies and second-year players, has already been picked as an All-Star reserve, and he could start for the Eastern Conference because of a season-ending injury to Boston's Rajon Rondo.
"We're very proud of Kyrie, Tristan, Dion and Tyler and the efforts they are putting in to earn this kind of recognition," Cavs general manager Chris Grant said. "Internal growth with our young core is very important to us and this is a good reflection of their development. It is also great they will be able to experience this special All-Star weekend together and we look forward to seeing their continued hard work and progress."
Irving made all eight 3-pointers and scored 34 points to win MVP honors in last year's Rising Stars game. The reigning NBA rookie of the year, is averaging 23.9 points, 5.5 assists and 3.6 rebounds in 35 games. With Rondo out, the East's coach — likely to be Miami's Erik Spoelstra — will select a new starter.
A season-ending injury to center Anderson Varejao has given Thompson more playing time, and the second-year forward has been thriving. He's averaging 11 points and 9.3 rebounds, including 3.9 on the offensive end — third most in the league. Thompson, who was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2011 draft, has 17 double-doubles this season.
Waiters' 14.5 point average is second among rookies and he's chipping in 3.2 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game. Among rookies, he's second in steals, third in assists and fourth in total 3-pointers made (49).
Zeller is averaging 8.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and one block in 27.8 minutes.
Also, the Cavs, who had their three-game winning streak ended by Golden State on Tuesday, assigned forward Kevin Jones to their Canton affiliate in the NBA Development League.
Jones has appeared in 15 games for Cleveland, averaging 1.9 points and 1.5 rebounds in nine minutes. He's averaged 23.8 points and 12.3 rebounds in six games for the Charge.