HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston Rockets are still a season or two - or three, really - away from real playoff contention. And the same can be said for the NBA club's top stars when it comes to making the All-Star Game.
So, while Red Nation fans will need to wait until that's fully realized, they'll have to settle with stars Jalen Green, Alperen Sengün, and Jabari Smith Jr. making it to this year's NBA Rising Stars showcase.
In past years, one of the events leading up to the All-Star Game is a matchup between the league's first and second-year players. However, this season's edition, which is tapped for Salt Lake City, Utah, invites 21 rookies and sophomores, as well as seven players from the NBA's developmental G League, and places them in a draft pool to be selected by one of four teams.
The video above is from Smith and his fellow rookies' introduction in June 2022.
Green, who leads the team in points per game, and Sengün, who leads the Rockets in rebounds and blocks during a breakout season for him, are among the sophomore invitees. The NBA invited Smith, who is sixth in scoring and fourth in minutes played among rookies, as the Rockets' only first-year representative, bypassing teammate Tari Eason, who is coming into his own during his debut season in Houston.
The 21 NBA players will be drafted into three seven-player teams. Former NBA players Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, and Deron Williams will serve as coaches for those teams, while former Rockets star Jason Terry will coach the G League team.
The four teams will then face off in semifinal games, with each winner facing off in a final. The games will also be played to a final target score, which is similar to the newly-instituted rules in the regular All-Star Game.
And, yes, there is a chance that the three Rockets could be on the same team or face off against one another.
The Rising Stars competition is set for Friday, Feb. 17.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.