NEW ORLEANS — The kids are taking over the place.
You can't toss a string of beads in the French Quarter this weekend without hitting a wide-eyed
The festivities have become one extended Rising Stars Challenge between the six players making their All-Star game debuts Sunday at the Smoothie King Center and the five back for a second appearance. At 20,
Generation Next includes first-timers
"We were just talking about this in the room with
"It's crazy. It goes so fast."
The fans didn't listen, ensuring Bryant would be selected as an All-Star for a 16th time, most among active players. Bryant, still recovering from a broken left knee, was replaced on the team by Davis and in the starting lineup by Harden.
Bryant won't be the only usual suspect missing from the game. All-Star mainstays
Of course, the rise of the NBA's top young players also had something to do with it.
"You can't slow down Father Time," said DeRozan, who is only 24 despite being in his fifth season with the
It's easy to make the case that the kids are going to be around awhile.
Curry, who will be starting for the Western Conference team, is widely considered the best shooter in the NBA. Lillard and Wall are among the game's top point guards and Davis is already a defensive stopper who leads the league in blocked shots.
"He has every physical tool,"
The same quote works for all of the second-time All-Stars too. George is in the discussion with Miami's James and Oklahoma City's
The impact of the newbies and second-time All-Stars is also reflected in the standings: eight of their 10 teams would make the playoffs if they started Sunday.
"The biggest thing to me is winning," said Washington's Wall, whose team is in sixth place in the East. "I still haven't done what I want to do, which is win a playoff series or a playoff game or even be in a playoff game. My biggest goal and ultimate goal this season is to be in the playoffs."
"I think LeBron, K.D. and
They're no longer on their way. They're here, probably to stay.
"You see the young guys coming up and they are the future of the NBA," Wade said. "One day, they'll be doing the same thing we're doing. They'll be looking back like, 'Man, how fast did it go?'"