Sidy Cissoko

NBA G League Announces 24 Players For Next Up Game

The NBA G League announced today that G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson and Timberwolves/Iowa Wolves forward Luka Garza have been named team captains for the NBAGL Next Up Game, which will take place in Salt Lake City during All-Star weekend.

While the exhibition match isn’t technically being called a G League All-Star Game, that’s essentially what it is. The 24-player pool was selected by a fan vote and by the league itself.

Henderson averaged 21.2 PPG, 6.0 APG, and 4.3 RPG in six Showcase Cup games (28.5 MPG) before missing time with an injury. The guard, widely projected to be the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, has registered 17.7 PPG, 5.7 APG, and 4.5 RPG in 11 regular season games (29.8 MPG) since returning.

Garza, meanwhile, has been dominant at the G League level while playing for the Timberwolves on a two-way contract. He averaged 29.8 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 3.2 APG on .628/.500/.794 shooting in nine Showcase Cup games (34.4 MPG) and has been boosted those averages in two regular season games (32.5 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 5.0 APG) for the Iowa Wolves.

Here’s the full list of players who will take part in the G League Next Up Game:

(* Players marked with an asterisk are on two-way contracts with NBA teams.)

As is the case with the NBA All-Star Game, the team captains – in this case, Henderson and Garza – will select their 12-man squads in a draft. The draft for the G League Next Up Game will take place on February 14.

NBA Announces Player Pool For Rising Stars Event

The NBA officially unveiled the 28-player pool for this year’s Rising Stars event on Tuesday, making the announcement via the NBA App. The following players made the cut:



G League players:

As was the case last season, the Rising Stars event will consist of four teams and three games. The seven G League players will comprise one team, coached by longtime NBA guard Jason Terry. The other 21 players will be drafted to three squads coached by former NBA stars Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, and Deron Williams.

The four teams will be split into two first-round matchups and the winners of those two games will face one another for the Rising Stars championship. The two semifinals will be played to a target score of 40 points, while the final will be played to a target score of 25 points.

All three contests will take place on Friday, February 17 as part of All-Star weekend in Salt Lake City. The NBA’s full press release with more information on the event can be found right here.

And-Ones: Suns’ Sale, Expansion, Udoh, Ignite, Warkentien

There wasn’t a ton of trade chatter at the G League Winter Showcase in Las Vegas this past week, but the news of the Sunssale to Mat Ishbia generated plenty of discussion, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. Specifically, the franchise’s $4 billion valuation raised eyebrows, given how far above recent projections it was.

As Hollinger explains, that eye-popping sale price led to speculation on two fronts. For one, there were conversations about whether other franchises could find their way onto the market — for instance, Paul Allen‘s estate appears content to exercise patience before eventually opening the bidding on the Trail Blazers, but it’s possible the Suns’ valuation could help expedite that process. Hollinger adds that there have also been whispers over the years about whether Michael Jordan will sell the Hornets.

Perhaps more importantly, the Suns’ high sale price could be good news for the prospect of NBA expansion. As Hollinger observes, the existing 30 team owners are more likely to agree to bring in two new partners if their cut of the expansion fee high enough to offset their losses from splitting the NBA’s TV deal and other sources of revenue 32 ways instead of 30 ways. The Suns selling for $4 billion increases the odds of expansion fees for teams in cities like Seattle and Las Vegas reaching the neighborhood of $4-5 billion, says Hollinger.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA lottery pick Ekpe Udoh is resuming his playing career in Japan, according to Alessandro Maggi of Sportando, who relays that the big man has signed with the Shimane Susanoo Magic. The No. 6 overall pick in the 2010 draft, Udoh appeared in 384 total NBA games, but hasn’t played in the league since the 2018/19 season.
  • Scoot Henderson wasn’t available for the G League Ignite during the league’s Winter Showcase event in Las Vegas this past week, but Jeremy Woo of got a chance to scout several other Ignite players, including London Johnson, Leonard Miller, Sidy Cissoko, and Mojave King. Woo shares several of his key takeaways on the Ignite’s non-Henderson prospects, identifying Miller and Cissoko as players who have a chance to be selected in the first round of the 2023 NBA draft (Johnson will be draft-eligible in 2024).
  • Veteran NBA executive Mark Warkentien, who won an Executive of the Year award in 2009 as the Nuggets‘ head of basketball operations, has passed away at age 69 (Twitter link via the Nuggets). Warkentien most recently worked in the league as a special assignment evaluator for the Thunder. We at Hoops Rumors send our condolences to his family and friends.

And-Ones: Doncic, International Prospects, Playoff Contenders, Bluiett

Mavericks All-Star guard Luka Doncic is hoping to win it all at EuroBasket this year, per Eurohoops. The 6’7″ guard is playing for his native Slovenia in the competition. Led by Doncic and countryman Goran Dragic, the Slovenian national team won EuroBasket in 2017. Dragic retired from international play after the event — but unretired in time to suit up this year’s event.

“We are going to Germany [the locale for the event] to win gold,” Doncic told reporters. “In every competition where we compete, the goal must always be the first place. We will do everything for it, but we will see if we make it. In 2017, no one took us seriously when we announced our attack on the gold medal, today is different. It’s nice when you see that everyone will make an extra effort against us to win.”

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The 2022 FIBA U18 European Championship in Izmir, Turkey featured several intriguing international NBA prospects, as Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider link) writes. Givony, evaluating the best candidates among the young talent, considers two French players – versatile shooting guard Sidy Cissoko and defensive-oriented small forward Rayan Rupert – to be the most exciting players at the event.
  • With NBA training camps just a month away and many of the summer’s big transactions in the rear view, Tim Bontemps and Kevin Pelton of ESPN assess which clubs have fully committed to succeeding in the present, and how much of their future leverage they have surrendered to get to this point.
  • Former Pelicans two-way player Trevon Bluiett has agreed to terms on a deal with Polish club MKS Dabrowa Gornicza, a source informs our own JD Shaw (Twitter link). The 27-year-old wing went undrafted out of Xavier in 2018 before joining the Pelicans via a two-way contract. He toiled with NBAGL clubs the Westchester Knicks and the Salt Lake City Stars until 2021, but never ended up making his regular season NBA debut. The 6’6″ swingman subsequently went overseas, playing for clubs in Turkey and Germany.

Sidy Cissoko Joins Ignite, Looks To Emulate Daniels

Potential 2023 first-round pick Sidy Cissoko has signed with the NBA’s G League Ignite, Jonathan Givony of ESPN reports.

Cissoko, a 6’7” wing, is currently ranked No. 25 in ESPN’s 2023 mock draft.

“We explored several options with my agents and I was convinced G League Ignite was the best opportunity to achieve my goals,” Cissoko said. “The ability of this program to maximize the potential of its players on and off the court convinced me. Even more, the tailor-made development program and opportunity to start my transition to the US game style, 3-point line and off-court life is a key asset. I felt during our conversations with the staff that I was a priority.”

Cissoko, 18, is the third-ranked prospect in his class in Europe beyond projected 2023 top pick Victor Wembanyama and Rayan Rupert, Givony says.

Cissoko was encouraged by the ascension of Australian Dyson Daniels in this year’s draft. Daniels boosting his draft stock dramatically during his season with Ignite and was selected No. 8 overall by the Pelicans.

“Dyson shows the ability of the G League to get international players drafted high,” Cissoko said.

Cissoko joins projected 2023 No. 2 pick Scoot Henderson on the Ignite’s roster, as well as 6’10” Canadian forward Leonard Miller and Nigerian Efe Abogidi, who was recruited out of the NCAA transfer portal from Washington State. The Ignite are eyeing several more international prospects.

Cissoko played this past season for Baskonia’s second team in LEB Gold and participated in the Nike Hoop Summit at Portland in April. He is currently practicing with the French under-18 national team in preparation for the FIBA U18 European Championship, which starts on July 30 in Izmir, Turkey. He’ll join the Ignite after the tournament.