Feb 23, 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Reggie Jackson (15) shoots the ball against Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum (17) during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena Mandatory Credit: Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE

NBA All-Star 2012: BBVA Rising Stars Challenge tonight at 9:00 P.M. EST

This year the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge will introduce a new format to the game that historically featured the NBA’s rookies facing off against the sophomores.

Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal each drafted teams this year so the players are mixed but the pool still consists of just first and second year players.

The best part about this draft has resulted in Ricky Rubio and Blake Griffin being paired together on Team Shaq. Rubio is already one of the best passers in the NBA this season and we all know the kind of things Griffin can do with a lob pass.

Oklahoma City Thunder rookie point guard Reggie Jackson will not compete in the game. Jackson isn’t having the greatest rookie season, now getting run with Eric Maynor lost for the year with an injury, but has been better lately and is showing promise.

Jackson has played 28 games this season and is averaging 3.7 points and 1.7 assists in 11.9 minutes per game. In February those numbers have risen slightly and will hopefully continue to rise for the Thunder this year.

Jackson holds a crucial position for the Thunder as their backup point guard. Russell Westbrook isn’t exactly a true point guard and it was always nice when Maynor would come in because he was a true point guard that could run an offense.

James Harden has stepped up this year as the playmaker for the second unit for the Thunder but if Jackson can produce a little more scoring and playmaking then the Thunder will become a much better team.

Jackson’s absence in the Rising Stars Challenge is also in part to the deep talent at his position. Rubio, Jeremy Lin, John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Norris Cole and Brandon Knight are all point guards in the game.

Thunder fans will have to wait until Saturday night to see a Thunder player compete at All-Star Weekend with Westbrook in the Skills Challenge and Kevin Durant in the Three-Point Contest.

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Tags: Blake Griffin Jeremy Lin NBA All Star Reggie Jackson Reggie Jackson Dunk On Andrew Bynum Ricky Rubio Rising Stars Challenge Team Chuck Team Shaq

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