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NBA names Magic guards Mario Hezonja, Elfrid Payton to Rising Stars Challenge roster

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The Orlando teammates will be adversaries in the annual rookie-sophomore exhibition, which pits the US against the world.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic will once again have two representatives in the Rising Stars Challenge, but on this occasion, they'll be adversaries.

The NBA announced Wednesday that Mario Hezonja and Elfrid Payton will take part in the annual Rising Stars game, which features the league's top first- and second-year players. Hezonja will suit up for Team World, while Payton will represent Team USA.

In limited minutes, Hezonja is averaging 4.6 point, 1.7 rebounds, and one assist per game. Orlando made him the fifth overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. His swagger and shooting ability ought to make him more fun to watch in an exhibition setting than in a traditional NBA one.

Payton, who represented the Magic alongside Victor Oladipo in the 2015 Rising Stars Challenge, is posting per-game averages of 11.2 points and 5.9 assists.

Notably absent from the Rising Stars roster: Magic forward Aaron Gordon, who recently claimed a spot in Orlando's starting five. The Arizona product is averaging 7.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.3 assists while shooting 48.6 percent. Given how stacked Team USA's frontline is--it features Jahlil Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns, Nerlens Noel, and Jabari Parker--perhaps one can understand Gordon's omission.

The Rising Stars Challenge will air live from Toronto's Air Canada Centre on Friday, February 12th, beginning at 9 PM Eastern.

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