The NBA All-Star reserves will be announced on Thursday, but with Carmelo Anthony already being voted in as a starter for the game by the fans, one could expect that no other Knickerbocker will be named to the squad. Up until recently, New York struggled mightily to begin the season. Thus, no one has quite looked close to being All-Star worthy.
Instead, the arguably more pertinent news to the Knicks came on Wednesday. Rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. was named as a participant for the Rising Stars Challenge. Though he started off the season as kind of an offensive question mark, the young gun quickly turned the corner and has since made strides for New York. Emerging as a key contributor off the bench, Hardaway Jr. has averaged 8.6 points per contest on 46% from the field, and 41% from deep. What's more, his increasingly consistent nature has helped him shine over J.R. Smith at multiple points this season. He may not be New York's sixth man, but he's arguably the most reliable one off the bench.
In addition to his offensive prowess, Hardaway Jr. is quite exuberant both on and off the court, as well as on his team's bench. The high-flyer enjoys pumping up the home crowd, as he himself gets excited easily.
The young gun has certainly thrown down his fair share of high-flying slam-dunks this season. In addition to the Rising Stats Challenge, should Hardaway Jr. also be considered for the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest as well?
The answer is simple: yes. He's an exciting player, a fast home crowd favorite, and an impressive in-game dunker to boot. Still, what'll likely hold him back is the Knicks' record. Ironically enough, the NBA often likes to reward players from winning teams, regardless of what contest we're talking about. Though New York has begun to turn things around, it may be too little, too late. We shall see.