Atlanta Hawks rookie center Pero Antic has been selected to participate in the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend, on Friday, Feb. 14, in New Orleans.
“I would like to thank my teammates, the coaching staff and Hawks organization,” Antic tweeted Wednesday evening. “I am proud to represent the city of Atlanta and my home country of Macedonia in New Orleans!”
Antic is the first player in NBA history from Macedonia. He played the last two seasons with Olympiacos Piraeus in Greece, where he won back-to-back Euroleague championships.
With Atlanta this season, the 31-year-old rookie is averaging 5.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 15.5 minutes through 29 games (eight starts). He ranks 4th in 3FG% (.367), 10th in rebounds per game and 12th in points per game among rookies.
However, in the month of January since being inserted as the starting center, he’s putting up 11.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 0.9 assists through eight games, while posting shooting marks of .492 FG%, .432 3FG% and .786 FT%. He set career-highs with 17 points and seven field-goals made during a 121-114 victory over the Miami Heat on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Antic is currently sidelined with a stress fracture in his right ankle and hasn’t played since January 22 in Orlando. He was initially expected to miss 2-4 weeks with the injury. He will only have missed three weeks at the time of the Rising Stars Challenge, so it’s not a guarantee that he will actually participate in the game.
A draft will be held on Feb. 6 to divide the pool of 18 players into two teams. Fans will have an opportunity to vote online for starters after the draft.
The sophomore players in the pool are: Harrison Barnes (GSW), Bradley Beal (WASH), Anthony Davis (NO), Andre Drummond (DET), Terrence Jones (TOR), Damian Lillard (POR), Jared Sullinger (BOS), Dion Waiters (CLE) and Jonas Valanciunas (TOR).
The rookie players joining Antic in the pool are: Steven Adams (OKC), Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL), Trey Burke (UTAH), Tim Hardaway, Jr. (NY),Victor Oladipo (ORL), Kelly Olynyk (BOS), and Mason Plumlee (BK) and Michael Carter-Williams (PHI).
Antic is the fifth player in Hawks franchise history to appear in the Rising Stars game, joining Alan Henderson, Jason Terry, Josh Smith and Al Horford.