Pacers rookies Bennedict Mathurin, Andrew Nembhard named to All-Star Rising Stars roster
They were among 21 NBA players chosen for the showcase that kicks off All-Star Weekend — to be held in Salt Lake City.
The Indiana Pacers will have multiple players representing the team at NBA All-Star Weekend for the second consecutive year.
Rookies Bennedict Mathurin and Andrew Nembhard were voted on the rosters for the Rising Stars games, which will take place on Friday, Feb. 17 in Salt Lake City. It’s the event that gets things started at All-Star Weekend.
The Rising Stars event gives the top young players in the league a taste of All-Star Weekend and showcases their game in a mini-tournament consisting of four teams and three games. There were 28 players selected: 11 rookies and 10 second-year players, plus seven from the G League.
The 21 NBA players were voted in by assistant coaches throughout the league, submitted via one vote per coaching staff.
Last year in Cleveland, it was Tyrese Haliburton and Chris Duarte representing the Pacers. (Duarte did not play due to injury.)
About 20 minutes before the league’s official announcement on Tuesday, Mathurin discussed what the honor would mean to him.
“It would be great,” he said. “It’s a start, my first year in the league. My goal is to be an All-Star one day so (this) gives me the opportunity to see how it is out there and hopefully I’m an All-Star in the future.”
Mathurin, the No. 6 pick, was named Rookie of the Month for the first month of the season. He’s played in all 52 games — starting in six — and averaged 17.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.
He’s confident, unselfish and able to see the big picture. He’s a core piece of the Pacers, along with Haliburton.
Mathurin is averaging 6.4 free throw attempts per game, which ranks first on the team and 18th in the NBA.
“Benn just has an iron will out there to make things happen, to get to the free throw line and get the ball in the basket,” said head coach Rick Carlisle.
See Also: 'They spoke it into existence': Why Mathurin was with Haliburton the night before the draft
Nembhard was the 31st pick, the first selection in the second round. He was the standout player in training camp — and quickly earned a greater role than anyone could have imagined for the first-year player out of Gonzaga.
He’s started in 34 of 45 games, and for most of the last two months, while taking on the role as the top defender on the team. The assignment next game, for example, will be LeBron James.
In November, Nembhard nailed a buzzer-beating 3 against James and the Lakers, then scored a career-high 31 points in a win at Golden State one week later.
“To be honest, I did not know Andrew could guard like this when he got here,” Haliburton said. “He’s guarding the best player every night, him and Aaron (Nesmith). And they’re doing a great job.”
Nembhard is averaging 8.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game.
And remember, All-Star Weekend 2024 will be held in Indianapolis. At last.
See the full roster below:
More details, per the NBA:
Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, Deron Williams and Jason Terry will serve as the honorary head coaches.
All three games in Jordan Rising Stars will be played to a Final Target Score, meaning that each game will end with a made basket or a made free throw instead of with the clock running out. The semifinal games will be played to a Final Target Score of 40. The final game will be played to a Final Target Score of 25.
Team A will face Team B in the first semifinal (Game 1), and Team C will play Team D in the second semifinal (Game 2). The winner of Game 1 will meet the winner of Game 2 in the final (Game 3).