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NBA All-Star 2020: Deandre Ayton named to Rising Stars game

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton, center, handles the ball between Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr., right, and guard Dillon Brooks (24) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

Phoenix Suns second-year big man Deandre Ayton was named as a participant of the 2020 NBA Rising Stars game, which features standout first- and second-year players at the league’s All-Star weekend.

While Ayton will represent the Bahamas on the World Team, fellow NBA sophomore and Suns player Mikal Bridges did not make the U.S. Team. NBA assistant coaches selected the roster.

Ayton is averaging 17.9 points, 11.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.4 blocks per game. He debuted with a double-double in the season opener before missing 25 games due to a positive test for diuretics.

The No. 1 overall draft pick in 2019 returned after suspension but sprained his ankle in the first game back on Dec. 17. He returned from the injury two weeks later.

Ayton, who played in the Rising Stars game last year, is the third player from the Suns to appear multiple times, joining Devin Booker and Amar’e Stoudemire.

He is the 11th Phoenix player selected to the game, joining Wesley Person (1995), Trevor Ruffin (1995), Michael Finley (1996), Steve Nash (1997), Shawn Marion (2001), Stoudemire (2003; 2004-MVP), Markieff Morris (2012), Miles Plumlee (2014), Booker (2016; 2017) and Marquese Chriss (2017).

Bridges, who is averaging 8.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game, has steadily forced his way into the mix under first-year Suns coach Monty Williams.

The No. 10 pick in 2019 played 20.3 minutes per night in 13 November games but has pushed for nearly 30 minutes a night in 14 games during January.

In Phoenix’s 29-point win over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, Bridges earned his sixth start of the season. He has also been a part of the Suns’ closing lineups in close games.

Each NBA team’s assistant coaching staff was tasked with filling out a ballot of four frontcourt players, four guards and two players of any position. They were required to choose at least three first-year players and three second-year players.

The Rising Stars game will take place Friday, Feb. 14, and air at 7 p.m. on TNT.

NBA Rising Stars: World Team

Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Pelicans (Canada)
Deandre Ayton, Suns (Bahamas)
R.J. Barrett, Knicks (Canada)
Brandon Clarke, Grizzlies (Canada)
Luka Doncic, Mavericks (Slovenia)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Thunder (Canada)
Rui Hachimura, Wizards (Japan)
Svi Mykhailiuk, Pistons (Ukraine)
Josh Okogie, Timberwolves (Nigeria)
Moritz Wagner, Wizards (Germany)

NBA Rising Stars: U.S. Team

Miles Bridges, Hornets
Wendell Carter Jr., Bulls (injured)
Devonte’ Graham, Hornets
Tyler Herro, Heat
Jaren Jackson Jr., Grizzlies
Ja Morant, Grizzlies
Kendrick Nunn, Heat
Eric Paschall, Warriors
P.J. Washington, Hornets
Zion Williamson, Pelicans (injury replacement)
Trae Young, guard

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