Plumlee Ready for Rising Stars Challenge

Getty Images

When the rosters for the Rising Stars Challenge were released, Miles Plumlee’s name was nowhere to be seen.

“I was surprised,” the second-year center said. “I know my teammates were surprised.”

A lot of people were. Plumlee has started every game this season at center for the Suns, who have obliterated preseason expectations by winning 30 of their first 51 games and place in the top eight in the Western Conference.

Plumlee was a big reason for that. After playing just 55 total minutes as a rookie for the Pacers last season, the former Duke standout has flourished in Phoenix. He’s averaging 9.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game while shooting over 50 percent from the field.

“In our style of getting the ball up and down the court, a lot of pick-and-rolls,” Hornacek said of Plumlee’s emergence and roll with the Suns. “He’s great at going to set the pick and rolling hard to the basket. He’s athletic. You can lob it up to the basket to him. Teams have to honor that.”

Plumlee in turn was honored with a spot in the Rising Stars Challenge after Atlanta’s Pero Antic was forced to pull out due to injury. The contest is an All-Star Weekend event that pits the league’s best rookies and sophomores against each other.

The game will hold a special significance of arrival for the Plumlee family, who will have Miles on one team and brother Mason – currently with the Nets – on the other.

“My brother being there is definitely icing on the cake,” the Suns’ Plumlee said. “I’m looking forward to going against him. it’s crazy. We never dreamed about this growing up, to be able to play in this against each other. It’s a really special moment.”

It will also be unique. It didn’t dawn on the 25-year-old that he hadn’t suited up against his brother since…well, forever.

“We’ve always been on the same team,” Plumlee said. “The first time I played against him when the Nets came to town [this season], I didn’t really realize that we hadn’t suited against each other in forever. Elementary, AAU, high school, middle school, college, we were always on the same team, so this will be a lot of fun.”