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Rising Stars: Rodions Kurucs

Rookie forward to play for World team in Rising Stars game at All-Star Weekend

The Brooklyn Nets are sending a strong contingent to Charlotte, with four players representing the franchise at 2019 All-Star Weekend. Each day this week we'll profile one of the Nets with a ticket to Charlotte, followed by our All-Star Weekend primer on Friday.

Monday: Jarrett Allen
Today: Rodions Kurucs

EVENT

2019 MTN DEW ICE Rising Stars
Friday, Feb. 15 at 9 p.m. ET

Twenty first- and second-year players will face off in a United States vs. World team format.

PUNCHING HIS TICKET

Selected 40th overall by the Nets back in June, Latvia's Rodions Kurucs is viewed as one of the steals of the 2018 NBA Draft. He's also the lowest-drafted player in this year's Rising Stars game. He leads all 2018 second-round picks in points per game (8.9) and is second in rebounds per game (3.7). Kurucs is also fourth among all international rookies in points per game and third in rebounds per game.

EVENT BREAKDOWN

Kurucs will team up with Toronto's OG Anunoby, Phoenix's DeAndre Ayton, Sacramento's Bogdan Bogdanovic, Dallas' Luka Doncic, the Los Angeles Clippers' Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Chicago's Lauri Markkanen, Minnesota's Josh Okogie, Cleveland's Cedi Osman and Philadelphia's Ben Simmons.

On the other side, the United States team will feature Kurucs' Brooklyn teammate Jarrett Allen.

RODIONS' 2018-19 SEASON

Frontcourt injuries opened up some surprising early-season minutes for Kurucs, and he made a quick impression with his energy and athleticism. He moved into a regular rotation spot on Dec. 7, the night the Nets ended an eight-game losing streak and began a seven-game winning streak with an overtime win against Toronto. After a string of impressive performances, Kurucs was in the starting lineup a week later and has started Brooklyn's last 29 games.

Kurucs posted back-to-back double-doubles against Phoenix and Charlotte in December and has notched his career high of 24 points on two occasions -- against Indiana and Boston.

NETS COACH KENNY ATKINSON ON RODIONS KURUCS

"Out of left-field. Out of nowhere. Obviously he was known in circles in Europe, got signed with Barcelona. Humble. Innocent. He's an innocent dude. I think he just got thrown in the NBA, 'OK, I'll just start playing in the NBA. OK, you want me to start? I'll start.' Surprising athleticism. Speed. Length. Maybe Sean (Marks) and Trajan (Langdon) knew because they saw him play a lot. I think us as coaches, just surprised the way he can compete on an athletic level. And then energy, how high-energy he is and how active. Steals and rebounds and tips. Him and D'Angelo (Russell) have got that little backdoor thing going. Likeable."

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