Award Watch: One Overlooked Rookie Finally Got To Shine At The Rising Stars Challenge

02.15.16 8 months ago
mario hezonja


This season, Mario Hezonja has been sort of the forgotten rookie among what’s been a very fruitful draft class.

He’s only averaging 15 minutes per game, and hasn’t been terribly effective in that time, either. It’s not that concerning, really — as you can see from the above photo, he’s still an infant at 20 years old, the sort of undeveloped lump of clay Kristaps Porzingis was also supposed to be. But for all Hezonja could still be, he hasn’t shown the single most exciting part of his game: his sheer audacity.

Look at the crazy ish he pulled off as a 19-year-old in Spain:

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Hezonja’s coach in Orlando is Scott Skiles, who is well known as a no-nonsense coach who prefers to play veterans who stay in their lane; not the ideal coach to just let Mario spread his wings. That’s not to say it’s the wrong approach for Hezonja’s long-term development, just that it means we may not get the ballsy gunner version of Super Mario some thought might make him an instant fan favorite. But on Friday night at the Rising Stars Challenge, without coaches or defense to worry about, Mario finally got to express himself, and he reminded us that he can still be a hell of an entertainer:

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