It's never a bad thing when you are just 25 games into your NBA career and you get tabbed to spend the All-Star break at the NBA All-Star game. Phoenix Suns rookie Markieff Morris, the 13th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, was selected as one of nine first-year players to participate in the newfangled Rising Stars game in Orlando at the end of February.

The Rising Stars game replaces the old Rookie-Sophomore game and adopts are more fan-friendly approach by having celebrity stars pick their teams from a pool of players. Morris will join these NBA Rookies and Sophomores in the game:

MarShon Brooks New Jersey G-F 6-5 200 Providence/USA R

DeMarcus Cousins Sacramento C 6-11 270 Kentucky/USA 1

Landry Fields New York G 6-7 210 Stanford/USA 1

Paul George Indiana G-F 6-8 215 Fresno State/USA 1

Blake Griffin L.A. Clippers F 6-10 251 Oklahoma/USA 1

Gordon Hayward Utah F 6-8 210 Butler/USA 1

Kyrie Irving Cleveland G 6-3 191 Duke/USA R

Brandon Knight Detroit G 6-3 189 Kentucky/USA R

Kawhi Leonard San Antonio G-F 6-7 225 San Diego State/USA R

Greg Monroe Detroit C 6-11 250 Georgetown/USA 1

Markieff Morris Phoenix F 6-10 245 Kansas/USA R

Ricky Rubio Minnesota G 6-4 180 FC Barcelona/Spain R

Tiago Splitter San Antonio F-C 6-11 240 Saski Baskonia/Brazil 1

Tristan Thompson Cleveland F 6-9 227 Texas/USA R

Evan Turner Philadelphia G-F 6-7 205 Ohio State/USA 1

John Wall Washington G 6-4 195 Kentucky/USA 1

Kemba Walker Charlotte G 6-1 172 Connecticut/USA R

Derrick Williams Minnesota F 6-8 241 Arizona /USA R

Here's what the Suns press release has to say about Keif:

Morris earns the honor after averaging 7.2 points, and an NBA rookie-best 5.0 rebounds in 20.6 minutes while appearing in all 25 of the Suns' games this season. In addition to rebounding, the versatile power forward also leads all rookies in three-point percentage (.460), seventh-best in the NBA overall, and ranks eighth among first-year players in scoring. Morris is one of seven rookies who have recorded a double-double this season.

It is fitting that Morris is the first Sun since Stoudemire to earn a Rising Stars selection because the former University of Kansas standout is having the best statistical season by a Phoenix rookie since Stoudemire. Morris is averaging the most points and the most rebounds by a Suns rookie since Stoudemire in 2002-03, and is nearly one of only nine first-year players in franchise history to average at least eight points and five rebounds.

TNT's Kenny Smith will serve as the honorary Commissioner and Ernie Johnson will host the live BBVA Rising Stars Challenge Draft on Thursday, Feb. 16, on NBA TV at 7 p.m. ET.

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A Nice Way to Celebrate Your Birthday


Last season all the numbers pointed to Steve Nash earning an All-Star bid but one: the Phoenix Suns’ record. Despite ranking near the top of all the advanced stats and scoring, assisting and...

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The Phoenix Suns of the past decade have been chastised for not drafting and developing quality young talent, and perhaps that indictment can be summed up by the fact that Steve Nash (1997), Shawn...

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Suns Win. Again!(AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

Last night the Suns played a superb half of basketball. It was what we all like to call "Suns Basketball," which is just a different way of saying these guys are playing up to their potential. The;Suns are 5-2 in their last 7 games. Why? We could dig into numbers or come up with some pretty fancy graphs. But we need not; we've been watching the games. It's pretty clear to see why the Suns have found some recent success.

The Suns recent run can be attributed to a combination of things:



1. Solidification of the Rotation-Brown and Warrick sit, Price's court time diminishes, Redd plays and he's hitting shots, Chill plays and is rebounding and defending. Frye is hitting shots. The key here is SCORING. Price is a defensive specialist, not a big threat from the wing. Sebastian Telfair has an established role, and isn't an awful stop-gap for when Nash needs to rest. Warrick has had flashes, but he's the odd man out against two larger, more physical players in Frye and and Morris.

2. Offense-in the last 5 games, Channing Frye has gone 40% from the field. In the prior 5, he shot 20%. Michael Redd has 3 straight double digit scoring efforts and has played the most minutes in his short tenure with the Suns. These guys are finding their legs. Period. Frye can shoot, we know it. It's not like he isn't trying to get back on track, and we also know that the Suns are a much better team with Frye producing. Redd is also getting in shape. He's healthy, so now its only a question of shaking the rust off. His shots last night were confident. Redd, back in his old stomping ground, was confident. Shooters need confidence plain and simple. And these guys seem to be gaining it.

3. Dudley and Frye Return to Starting Lineup. Dudley's numbers as a starter are always better than when he comes off the bench. Maybe because he gets starters minutes, maybe because Nash is on the floor to find him. Morris clearly wants to come off the bench. Wish granted. Refer to #2 above, add these two to the starting lineup and have them produce. Frye stretches the floor, makes his big defender come out to guard him, which allows Gortat and Co space down low to work for offensive rebounds.

4. Iffy competition. Some will no doubt point out that the last five victories should have a tiny little asterisk next to them. Atlanta without Horford, Milwaukee without Bogut, Charlotte sucks, New Orleans sucks, Memphis without Randolph. Ugly losses to top WC squads-Dallas (twice), Portland, and Houston. But guess what? I don't care. As Elvis plastered all over his airplane, you gotta "T.C.B." Take Care of Business. Against garbage foes and the best of the best.

5. Energy, Defense, and Focus. They all go hand in hand. Said Alvin Gentry before the Bobcat game:

"I am more concerned about the overall energy level as anything. To me that's the most important thing. We've just had too much of a discrepancy and that area right there is something we've got to get back and be consistent with, competing and playing hard night in and night out."


It is all good news for the moment. Winning does that. But the standings remain the same. The Suns are third in the Pacific and 12th in the WC. It will take a Herculian effort to turn it around and sustain this level of play for the remainder of the season. But maybe, just maybe...Anything can happen, right?

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