Southeast Notes: Okongwu, Anthony, Heat

Hawks big man Onyeka Okongwu believes he deserves to be part of this year’s Rising Stars Game over All-Star Weekend, he told Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. On the season, he’s averaged 9.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 23.3 minutes per game, though he’s only played in 16 contests to date.

“I think I should, honestly,” Okongwu said. “Everybody can see what I do out there on the court. I think my play really speaks for itself, especially defensively with what I’ve been able to do, guarding on the ball and helping. Offensively, I’ve got my confidence back. I’ve doubled my points scoring to almost 10.

“At the end of the day, we’re on a six-game winning streak playing good basketball, and I’m part of the mix, which is always a blessing. I’m thankful to be able to be on the Hawks, and we’re playing good basketball. I think, all things considered, I should get a Rising Stars nod.”

Okongwu also discussed other topics in the interview, including who he compares himself to as a player and what the team’s expectations are. Atlanta selected the 21-year-old with the No. 6 pick in 2020.

Here are some other notes from the Southeast Division:

  • Magic guard Cole Anthony was fined $25K for directing profane and derogatory remarks toward a game official, the NBA announced this week (Twitter link). Anthony made his comments after the team’s 111-102 loss to the Clippers on Wednesday. He finished with 19 points, 11 assists and three steals in the contest, shooting 5-of-11 (45%).
  • Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel examines whether the Heat need more versatile players in the closing moments of a game. Miami has finished with either Tyler Herro or Duncan Robinson in most of its close games, adding offense but hurting its defense. Once Victor Oladipo returns, head coach Erik Spoelstra will have another defensive option to insert when necessary.
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