Hawks’ Delaney left out of Rising Stars Challenge

Malcolm Delaney will get a vacation during the NBA All-Star break.

The Hawks veteran rookie was not selected for the Rising Stars Challenge when the rosters of 20 first- and second-year players was released by the league Wednesday.

Delaney has played all 45 games for the Hawks this season heading into Wednesday night’s game against the Bulls. He has averages of 6.1 points, 2.9 assists and 1.8 rebounds in 17.4 minutes. He has .413 shooting percentage. Among rookies, Delaney ranks third in free-throw percentage and assists, eighth in field-goal percentage and 12th in points.

“Obviously, all the guys who make it are deserving and having good years,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “I look at the list and I feel Malcolm definitely deserves to be on that list. If you look at analytics, look at minutes played, look at how his team is performing. I just think he is clearly one of the guys who deserves to be on the U.S. roster for the Rising Stars game. I guess I might be in the minority.”

Delaney is an older rookie as the 27-year old after playing five seasons overseas after leaving Virginia Tech.

He went through a shooting slump several weeks ago but has again re-established himself as a key member of the Hawks bench. Delaney has made at least one 3-pointer in each of the past eight games, shooting 10 of 18 from long range during the stretch. He has just nine 3-pointers in the first 37 games.

“That was like the worst shooting slump,” Delaney said recently. “I’m used to shooting slumps but I’m also used to starting out a little hotter. It really bothered me. But I was in the gym the whole time. I was shooting the ball well outside of the game so I never really got down.”

Delaney was hard on himself during the slump, which is a point that Budenholzer raised with him.

“He is shooting the ball really well,” Budenholzer said. “The great thing is to see him make some 3’s too. He’s got the great mid-range game, the great pull-up game. Whether it’s from college to the NBA or the European to the NBA 3-point line, he’s getting a lot of reps before practice, after practice. He’s going to get more comfortable. That will be a big part of his growth and our growth.”

The Hawks’ bench has been a strength of the team — early in the season and as of late. In between, part of the reason the team struggled with a 1-10 record, there were some issues. Thabo Sefolosha moved into the starting lineup. Tim Hardaway Jr. started several games. Kyle Korver was traded.

Delaney acknowledged he took on too much during the stretch.

“I felt like I had to pick it up a little more and play a bigger role,” Delaney said. “Coach kept relying on me, played me some big minutes and it helped by confidence.”

The Rising Stars Challenge will be played next month as part of All-Star Weekend in New Orleans. The U.S. Team consists of the Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns, the Suns’ Devin Booker and Marquese Chriss, the Pacers’ Myles Turner, the Bucks’ Malcolm Brogdon, the Lakers’ Brandon Ingram and D’Angelo Russell, the Hornets’ Frank Kaminsky, the 76ers’ Jahlil Okafor and the Spurs’ Jonathon Simmons.

The World Team consists of the 76ers’ Joel Embiid and Dario Saric, the Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic, Emmanuel Mudiay and Jamal Murray, the Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis, the Jazz’s Dante Exum and Trey Lyles, the Pelicans’ Buddy Hield and the Thunders’ Domantas Sabonis.