Column: Why Mike Scott belongs in the Rising Stars challenge

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

Many expected John Jenkins to be the one who would make a significant jump from the Hawks 2012 Draft Class in the 2013-14 NBA season. That hasn't been the case for a multitude of reasons. However, the other 2012 Hawks pick, Mike Scott, has made a significant jump this season and deserves serious consideration to be included in this year's Rookie-Sophomore game.

The NBA draft lottery generates a plethora of basketball discussion every year. Some is positive and some is negative, but it definitely keeps people talking about the NBA during the dormant period before Summer League. The 2013-14 NBA Draft is one of the most potentially-loaded drafts since 2003. 30 new mock drafts have probably been published since I sat down to write this piece. It's the lottery selections that people are interested in seeing. Second-round picks obviously aren't as flashy as the lottery picks, but they're still a huge asset to teams who know how to develop young talent. Atlanta Hawks forward Mike Scott was a second-round selection in 2012.

Scott's rookie year was a rocky one. He was never a consistent part of the rotation until the last month of the season where he played 120 minutes. Scott averaged just 9.5 mpg in 2012-13, but in those limited minutes, Scott showed he could score at the NBA level. Scott's skillset doesn't really fit the prototype of a power or small forward. Scott had a TS% of 53 percent, a PER of 16.3, and an eFG% of 47 percent in his rookie year. He was taking almost four shots a night in just 9.5 minutes of action. Scott likes to shoot, and can, but almost all of his shots in 2012-13 were 2-pointers. Scott attempted just one 3-pointer total during his rookie campaign -- and missed.

New Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer has Scott taking a different approach on offense in 2013-14. Scott has already taken 84 3-pointers this season and we're not even at the halfway point in the season yet. The Hawks are moving the basketball well, running a lot of pick-and-roll, and taking more 3-pointers. Yes, Scott is a gunner, he's averaging 15.1 FGA per 36 minutes, but the shot selection is much better than a year ago. Scott is shooting 57.5 percent on 2-pointers, up 10 percent from a season ago, and shooting slightly below league average from 3-point land at 31 percent. Scott also boasts a 18.1 PER (20 is All-Star level), a TS% of 57 percent, and an eFG% of 54 percent. That kind of jump from Year 1 to Year 2 in the league should be more than enough evidence to include Scott in the 2014 Rising Stars challenge.

Since Al Horford was lost for the season, Scott's role on the team has expanded. Scott is now playing close to 20 minutes or more every night to help shoulder the scoring load left behind by Horford's departure from the lineup. It's a tall task for a second-year player, but Scott has handled it well for the most part. Sure, he's got a lot of work to do defensively but it's not unfixable. Since Horford has gone down, Scott is shooting 35 percent from 3-point land, taking advantage on his trips to the free-throw line, and has had big games against Indiana, Miami and Houston.

A lot of fans seem to forget that All-Star weekend is not meant to be taken so seriously. The fan vote is in place for that very reason. It's a time for fans to sit back and relax and see their favorite players play with or against their other favorite players. The more personality and fun, the better, and Scott has a lot of it.

Scott recently had a Twitter Q&A session that I took part in. I made sure to ask the tough questions.

Scott is not only active on Twitter, but he's a must-follow on Instagram as well.

Examples:

His sock game is always on point.

He's not afraid to say what we all thought as kids, well, maybe not all of us.

He enjoys the finer things in life.

Scott has made huge strides this season. He's become a significant piece in the Hawks rotation and should only get better with this Hawks' regime. As the old saying goes, you can't have a 2014 Rising Stars challenge without Mike Scott. Well, that may not be a real saying, but Scott has definitely earned it and should be included in this year's game.

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