DeMar DeRozan is joining Toronto Raptors teammate Kyle Lowry in the NBA all-star game.
The 26-year-old shooting guard was named an Eastern Conference reserve on Thursday, as voted by NBA coaches.
It marks the first time the Raptors have had two players voted onto the all-star squad, and the addition of DeRozan, says coach Dwane Casey, is just reward for a hardworking player and all-around good guy.
"He is what you want an NBA player to be about," said Casey. "He and his family are just beautiful people."
Casey said the all-star honour is an example of DeRozan's commitment to Toronto.
"A few guys have bailed, he stuck with it, he's a loyal young man," Casey said of the six-year Raptors veteran. "He loves the city, loves the organization, loves his teammates. I think this is a testament to that and a reward for that. And most of all a reward for how hard he's worked, those hot afternoons in Compton [Calif.], in his high school gym down there, and working is paying off."
The Feb. 14 game at the Air Canada Centre marks the second appearance for both DeRozan and Lowry, who was voted an all-star starter last week by fans.
DeRozan, whose torn groin tendon squashed his hopes of making last season's all-star affair, is averaging 23.0 points a night this season. He and Lowry — with 20.9 points a game — combine for the highest-scoring backcourt in the Eastern Conference.
"Both those guys have done it different ways, but both of them it's a testament to how hard they work and the time they put in," Casey said. "I don't think if you looked in a crystal ball, you would've said you'd have two all-stars starting for the Toronto Raptors four or five years ago."
Raptors Vince Carter and Antonio Davis both played in the 2001 all-star game, but Davis was selected as a replacement for an injured Theo Ratliff.
Toronto becomes the first host city since Los Angeles in 1972 (Jerry West and Gail Goodrich) to have a pair of guards in the game.
Casey said he'd lobbied his fellow Eastern Conference coaches to vote for DeRozan, who he said is a "consummate teammate."
"He's great . . . always looking out for the team, his teammates, any time he gets a merchandise endorsement or whatever, he shares it with everybody, which always makes everybody happy," Casey said. "He's been a great young man to work with, to be with, to go through wars with, to be in a fox hole with, had a lot of ups and downs."
The announcement was made before the Raptors tipped off against the visiting New York Knicks.
Eastern Conference reserves:
- DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors
- Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
- Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
- Chris Bosh, Miami Heat
- John Wall, Washington Wizards
- Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks
- Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics
Western Conference reserves:
- Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
- Klay Thomson, Golden State Warriors
- DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
- James Harden, Houston Rockets
- LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs
- Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
- Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans