Panini Rising Stars and Brandon Miller recap

Feb 16, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Team Detlef forward Matas Buzelis (13) of the G League
Feb 16, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Team Detlef forward Matas Buzelis (13) of the G League / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Friday night, the NBA’s all-star weekend got underway, and for the Hornets, it also came to an end. The first and only event featuring a player from the Hornets was the Panini Rising Stars, which included Brandon Miller as one of 30 participants.

The event featured four teams, playing in a single-elimination mini-tournament. In the first round, Miller’s team, coached by Naismith Hall of Famer Pau Gasol, faced off against the team coached by Detlef Schrempf, made up of all G-League players.

Brandon Miller's night

On paper, it seemed like a fairly easy matchup for Team Gasol, led by Miller and fellow rookie Victor Wembanyama, but this did not prove to be the case at all. The G-League team came out looking like the hungriest team in the tournament and was playing with a level of energy and intensity that frankly, team Pau did not look prepared for.

Team Schrempf jumped out to an early lead and team Gasol never quite got their footing in time to recover. Miller was extremely quiet in this one, and it didn’t exactly turn into a national television showcase for the Hornets’ rookie star.

Miller didn’t look too locked in, which is understandable considering the event and the format. He missed a couple of threes and a tough angle layup, while not doing much else. He did have a couple of steals when the game opened up and guys were flying end-to-end. His most notable moment of the game was being the main defender on Matas Buzelis who hit the game-winning shot right over Miller, a long two from the baseline.

Buzelis was one of several G-Leaguers who showed nicely in this game. The 6’11” 19-year-old is one of the top prospects in this year’s draft and his length, athleticism, and shooting ability would actually make a lot of sense for the Hornets.

Mathurin and Team Jalen stole the show

But the star of the night was Bennedict Mathurin of the Indiana Pacers. The second-year NBA player for the hometown team won MVP of the event and led Team Jalen (Rose) to the title, knocking off Team Schrempf).

Mathurin did a little bit of everything, scoring 18 points and hitting the game-winner in round one, he also got into a jawing match with Jaden Ivey, and bet Paolo Banchero $25K on a free throw (he missed the shot and lost the bet).

Overall, it was a fun event and a solid start to All-Star weekend in Indianapolis. And above all else, the most important thing is that Miller came away from the game completely unscathed and we should see him back in action, and looking much more locked in, on Thursday, February 22nd.