If anything proved that the NBA is now a global league, it was the organisation’s decision to make this year’s rising stars game a World vs USA event on the opening night of All-Star weekend last Friday.
The league can now boast talent from every corner of the world; from Croatia to Canada. This game allows the young guys to show off their talent amongst their peers of a similar age and with the crazy performances that have accompanied this game due to the lack of defence, it always makes it fun to watch.
This year’s game night however, was fairly inconsistent to say the least as the crowd and players lacked the energy and enthusiasm of other Rising Star games, but there were some standout moments and Andrew Wiggins certainly made his mark on this game, showing that he could be the best young player in the league.
The Canadian illustrated his immense talent once again and winning this year’s rising stars MVP puts him with some elite company, including Carmelo, Iverson, Durant and Irving to name a few. Wiggins had 22 points with eight from eleven shooting on the night and again showed that he has the arsenal to be superstar in the NBA.
While the game lacked the barrage of insane highlights that other years have had, we did see some brilliant dunks, courtesy of a Wiggins 360 and a powerful Mason Plumlee flush, but this writer’s favourite player to watch out there was Zach LaVine.
The former UCLA Bruin provided an amazing assist for that Plumlee dunk and then went for one of his own, switching hands as he spilt the defence. The newly-crowned slam dunk champion had 22 on the night and this writer can’t wait to see LaVine, Wiggins and Rubio combine together for many years to come.
Other World stars that stood out were Bojan Bogdanovic from Croatia who dropped 16 on his home court of Brooklyn. Nickolas Mirotic of Chicago and Montenegro put on a shooting clinic, contributing another 16.
Rudy Golbert of France and the Utah Jazz showed why he is considered one of the best prospects at centre, going for 18 points, twelve rebounds and three blocks. He may have also had a shout for the MVP trophy if Wiggins wasn’t on fire.
Milwaukee’s Giannis ‘The Greek Freak’ Antetokounmpo went for twelve points and ten rebounds and Minnesota’s Gorgui Dieny of Senegal finished with 14 points.
For team USA, Victor Oladipo of the Orlando Magic also went for 22 but had a fairly poor shooting night going for eight-for-21, while Trey Burke of Jazz had 17 and Mason Plumlee had 13.
The night however, belonged to the world superstars as they ran out 121-112 winners, and while the game wasn’t the greatest, it did provide some great moments, also, it was interesting to see how the best young players matched-up against their American counterparts.
Ciaran Darcy, Pundit Arena
Featured image By Maxim Pierre (Flickr: Brooklyn Nets Pre Game Warmups) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons