Serving as a youthful preview to Sunday’s All-Star Game, the Rising Stars Challenge proved to be as exciting and meaningless as always. While one Minnesota player secured the MVP trophy in the game, another was leaving his hometown crowd seeking more.
During a flurry of frantic alley-oops and mini three-point contests, the USA defeated the World team, 157-154, at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Several players put up absurd scoring numbers in the exhibition, but Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine was ultimately crowned MVP behind his 30 point, 7 rebound performance.
All 20 rookies and sophomores took full advantage of the lack of defense. Rookies Kristaps Porzingis and Emmanuel Mudiay each scored 30 points for the World team, whose late rally came up short in the final seconds.
This marks the second consecutive year that a Minnesota player took home the award, as Andrew Wiggins earned MVP honors at last season’s Rising Stars game. This year, Wiggins put up 29 points on 13-15 shooting in the loss, but received an excessive amount of cheers in front of his hometown fans.
“He’s a rock star in his hometown,” LaVine observed after the game.
Even though Wiggins will be under contract with Minnesota through at least 2018, the fans in Toronto already treat him as though he plays for the Raptors. With LaVine and Karl-Anthony Towns on board, the Wolves have assembled a promising young nucleus around Wiggins that might convince him to stay.
If he ever decides to return home, though, there’s no question that Toronto will be waiting for him with open arms.