The Pelicans didn't have a horse in this race, but it didn't take away as much as I thought it might from viewing this exhibition. Unlike past competitions that pitted rookies versus second year players, there existed a more obvious competitive vibe. Both sides were rather equally skilled and experienced, plus each side didn't want to go home the loser. Also, who knows, perhaps one or two of these players will end up in New Orleans at some point in the future. Who wouldn't want to play alongside Anthony Davis?
The game started off at a frenetic pace and it carried through the entire first half. The World team raced out to an early advantage, but the USA squad closed the gap just before halftime. In the second half, both teams started to play a little more defense. As to where the teams combined for 136 points in the first half, only 97 were scored in the second half. Ultimately, the World and their versatile length proved to be too much for the USA team, 121-112.
- Andrew Wiggins was voted as the MVP: 22 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 block/steal. It's not that he was bad, but I counted at least 6 dunks from the Canadian and I thought several of his teammates were more deserving.
- Rudy Gobert was probably my favorite World performer as he dominated the paint when he was in the game. He had a game-high 12 rebounds and added 18 points, 1 steal and 3 blocks, including this gem:
- Coming in a close second was Giannis Antetokounmpo: 12 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks. It's not irrational to think he could become the 2nd best two-way player someday behind AD. His length combined with his quickness posed all kinds of problems for players on offense. If his shot continues to improve, look out NBA.
- Nikola Mirotic is going to be another good difference maker in this league. He combines good aggression with a lovely perimeter shot and good handles for his size. He ended up with the best +/- of 19 on the night.
- On the USA side, Victor Oladipo and Zach LaVine both scored 22 points. Although it took Oladipo 21 shots, it's obvious he's a wonderfully gifted guard who tried to do too much tonight. LaVine, in his own right, is quite intriguing. In the first half, Grant Hill compared him to Russell Westbrook and I didn't hate the remark at all. The extra gear LaVine can shift into when dribbling up the floor and the hops he displays around the rim are reminiscent of Russ. Only time will tell whether LaVine ends up having a solid motor too.
- Trey Burke scored 17 points on 8 of 14 shooting, but I'm not a fan of his future. Most of the other guards had better size and/or speed and it really showed when he was on defense. No wonder Coach Snyder demoted him and told him he's got to improve on that end before he can return to the starting lineup.
- Nerlens Noel was quiet: 4 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks. In watching him closely, there were several things that bothered me. First, for his length, his gait is unimpressive. As to where Anthony Davis can take two steps in any direction and get to almost any part of the floor, Noel takes much smaller steps. Hence, he's not going to get by or beat as many people as he should. Second, he gambles quite a bit defensively, reaching with his hands instead of using his feet more often. His per 36 PF's are fine but I can't help but wonder how many times he's left standing after missing a steal attempt and his assignment gets by him for the score. Third, I still don't see any offensive skills.
The truest part of ESPN's RPM stat is Nerlens Noel being ranked as the worst offensive player in the league.— Michael Pina (@MichaelVPina) February 14, 2015
For those who watched the game, what stood out for you?
Tomorrow is All-Star Saturday Night, where among other competitions, the Slam Dunk and 3 point contest will take place. HOWEVER, well before that, be sure to catch (or DVR) NBA Stuff at noon on NBAtv. You don't want to miss Ryan Anderson and Davis bowling!