Did you see the BBVA Rising Stars challenge last night? Team USA vs. The World? If you missed it, and didn't have internet to watch twitter and vine all night long, then you effectively missed Rudy Gobert 's third or fourth coming out party. Gobert's first was at the NBA Draft Combine back in 2014, then his next two were at the Las Vegas Summer league in 2015, followed shortly by the FIBA World Cup that summer. After making those in the basketball know take notice early this season with his statistical dominance, the rest of the world got a chance to finally catch up and marvel at his ability.
While his shoes looked like they would be the star that night, his play made his shoes look dull.
In a serious MVP Snub Gobert managed to put up 18 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks (should have been 6 or 7), and 1 steal.
His 7/10 shooting and violent dunks were nice, but his defense, particularly this block on Nerlens Noel, set the tone.
Sit down, Noel. Christmas time is over.
The world team won last night, and when the rosters were announced many people felt like they would.
- Canadian guard Andrew Wiggins did win the MVP award on the back of a 22 point, 6 rebound, 4 assist, 1 steal, 1 block performance.
- Slav shooters Bojan Bogdanovic and Nikola Mirotic combined to shoot 12-19 on their way to a combined 32 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block
- Greek (ethnic Nigerian) all-around player Giannis Antetokounmpo had 12 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, and 2 blocks
- German polygraph test failure, and point guard Dennis Schroder added 13 points, 9 assists, and 3 steals
- Senegal's own Gorgui Dieng finished with 14 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and 1 block
As a result, there was almost nothing left for Australian point guard Dante Exum to do, but break ankles. He also finished with 4 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. The two Jazz players on the world team, flanked by such great international talent (point guards, wings, and bigmen) were almost by themselves too much for Team USA.
That's not to say that the Ameicans didn't also have solid performances from key players. Zach LaVine ball hogged his way to 22 points (11 shots, 2 assists for a point guard), Victor Oladipo scored 22 off of 21 shots, and aside from Mason Plumlee -- none of their bigs showed up. Trey Burke had a very solid game off the bench, with 17 points, 4 assists, 1 rebound, and 2 steals. He shot 8/14 and had a nice highlight move on the break.
As Utah Jazz fans it's obvious we're happy to have our young guys even recognized enough to get in this game. Gordon Hayward only made it in his soph season, and Derrick Favors too as an injury replacement to Tiago Splitter. Enes Kanter and Alec Burks were both not in this game in either of their eligible years. Trey made it last year, and proved he belongs in this kind of format with his strong play this year.
Utah's younger guys are playing more now, playing better, and the franchise is getting a quicker return on their investment now. It's progress.
The World won last night, but in the long run, the world will be taken over by the Utah Jazz -- if they can keep this core together.