Andrew Wiggins wins MVP of Rising Stars, just first award he wins this year


NEW YORK — Andrew Wiggins got a little practice Friday in talking to the media after winning an award. He’s going to need that.

Wiggins scored 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting and picked up the MVP of the Rising Stars Challenge at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. It’s a nice piece of hardware Wiggins was handed, but he’s going to pick up a far more coveted one for rookies after the season ends. Friday night was just the appetizer.

Wiggins scoring helped lead the World to a 121-112 win in an exhibition game that has about as much defense as you’d expect.In that kind of free-flowing atmosphere Wiggins’ athleticism is on full display.

“It was all fun,” Wiggins said after the game. “It was competitive, but it was fun too. I think we gave the fans and all the people watching something to watch, some entertainment.”

Wiggins was the No. 1 pick of the Cavaliers last June but by the time he was playing for Cleveland at Sumer League he was forced into the middle of one of the biggest NBA stories of the year — Minnesota demanded him in return for sending Kevin Love to Cleveland (to pair with LeBron James). At the time it was incredibly awkward for Wiggins. However, in the end this path may be better for his game because he’s getting more minutes and being put in more pressure situations with the Timberwolves than he would have been for the win-now Cavs.

“I think it was the best move for me,” Wiggins said about the trade. “It gave me more room and put me in a position where I could grow up faster. In the league, that’s always what’s best for you. (In Cleveland) I would have been more of a role player. Here I’m getting more time to shine and do what was put in this league to do.”

Wiggins is growing. Fast.

He had a rough start to the season, but in his last 20 games he’s averaged 17.4 points a game, shooting a respectable 45 percent from the floor. His jumper still needs work, he is turning the ball over almost as much as he is making an assist, but he is getting better. He is figuring out how to use his athleticism in the NBA.

But put him in a defense free exhibition and he will put on a show. And win a nice trophy for the case.

It will not be the last trophy he picks up as a rookie.