NEW YORK -- It's not often that the No. 1 overall pick in the draft is traded before he ever plays a minute for the team that drafted him.
On Friday night, Minnesota's budding star and the Rookie of the Year front-runner showcased his rapidly improving game at the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge. Wiggins took home MVP honors with 22 points, six rebounds, four assists and one nasty 360-degree dunk in a 121-112 victory by the World team over the U.S. at Barclays Center.
Wiggins, the Canadian prospect who played at Kansas, continues to show the type of potential that Cleveland had to surrender in order to acquire Love. Minnesota got Wiggins, the 2013 No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, Thaddeus Young and a $6.3 million trade exception in the Love deal.
"I think it was the best move for me," Wiggins said of being traded. "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."
"There [in Cleveland], I would have been more of a role player," Wiggins added. "Here, I'm getting more time to shine and do what I was put in this league to do. And I'm enjoying the process."
In the new format in which first- and second-year players from the U.S. play the first- and second-year international players, Wiggins stood out so much that USA coach Alvin Gentry said the Rising Stars Challenge should undergo another makeover.
"I look at a guy like Wiggins and his potential is unlimited," said Gentry, the Warriors assistant coach said. "I also would like to say that I think we've got to rearrange this game -- it should be North America against the World. If we get Canada, we have Wiggins on our team."
Wiggins was one of three players in the game (USA's Victor Oladipo of Orlando and Zach LaVine of Minnesota both scored 22 points) to tie for game-high honors. But Wiggins hit 8 of 11 shots, six coming off dunks, none more spectacular than his 360 all alone.
He also scored on a reverse layup while being fouled and converted the three-point play with 1:33 remaining to put the World up 115-111. Wiggins continues to get more aggressive and more comfortable with each game.
"When he first came into the league, he was really trying to figure out and identify himself and was kind of passive," said Minnesota teammate Shabazz Muhammad, who scored 10 points for the U.S. "Now I think he is really aggressive and getting after it."
"Being traded, sometimes it can be good, sometimes it can be bad," Muhammad added. "I definitely think he has a chip on his shoulder and he loves Minnesota. He likes a team that is going to want him. He is going to be a great talent."
The Timberwolves had four players in Friday night's Rising Stars Game (Gorgui Dieng was the fourth). Of course, one really stood out -- the one who wasn't drafted by Minnesota but has become the franchise centerpiece.
"The future is bright for us," Wiggins said. "[We had] the most people in a rookie-sophomore game. So it shows us rising. It shows what we can be in the future."