Pistons’ Drummond earns MVP of Rising Stars game
Andre Drummond doesn’t have the spectacular skills that normally stand out in an All-Star game.
He doesn’t shoot 3-pointers or break ankles with his ball-handling, and Drummond’s defensive skills don’t matter much in an exhibition game.
In Friday night’s Rising Stars Challenge, though, he proved that Grant Hill knew what he was doing when he picked Drummond for his team.
Drummond finished with a Moses Malone triple-double, winning the MVP with 30 points, 14 offensive rebounds and 11 defensive rebounds in Team Hill’s 142-138 victory.
"My teammates and I wanted to win the game, so we had great energy," Drummond said after a bizarre trophy presentation that saw a sponsor drop the trophy while handing it to him. "I told my guys to get out of the way because I was grabbing every rebound."
Drummond was the unquestioned star of the game’s first half, crashing the boards time and again as his teammates tried wild shots from all over the court. Most of those rebounds were immediately converted into put-back dunks, wowing Hill, Chris Webber and the rest of the TNT crew.
"He’s the second-youngest guy out there and he’s proving what you can do just by playing hard in this game," Hill said. "Right now, this young fella is out there showing everyone what he can do. In a year or two, I could see him in the real All-Star Game."
Current players were just as impressed as the retirees in the broadcast booth.
"Andre Drummond a monster right now," Kevin Love tweeted after Drummond put up 16 points and 10 rebounds in the first 10 minutes.
When Drummond returned to the game, he continued to play like someone who had never seen an All-Star game — playing defense and leaping well out of bounds to save a loose ball. He even hit six of eight free throws, something interim Pistons coach John Loyer would love to see next week.
"I’m just having fun and trying to win a basketball game," Drummond said in a halftime interview with Craig Sager. "It’s good to get away from everything and just play a game with my fellow rookies and sophomores."
In the second half, Drummond lost the spotlight to Tim Hardaway Jr., who engaged in a wild scoring duel with Cleveland’s Dion Waiters. Playing alongside Trey Burke for the first time since the national championship game, Hardaway scored a game-high 36 points for Team Webber, including seven 3-pointers.
"Dion made the first three over me, so my teammates gave me the ball right back and I shot a three right back at him," Hardaway said. "After that, we started talking and telling each other to get this show on the road."
Drummond got the last laugh, though, blocking Hardaway’s 3-point attempt with 90 seconds left and giving him the Dikembe Mutombo finger wag.