The BBVA All-Star Rising Stars Challenge is starting to look more and more like the regular All-Star Game for two reasons. First, defense is considered taboo. Second, the players' performances are absolutely incredible.
The second reason is one I can definitely get behind.
There were a lot of players that had great nights on Friday. Here are my top-five performers.
Minnesota Timberwolves rookie point guard Ricky Rubio showed off the finesse that got him to the Rising Stars Challenge.
He is extremely comfortable with the ball in his hands and sees plays developing in a different way than most players—truly a joy to watch.
In the video, he rebounds the ball, dribbles it in between DeMarcus Cousins' legs while looking down the court, and then serves a perfect lob for Blake Griffin to stuff away.
Rubio finished with 12 points and seven assists.
Greg Monroe had a quiet performance in the Rising Stars Challenge, which is hard to do with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
The Detroit Pistons' center has had a terrific first half to the 2011-12 NBA season and was able to show a larger audience that there is at least one player (maybe two, with fellow Rising Star Brandon Knight) to be excited about in Detroit.
The versatile Monroe led all players with five steals and added a block to cap an excellent night.
Just one year ago, John Wall was the hottest name in the NBA. Today, he is rarely mentioned in highlight reels.
It's not just the emergence of Jeremy Lin that is to blame for Wall's decline in fame. It started to decline much earlier in the season when the Washington Wizards got off to such a terrible start (7-26).
You could see moments in the Rising Stars Challenge when Wall took it upon himself to remind people why he was the top overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
Wall tallied 17 points, eight assists, six rebounds and even a couple of blocked shots, like the one in the video. Wall, not Ty Lawson, remains the game's fastest player.
Norris Cole's star has risen primarily as a capable backup with the vaunted Miami Heat, but he has started to make a name for himself. Friday's Rising Star Challenge was another step in that direction.
With 18 points, six assists and four steals, it's easy to see why. His four three-pointers were also good for second-most in the game.
The MVP of the Rising Stars Challenge was awarded to the Cleveland Cavaliers' rookie point guard, Kyrie Irving, and he earned it.
Irving led all scorers with 34 points, was second with nine assists and went 12-for-13 from the field, including a perfect 8-for-8 from three-point range. He was clicking on all cylinders.
It's clear that Irving is here to stay as a high-quality point guard in the NBA, destined for numerous All-Star games in the near future. He might even have the stuff to bring the Cavs out of the post-LeBron era.