The Skills Challenge is the first event on All-Star Saturday. For the second straight year the Bigs vs Smalls format is back. The Skills Challenge requires two compete simultaneously on an identical course. The fastest player to complete the course will move through to the next round until we are left with the best big man and the best small man. They will then compete for the title. Last year saw an upset, Karl-Anthony Towns defeated Isaiah Thomas in the final round.
Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)
It’s set to be a busy All-Star Weekend for Anthony Davis. Along with being named a Western Conference All-Star starter, Davis is also competing in the Skills Challenge for the second straight year. Despite having an early lead in the first round against DeMarcus Cousins last year, Cousins came back and defeated Davis. Davis who is averaging 28 points and 12 rebounds a game will be looking for revenge.
DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings)
Cousins narrowly missed out on competing in the finals when he was knocked out by eventual champion, Karl-Anthony Towns. Cousins 2016-17 season has been clouded with trade rumours and scandals. Cousins is averaging 28 points and 11 rebounds per game despite leading the league in technical fouls. Cousins is also averaging five assists per game, proving the big man has the necessary passing skills.
Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76’ers)
The Sixers rookie will undoubtedly be the most watched participant in the Skills Challenge. Embiid missed out on this years All-Star game but fans will still get to watch him in action. Despite continuing to be on a minutes restriction Joel ‘The Process’ Embiid has caught the attention of the basketball world, averaging 20 points and eight rebounds a night. Embiid is shooting 47 percent from the field and 37 percent from beyond the arc. If nothing else Embiid will be exciting to watch.
Kristaps Porzingis (New York Knicks)
I think I can speak for everyone when saying I never thought we would see a 7 foot 3 center in the Skills Challenge. Porzingod has proved that he can do pretty much anything at the young age of 21 years old. Porzingis has quickly been hailed the future of the Knicks and it’s not hard to see why. He is averaging 18 points and seven rebounds a game whilst shooting 45 percent from the field and 38 percent from downtown.
Isaiah Thomas (Boston Celtics)
What a difference a season makes. This time last year, Isaiah Thomas finished second in this competition to Karl-Anthony Towns. This All-Star weekend, Thomas has something else to look forward to. His first All-Star game. The 5 foot 9 guard is averaging an incredible 30 points per game to go along with six assists. Thomas who is now known as the ‘King of the fourth quarter’ Is just shy of the 50-40-90 club.
Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz)
The 6 foot 8 guard from Butler has been listed as a small, but is somewhere in the middle. Regardless Hayward is one of the most underrated players in the NBA, leading his Utah Jazz team that sits at 33-19, Hayward is averaging 22 points, six rebounds and three assists per game. Hayward is also making his first All-Star game appearance.
John Wall (Washington Wizards)
This will be John Wall’s third Skills Challenge appearance. Wall similar to Isaiah Thomas has taken his game to a whole new level this season. Wall is averaging 23 points and 10 assists per game and is leading his 30-21 Washington Wizards to a promising playoff run.
Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns)
Devin Booker will play in both the Rising Stars game on Friday and compete in the Skills Challenge. Surprisingly, Booker will not compete in this years Three-Point contest after coming third behind Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson just a year ago. Booker looks set to be an elite shooting guard in the league, already averaging 21 points, shooting 42 percent from the field and 37 percent from deep in only his second season.