The NBA Skills Challenge is getting a makeover in 2016.
Desperately needing to be galvanized, the competition that has previously been reserved for guards only is set to welcome frontcourt players to the mix. Back from last year is the bracket, head-to-head format, and with the way it’s set up, we’re guaranteed to have a guard going up against a big man in the finals.
That should add some much needed excitement to the sometimes lackluster event. Here’s a look at everything you need to know to watch, along with the complete list of participants:
Skills Challenge Viewing Info
Date: Saturday, February 13, 2016
Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV Channel: TNT in the United States, TSN in Canada, SportsNet in Canada
Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics
Jordan Clarkson, Los Angeles Lakers
C.J. McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers
Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver Nuggets (replaces Patrick Beverley, injury)
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
Out of the backcourt players, it’s hard not to like Isaiah Thomas, the truest point guard of the bunch and easily the quickest. Knocking down that final three-point shot is going to be critical, so prolific gunner C.J. McCollum might be a sneaky pick here, but I still like the electrifying Thomas, who is knockdown shooter himself and will be looking for redemption after being ousted by Patrick Beverley in the first round last year.
Over on the frontcourt side of the bracket, Draymond Green will be the popular choice, as he’s basically a point guard trapped in a 6-foot-7, 230-pound frame. I’m going a different route, though, and picking Anthony Davis, for the sole reason he can cover the length of the court in about three steps.
In the finals, I’ll take Thomas. He–or any guard–won’t hear the end of it if he loses to a “big ugly,” so motivation won’t be a problem. And as long as he’s going at full speed, he should have no trouble taking home the title.