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New Skills Challenge format, new 3-pt champ to be crowned & replacements

Three-point contest field set

The field of eight three-point contest participants was recently announced and it features six first-timers.

Eastern conference guards Fred Vanvleet and Patty Mills are both making their first appearance in the competition while guards CJ McCollum, Luke Kennard and Desmond Bane represent the Western conference first-timers.

Center Karl-Anthony Towns is the final first-time representative in these all-star festivities and enters as this year’s big man entry as the only participant over 6’5”.

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young, who’s probably the favorite on most scoresheets, is taking his second crack at the competition having competed back in 2020.

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine actually has the most experience in the field, making his third trot out to the racks.

LaVine is already a two-time Slam Dunk champion.

None of the participants are previous three-point champions.

The event will take place Saturday, Feb. 19 as part of All-Star Saturday Night from Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio.

New Skills Challenge format to debut Saturday night

The NBA is set to test out a new format for the skills challenge which will feature three three-player teams.

The teams will compete in three separate drills in order to accumulate points to advance to a final fourth round.

  1. Team Shooting: Players will alternate taking 30-second turns shooting from five areas on the floor ranging from 10 to 30 feet while the other two rebound. Point values span from one to five points. The team with the highest score will receive 100 challenge points.

  2. Team Passing: Teams will get 30 seconds to complete passes into “three oversized moving targets.” All of which are different sizes and are sitting at different distances. Teams are not allowed to throw consecutive passes at the same target as points range from two, four and six. All three players play at the same time with the team with the most points tallied receives 100 challenge points.

  3. Team Relay: This will be a timed relay where each player must take turns showcasing five skills (listed below). Team with fastest time receives 200 challenge points.

    1. Outlet passes into moving target from baseline

    2. Dribble through three moving pylons

    3. Make a shot from inside the key

    4. Make a three-pointer from the corner against an automated defender

    5. Dribble to opposite side of court and make basket

  4. Half-court shot: The top two teams who will advance to a half-court shot competition. The first team gets a minute and 30 seconds expiring clock and can set the time to beat with a made shot. The team with the fastest time wins the competition.

The first team will be the hometown favorites made up of centers Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley along with guard Darius Garland.

Three of the four Antetokoumnpo brothers will participate as Milwaukee’s Giannis and Thanasis will team with Alex of the 905 Raptors of the G League.

Lastly, there will be a team of rookies that features Detroit’s Cade Cunningham, Toronto’s Scottie Barnes and Oklahoma City’s Josh Giddey.

The skills challenge will open NBA All-Star Saturday Night, Feb. 19 from Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Meet the Replacements

In the “Greatest Pickup Game Ever,” there’s no need to risk further injury if you’re already dealing with something.

Charlotte guard LaMelo Ball will replace team captain Kevin Durant, who will miss the game due to a knee injury.

Ball becomes the lone representative from the Hornets this season and is the first since guard Kemba Walker did it in 2019.

Additionally, Ball will become the fourth-youngest all-star in NBA history at 20 years, 182 days by the time of the game.

He will enter a slot just below Hall-of-Famer Magic Johnson (20 years, 182 days old) and right above former No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson (20 years, 244 days old).

Boston forward Jayson Tatum is set to replace Durant in the starting lineup.

San Antonio guard Dejounte Murray will make his first appearance in the game, replacing Golden State forward Draymond Green.

Murray will be the Spurs only all-star this year and will be the first since forward LaMarcus Aldridge went back-to-back years from 2017 to 2019.

It may serve as a full-circle moment for Murray, who missed the entire 2018-19 season with a torn ACL.

Even with the injury, Murray was awarded a four-year, $64 million contract (fully guaranteed) and has rewarded San Antonio with his best statistical season so far this year.

Lastly, Cleveland center Jarrett Allen adds to the hometown cooking for Cavaliers.

He becomes the second Cleveland all-star this season, joining guard Darius Garland. Both of which will be on the same team being captained by perhaps Ohio’s proudest son in LeBron James.

Allen will be making his first appearance in his sixth season after spending his first four seasons in Brooklyn. He was sent to Cleveland in January of 2021 as part of that massive haul for all-star guard James Harden.

Ironically enough, Allen enters the all-star field as an injury replacement for Harden.


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