NBA Skills Challenge Players – Ranking All the Participants
Ever since Jason Kidd won the inaugural NBA Skills Challenge in 2003, this event has picked up steam during NBA All-Star weekend. Names like Dwayne Wade, Steve Nash, and Steph Curry are plastered on this trophy, and Damian Lillard has even won this event twice.
Once you take a peek at the NBA Skills Challenge participants in 2020, you’ll see that another top-tier player will be adding his name to the list of winners. That is, of course, unless Jayson Tatum, Spencer Dinwiddie, or Patrick Beverly emerge in Chicago because all three men have captured this honor before (Tatum in 2019, Dinwiddie in 2018, Beverly in 2015).
|2020 NBA Skills Challenge Information|
|When||Saturday, February 15th, 9:00pm EST|
|Where||United Center – Chicago, IL|
|How to Watch||TV: TNT, Stream: FuboTV|
Derrick Rose was forced to drop out of the event due to an injury, which certainly threw the NBA sportsbooks for a loop. When the Taco Bells Skills Challenge odds were initially installed, Rose was sitting at the top of the betting sheet.
However, Rose’s replacement, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, is no slouch himself. In fact, I think he’s one of the favorites to win.
Check out my rankings of the NBA Skills Challenge participants.
1 – Khris Middleton
- Points Per Game: 20.3
- Rebounds Per Game: 5.9
- Assists Per Game: 4.3
I’ve been touting Khris Middleton as one of the most underrated players in the NBA for a while now, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I expect him to excel in the Skills Challenge. You need to be able to shoot, pass, and dribble the ball efficiently to prosper in this competition, and Middleton checks all of the boxes.
The Milwaukee Buck swingman is currently part of the highly-coveted “50-40-90 club,” a feat only achieved by eight men in the history of the league. Khris has averaged more than four assists per game and turns the ball over fewer than twice per contest.
In other words, his game is tailor-made for the Taco Bells Skills Challenge.
2 – Jayson Tatum
- Points Per Game: 21.9
- Rebounds Per Game: 6.8
- Assists Per Game: 2.9
Jayson Tatum won the 2019 Skills Challenge in dramatic fashion when he drained a desperation half-court shot against Trae Young in the finals. Tatum’s well-rounded game and ability to glide up and down the court with ease make him an intriguing option to potentially go back-to-back.
Now in his third year in the league and averaging career-highs across the board, the former standout at Duke is only going to get better. Don’t count on him knocking down another 50-foot heave, but count on him making a run at his second straight victory in the Skills contest.
3 – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
- Points Per Game: 19.5
- Rebounds Per Game: 6.2
- Assists Per Game: 3.2
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was a late addition to the Skills Challenge field, but don’t mistake him for just a throw-in who’s here to take up some space. The 6’5” combo guard possesses a 6’11” wingspan and is one of the more proficient ball-handlers in the entire competition.
Here’s a guy who recorded a 20-20-10 game last month and is yet to miss a game in his NBA career. His reliability should translate into a solid performance. If he can knock down his first three-point attempt in his head-to-head battles, Shai is a great bet to be the last man standing.
4 – Pascal Siakam
- Points Per Game: 23.7
- Rebounds Per Game: 7.7
- Assists Per Game: 3.5
If you think a 6’9” power forward can’t win the NBA Skills Challenge, keep in mind that the 2016 and 2017 editions were won by Kristaps Porzingis (7’3”) and Karl-Anthony Towns (7’0”), respectively.
The 2019 Most Improved Player in the league is now an All-Star game starter, and nothing about the way this dude plays the game doesn’t impress me. “Spicy P” has even shot above 36% from the outside during the last two seasons, so nothing about what this contest presents should deter Siakam from sustaining success.
5 – Patrick Beverly
- Points Per Game: 8.5
- Rebounds Per Game: 5.8
- Assists Per Game: 4.0
Patrick Beverly might not be the best or most important player on the Clippers roster, but consider him the glue that holds everything together. His year-to-date statistics aren’t going jump off the page, but ask anyone around the league, and they’ll tell you his intangibles are off the chart.
The gritty point guard won the Skills Challenge in 2015 as a member of the Rockets, and Beverly’s confidence as a player has only grown since then. At 6’1”, he might be the smallest of the eight participants in stature. On the other hand, he’s also the one with the biggest heart.
6 – Spencer Dinwiddie
- Points Per Game: 21.0
- Rebounds Per Game: 3.3
- Assists Per Game: 6.4
Kyrie Irving’s injuries and off-court issues have opened the door for Spencer Dinwiddie to shine in Brooklyn. The former Colorado Buffalo has not only walked through the opening, but he’s proven that he’s capable of being the #1 option on a team.
The only reason I don’t have him slotted higher on this page detailing who is in the NBA Skills Challenge is because of his less-than-stellar three-point shooting. Dinwiddie is hitting just 31.6% of his outside shots, marking the third-straight year he’s shooting under 34% from deep.
7 – Domantas Sabonis
- Points Per Game: 18.3
- Rebounds Per Game: 12.6
- Assists Per Game: 4.7
Few players have steadily improved their game over the last four years the way Domantas Sabonis has in Indiana. The Pacers big man has watched his scoring, rebounding, and assist totals increase year after year, to the point where he’s now one of the most complete frontcourt players in the game.
What’s scary is he’s just 23 years old and still has room to grow.
When you stack up the eight players in the NBA Skills Challenge, Domantas certainly isn’t the fastest or the best shooter. Nevertheless, don’t let that fool you into not realizing just how good this kid is.
8 – Bam Adebayo
- Points Per Game: 15.9
- Rebounds Per Game: 10.4
- Assists Per Game: 4.9
Jimmy Butler is the leader in Miami, and Duncan Robinson is a flamethrower who is one of the NBA 3-Point Contest participants. With that being said, it’s the ascension of Bam Adebayo that has the Heat playing terrific basketball on a night-in and night-out basis.
Bam doesn’t really shoot threes, so it’s unclear how deep his range extends, but he’s connecting on 58% of his field-goal attempts and has registered a pair of triple-doubles. The 22-year-old center contributes 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks per game, on top of averaging double-digit rebounds.
I’m actually starting to wonder if there’s anything on the hardwood that Adebayo can’t do.
Enjoy All-Star Weekend!
Even though the 2020 All-Star game takes place on Sunday the 16th, Saturday night’s festivities are my favorite part of the entire weekend. The Taco Bells Skills Challenge kicks the evening off, and it’s followed by the 3-Point shootout featuring eight of the league’s deadliest shooters.
Make sure to read about who is in the Slam Dunk Contest, because that’s arguably the most captivating event of the night.
Between watching and betting on all of the NBA All-Star activities, this is the type of action that’s easy to get immersed in.