Culture of Hoops

NBA All-Star Weekend Predictions: Skills Challenge

Image courtesy of the NBA.

Image courtesy of the NBA.

Some of Hardwood & Hollywood’s greatest basketball minds (and me) got together to talk everything NBA All-Star Weekend and make our predictions for this weekend’s events.

Today I’m joined by NBA Guru, Sonny Giuliano, our New York Knicks resident expert, Mike Cortez, the legendary Mister King, and me, your friendly neighborhood Frankie Buckets .

2017 Taco Bell Skills Challenge

Devin Booker (Suns)
DeMarcus Cousins (Kings)
Anthony Davis (Pelicans)
Gordon Hayward (Jazz)
Nikola Jokic* (Nuggets)
Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks)
Isaiah Thomas (Celtics)
John Wall (Wizards)

Cortez: The Pick: Kristaps Porzingis. The crowned jewel of the Knicks is experiencing fake love for the first time. He missed most of January with a sore Achilles and in that time Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic have gotten his shine. Their insane play–with Towns chugging along and Turner playing well too–has pushed Porzingis to the side. Jokic might take home MVP honors in the Rising Stars Challenge further making KP look like last year’s fad. This is Porzingis’ chance to take back his shine. If you haven’t seen a lot of Porzingis I feel sorry for you and he moves like a guard especially with no one guarding him. Last year Towns knocked off Isaiah Thomas thanks to being able to hit the 3-pointer to win. Porzingis can handle the rock just as good as Towns and has a better jumper. PorzinGOD rises again.

King: Let the Big guys run. I like the format. I likes, I likes. Got to go with my hometown Unicorn Kristaps “Zingy” Porzingus to show off the full array of skills that’s got Knicks fan excited through the misery, and pull the upset.

Buckets: To me The Skills Challenge is bit hit-or-miss. It can be really fun like last year when Karl-Anthony Towns came from behind to defeat mini marvel, Isaiah Thomas. Or it can stagnate because the contestants try to coast and look cool instead of pushing for the win. It can also become horribly awkward watching an NBA point guard miss simple passes over and over. For me though, this year it will enjoyable for one reason no matter what. Nikola Jokic. At 21 Jokic is arguably the best passing big man in the league and I don’t say that lightly. Plus, with the inclusion of DeMarcus Cousins anything can happen and that makes it must-watch TV to me!

Out of sheer fan-boyishness alone I have to go with my main man, Nikola Jokic, to take home the glory on Saturday. He is by far my favorite player to watch in the NBA right now with his amazing court vision. When Jokic is on the court you are guaranteed at least one “how the hell did he make that pass” a game.

Sonny: Last year when the league modified the format for the skills challenge and began using frontcourt players alongside backcourt stars, we all assumed the guards would reign supreme. Karl-Anthony Towns narrowly edged out Isaiah Thomas for the victory, and the Skills Challenge, for the first time, solidified itself as the reliable third event All-Star Saturday desperately needed.

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