NBA Skills Contest 2023 Picks, Predictions & Best Bets for NBA All-Star Weekend
The NBA Skills Contest has been evolving over the years and has seemed to settle on the team format that we will see today. The competition is broken down into 3 rounds. The first is a relay race, incorporating dribbling, passing and shooting challenges. That is followed up by a passing round and finally finished off with the shooting round. The first 2 rounds award 100 points to the victor. The last shooting round is worth 200. In case 2 teams are tied at the end of the 3 rounds, it goes to a tiebreaker. Both teams shoot from the half-court line to see who can knock down a shot fastest.
Check out our breakdown of the teams and our pick for the winner below.
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Team Jazz (-130)
The Skills Challenge now more than ever seems to favor guards. Luckily for team Jazz, it has 2 of the 3 competing in the contest. Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton should excel at the relay race. The pair are making 34.5% and 41% from 3-point range this season. No other player in the field is making above 34%. That should certainly make them the favorites in the shooting part of the challenge. While Walker Kessler could be a bit of a passenger on this team, he has shown a nice enough touch around the rim this season to stop him from being a major liability. The Jazz will be firmly in the mix in each round.
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Team Rooks (+150)
The rookies should be the ones causing the Jazz the most trouble tonight. Paolo Banchero has already shown himself to be a very versatile forward in the league. He has been a better than expected passer while also taking 4.2 threes per game. Jaden Ivey averages the same amount of shots from deep, and is also one of the fastest players taking part in this. Jabari Smith Jr. may be the one to let this side down. He has not been playing with much confidence this season. He is shooting just 38.9% from the field, which is far from great for a power forward. This team should do well in the relay, but it is likely to fall short on the shooting and passing aspects.
Team Antetokounmpos (+500)
Giannis Antetokounmpo is by far the best player in this competition. However, the 3 different rounds will not play to his strengths. He is likely to struggle in the shooting round and with the shot part of the relay race. And while he does average 5.4 assists per game, the defensive attention he draws usually gives him wide-open targets teammates to aim for. He could struggle to thread the needle in this format. There is a significant dropoff in skill level to his brothers Thanasis and Alex. Thanasis is particular is just a 15.5% career 3-point shooter in the NBA. He could really hold the team back tonight. The brothers should have a great time competing together tonight, but they are probably not going to be in the mix here.
The Utah crowd should have something to cheer from the get-go tonight. This is their best chance of a win on Saturday night, and I expect their trio to come out with a purpose. They have the best shooting options. With that being an aspect in 2 of the 3 rounds, and the tiebreaker being a half-court shot, it will position them very well to come out on top — especially considering the shooting challenge is worth double the points of any other. Winning that alone at least would guarantee them a tiebreak situation.
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