Watch Jeremy Lin, Tony Parker, Damian Lillard and more go head-to-head to determine the best NBA point guard tonight when the NBA Skills Challenge lights up NBA All-Star Saturday Night. (Photo : Reuters)
They're among the elite among point guards at the highest level of basketball.
And for one night, they'll all be on the same floor together to determine who the best is Saturday night when the 2013 Taco Bell Skills Challenge takes place during NBA All-Star Game Weekend.
In the 10 previous contests since the challenge's inaugural event at the 2003 NBA All-Star Weekend, only one guard, Miami Heat shooting guard Dwayne Wade, has ever repeated as the Skills Challenge champion. Defending champion Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs, who will be playing in Sunday's All-Star Game as a reserve, certainly has the skills to repeat.
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However, the 11th annual NBA Skills Challenge will have a field loaded with talent this year as Parker will be defending his title against the Houston Rockets' Jeremy Lin, Philadelphia 76ers guard Jrue Holiday, Brandon Knight of the Detroit Pistons, rookie sensation Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers and Jeff Teague of the Atlanta Hawks.
Who will walk out of Houston Saturday night as the point guard king? Latinos Post breaks down the field of competitors:
List of Skills Challenge Participants
Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
The reigning champion has all the right moves for this event. Last year, the reigning champion clocked a 29.2 second mark in the first round of the obstacle course and then 32.8 seconds in the second and last round. Along with a sweet jumper and nimble hands, Parker is one of the craftiest point guards in the game. He's done it before. He knows what it takes to win. The smart money says he's the odds-on favorite to repeat.
Jeremy Lin, Houston Rockets
This contest is about athleticism and precision--two things that the fan favorite Lin has plenty of when he gets going. In his second NBA All-Star Weekend trip and first as a Rocket since his remarkable run in New York last season, Lin will be in his first Skills Challenge on Saturday. Lin's jump shot is good enough where he can get through that part of the obstacle course, while his passing savvy--as his 6.2 assists on the season can attest to--can help him maneuver through the passing part of the obstacle course. Lin has the home field advantage of playing in front of the Houston faithful--but will that be enough to help him dethrone Parker as the 2013 Skills Challenge Champion?
Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers
Holiday, one of the best point guards in the East, is coming into his own this year in his first-career All-Star appearance of a career that began in 2009-10. Holiday's shooting hasn't been that good this season, shooting only 45 percent from the field, but he can still knock down a shot in a pinch, and he's one of the best playmakers in the game; his fourth-best NBA tally of 8.9 assists this season can vouch for that. Brimming with confidence and not lacking in skill, Holiday could be the dark horse in this contest.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
The No.6 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft is the main reason the Blazers have a shot at making the playoffs this season, surprising teams with his icy clutch shots, slick passing and an explosive athletic ability. Lillard was the talk of the town Friday night after a sensational NBA Rising Stars game with 18 points for Team Shaq. Can he ride that wave of momentum to take home the Skills Challenge trophy in his rookie year?
Brandon Knight, Detroit Pistons
There haven't been that many bright spots in a dismal season for the Pistons this year. Knight, the 21-year-old rookie out of Kentucky, has been one of them, though. He's got 13.5 points on the season, pretty good for a rookie, and his athletic ability gives him a world of potential. Knight certainly hasn't showed any signs of trepidation in his inaugural NBA season; could that confidence prove to be what he needs to outshine the best among the NBA's one-guards?
Jeff Teague, Atlanta Hawks
Teague has been a big a reason as any why the Hawks are breathing down the necks of the Heat in the Southeast Division. The four-year point guard from Wake Forest has been on fire with his shooting lately, having shot 55.2 percent in the last five games, and his playmaking skills have been among the best in the league lately with 10.0 assists since Feb. 5. His quickness has given teams fits in guarding him, and he bob and weave with the best of them on the floor. He could very well make it to the championship round.
The West will have a tough field, but Parker is the smart money to emerge from the West in the championship round. Holliday is the most successful of the East point guards, but Teague's shooting touch gives him the edge in this one. Look for Teague to go one-on-one with Parker in the championship round...and Parker to match Dwayne Wade when he takes his second straight Skills Challenge trophy home to San Antonio.
All participants will take part in a two-round competition with obstacle courses consisting of dribbling, passing and shooting. For the opening layup/dunk and the final shot, the player must rebound his own ball until the basket is made. After the opening shot, each contestant must dribble around obstacles and pass and shoot the ball at the top of the key in three different stations--the challenge being considered complete upon making the pass/shot or emptying the ball rack.
While the three players from each conference will have their total times added together in the team round, the fastest player from each conference in the team round will advance to the championship round.
The player with the fastest time in the championship round will be crowned the skills champion.
TV Schedule, Live Stream
NBA All-Star Saturday Night coverage will begin at 8 p.m. EST on TNT. For live streaming of all events, go to NBA On TNT Overtime.