Tony Parker leads a promising Point Guard pack into the 2013 NBA All Star Skills Challenge Competition.[caption id="attachment_14406" align="aligncenter" width="629"] Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images[/caption] The All Star Weekend is always fun and arguably the most intriguing event of the weekend is the Skills Challenge. It's all about agility and speed around the court, often you'll hear commentators during a game say 'If you put these guys in a sprint who would win?'. With the Skills Challenge we get the cream of the NBA in terms of athletic young point guards. This year there will be 5 brand new, first time contestants.
ContestantsEAST: Jrue Holiday, the Philadelphia 76ers leader who has put this team in playoffs contention without star Andrew Bynum. He's averaging 19 points and 9 assists on the season. Jeff Teague, in wake of Lou Williams season ending injury has upped his production on the back of increased playing time. He's averaging 14 points, 7 assists on the season for the Atlanta Hawks. Brandon Knight, while playing the combo guard he is still learning how to use his athleticism efficiently in the NBA for the Detroit Pistons. He's averaging 14 points, 3 assists on the season. WEST: Tony Parker, invited back to defend his 2012 Skills Challenge Trophy has played at an MVP caliber level. Averaging an incredible 21 points and 8 assists for the San Antonio Spurs. Damian Lillard, the exciting rookie out at the Portland Trailblazers. Touted as the favourite for Rookie Of The Year he has given Portland 18 points 6.5 assists. Jeremy Lin, while playing well for the Houston Rockets this season Lin is clearly in this event for the publicity he got last year during 'Linsanity'. He's got 12 points, 6 assists on the season.
Where To WatchThis year you can get the event live on ESPN Australia via Foxtel along with the rest of the All Star festivities. It's also available on NBA League Pass. Simply by tuning in from 12:30 pm AEDT (See TV Guide for other events and times) and it will be straight on after the first Shooting Stars event.
What To Watch ForThe NBA has given the format of the Skills Challenge a slight tweak to make things a little more competitive. All players will run the course once in the 1st round and the individual with the best time from their conference will advance into the final. Then there will be the final 2 playing the course once more to determine an overall winner.
UnderdogsSkills Challenge 2013 will all be about who can dethrone Tony Parker. Even at 30 years of age and 12 years in the league, which is considerably higher than everyone else he is the favourite. The dark horse here is Jeff Teague. He's capable of being the starting Point Guard for a team but with other guards around him he's had to wait his turn. We should be seeing a lot more of Teague in the future and that could start here at the Skills Challenge. Don't go forgetting about Damian Lillard either, rookies do tend to take these events more seriously than others.
Final WordBaring a breakdown we should see 2012 Skills Champ Tony Parker representing the West in the final. While I'm 50-50 on Jeff Teague or Jrue Holiday for the east. Whoever goes second out of these two in the 1st round will go through because it's easier to chase down the target than to set one. My pick will be a Teague v Parker final. Then I think Parker is the better passer and Teague has a higher chance of getting stuck on a rack. So it'll be Parker for back to back titles!
Now we want to hear your predictions. Have I not put enough stock in Brandon Knight or is Parker no lock to repeat?