If you’re one of those people crying that the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contests lacks real All-Stars, then the Skills Challenge is likely your favorite event of All-Star Saturday Night.
The annual dribble-pass-shoot competition may not be as sexy as the dunk contest but it has touted the most name value of the three All-Star Weekend events, with past winners including Deron Williams, Baron Davis, Derrick Rose, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Dwyane Wade and reigning champion, San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker.
That was, until 2013. Parker, who is a +275 favorite to defend his Skill Challenge crown, is one of just two All-Stars among this year’s contenders. Jrue Holiday (+500) of the Philadelphia 76ers is the other.
Those two will go up against Hawks guard Jeff Teague (+350), Brandon Knight (+500) of the Pistons, Trail Blazers rookie Damian Lillard (+500), and Jeremy Lin (+500) of the Rockets.
While the field isn’t as deep as past year’s, Parker is substantially older than his competition at age 30. The average age of the other five contestants is almost 22.5 years old. In a timed event with a lot having to do with speed from station to station, the veteran could be at a disadvantage.
Parker has been shouldering the load for the Spurs in recent weeks, with Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili nursing injuries. He missed Monday’s win over the Chicago Bulls due to swelling around his knee but played in the Spurs’ final game before the break, scoring 24 points and adding seven assists and six rebounds in a win over Cleveland Wednesday.
Parker won last year’s Skills Challenge with a final-round time of 32.8 seconds – more than seven seconds over the event’s all-time best mark set by Williams at the 2008 All-Star Weekend. Parker's 2012 effort was also the third-slowest time for a winner in the 10-year history of the event.
Odds courtesy of UWin.com.