NEW YORK — Patrick Beverley is known as an aggressive defensive player, one that exerts maximum effort on that end of the floor while not needing to do much offensively. And, he was a late addition to All-Star Saturday Night’s Skills Challenge, replacing John Wall who withdrew due to injury.
But the grit Beverley is known for was on display in this one, and was enough for him to get through three rounds of competition to take home the title in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge.
The format of the contest changed from seasons past, and it made things far more entertaining as a result. Not only did two players go head-to-head in a bracketed format, but they went through the obstacle course on the court at the very same time.
Beverley almost didn’t make it out of the first round. He and his opponent, Isaiah Thomas of the Phoenix Suns, were both shooting layups at the same time to end it, with each other’s shots knocking themselves out before Beverley finally squeaked one in.
In both of the final two rounds, Beverley fell behind significantly. He missed all three chest passes in each, which allowed his opponents — Jeff Teague in the second round, Brandon Knight in the final one — to get out to big leads. Had either of them made their final shots before Beverley could catch up, Beverley would have been eliminated, and rightfully so.
But Teague missed a couple of three-point attempts, and Beverley made his first to advance. And, in the final round, Beverley again knocked down his first three to win the title, after misses from Knight once again allowed Beverley to catch up.
PBT Extra: Highlights of NBA All-Star media day; talking Three Point Contest
The NBA doesn’t call it by the same name, but the Friday of All-Star weekend for the league is a lot like Super Bowl week media day — all the stars are out, a lot of ridiculous/pointless questions are asked, a few players get annoyed.
Jenna Corrado and I were on hand with our amazing video crews to get highlights of this event.
The interesting discussion is Saturday’s Three-Point Contest — players and spectators alike may be more interested in that than Sunday’s game itself. We get Kyle Korver and some of the other participants to talk about what should be an amazing shootout.
Has 2015 set record for All-Star injury replacements?
The NBA commissioner has named four injury replacements – DeMarcus Cousins for Kobe Bryant, Damian Lillard for Blake Griffin, Kyle Korver for Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki for Anthony Davis. So, instead of 24 All-Stars, we have 28.
Is that a record for injury replacements? Not quite.
But it sets a record for starters replaced with Kobe, Griffin and Davis having been voted Western Conference starters.
Both 2007 and 1997 featured five injury replacements, and 2010 and 2001 each had four. No other year had more than two.
Joe Johnson replaced Jason Kidd
Josh Howard replaced Carlos Boozer
Ray Allen replaced Allen Iverson
Carmelo Anthony replaced Yao Ming*
Mehmet Okur replaced Steve Nash
Chris Webber replaced Patrick Ewing*
Joe Dumars replaced Alonzo Mourning
Detlef Schrempf replaced Charles Barkley*
Chris Gatling replaced Clyde Drexler
Kevin Garnett replaced Shaquille O’Neal
David Lee replaced Allen Iverson*
Jason Kidd replaced Kobe Bryant*
Chauncey Billups replaced Chris Paul
Chris Kaman replaced Brandon Roy
Latrell Sprewell replaced Grant Hill*
Dikembe Mutombo replaced Alonzo Mourning*
Antonio Davis replaced Theo Ratliff
Vlade Divac replaced Shaquille O’Neal*
*Voted a starter
It’s still possible, though unlikely,, 2015 matches the record for total injury replacements.
All the last minute injuries keeping guys out of the All-Star Game — Anthony Davis for sure and maybe Jimmy Butler — is opening up spaces in the Saturday night events as well. Already one Atlanta Hawk — Dennis Schroder — is stepping in, taking Butler’s place in the Skills Challenge.
Now another Hawk, Paul Millsap, will take Davis’ spot in the Shooting Stars competition that opens up the All-Star Saturday Night events. Millsap will stick around town as he is in the All-Star Game itself Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.
Millsap can shoot he is knocking down 34.6 percent of his threes (and is hitting 44 percent of his long two pointers) on his is averaging 16.8 points a game.
Millsap will be teamed with six-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen and two-time WNBA All-Star Elena Delle Donne of the Chicago Sky in the Shooting Stars event. The goal of that event is for each team to knock down a series of shots around the court, although really it comes down to who can hit the half court shot first.
Dennis Schroder replacing Jimmy Butler in skills challenge
Patrick Beverley – who replaced John Wall in the skills challenge – received plenty of scrutiny for his inclusion. Beverley is known for his defense, not his skills with the ball in his hands.
But I thought an even stranger selection was Jimmy Butler, who was included in the original field.
Sure, Butler has made major progress as a shooter/ball-handler/passer. But entered the league as a rugged dirty-work guard. Progress is being measured against that – not against the other point guards in the event.
So, I was pretty curious to see how the Bulls off guard would fare. Unfortunately, we won’t get the chance.
Shams Charania of RealGM:
Chicago star Jimmy Butler is pulling his name from the NBA All-Star Skills Challenge, league sources tell RealGM. He has shoulder injury.