NEW ORLEANS — Kristaps Porzingis was a half step behind Gordon Hayward as they shot their layups in the Skills Challenge, but the 7-foot-3 Knicks forward had an advantage as each player’s ball fell through the hoop.
“I kind of cheated a little bit,” Porzingis said. “I grabbed the ball before him, because I’m taller. And then I just kept running.”
Porzingis kept his advantage, hitting a 3-pointer on the other end to win the Skills Challenge on All-Star Saturday Night. He’s the second big man to win in the two years larger players participated, joining 2016 winner Karl-Anthony Towns.
In an event thought to favor guards considering the emphasis on ball-handling, passing, speed and shooting, the bigs are making their mark. Even Gordon Hayward, a forward shoehorned into the guard division won that to meet Porzingis in the final. But the bigger Porzingis was too quick.
“It’s a good feeling I’m able to showcase my skill with my size,” Porzingis said.
It’s a new era for NBA bigs. What’s next for Porzingis on All-Star Saturday Night?
“Slam dunk competition? For sure not,” Porzingis said. “Maybe one day 3-pointers.”
Gordon Hayward over John Wall
Kristaps Porzingis over DeMarcus Cousins
Gordon Hayward over Isaiah Thomas
Kristaps Porzingis over Nikola Jokic
Kristaps Porzingis over Gordon Hayward