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Jamal Murray to Compete in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge
DENVER, Feb. 1, 2017 – The NBA announced today that Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray has been selected to participate in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge on Saturday, Feb. 17 at Staples Center in Los Angeles during NBA All-Star 2018.
Murray, 20, has appeared in 50 games (49 starts) for Denver this season, averaging 16.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 30.2 minutes per game. Among second-year players Murray ranks second in scoring per game (16.2), second in total field goals (291), tied for first in total three point makes (96) and eighth in assists per game (2.9). He also ranks second in the NBA in free throw shooting percentage at 93.1%.
The second-year guard has posted 20+ points 17 times and 30+ points six times, both the most among all players under 21. He recently posted a career-high 38 points (14-19 FG) to go with five boards and six assists vs. Portland on 1/22, just one game after tallying 30 points, five rebounds and two assists vs. Phoenix on 1/19. He now joins Anthony Davis, Karl Anthony-Towns, Damian Lillard, Joel Embiid, Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant and LeBron James as the only first or second-year players since 2001 to post 30+ points, 5+ rebounds and 2+ assists in back-to-back games.
Murray, who was selected by Denver with the 7th overall pick of the 2016 NBA Draft, will also be competing for the second straight year as a member of Team World in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night. He was named the 2017 BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge MVP after posting a game-high 36 points (9-14 3FG) and a game-high 11 assists in a 150-141 Team World victory.
The 16th Taco Bell Skills Challenge is part of State Farm® All-Star Saturday Night, which will air on TNT and ESPN Radio at 8 p.m. ET. All-Star Saturday Night also includes the JBL Three-Point Contest and Verizon Slam Dunk.
Joining Murray in the Skills Challenge are Defending champion and 2018 NBA All-Star forward Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks), All-Star centers Joel Embiid (76ers) and Al Horford (Celtics), guard Spencer Dinwiddie (Nets), forward Lauri Markkanen (Bulls), guard Donovan Mitchell (Jazz), and guard Lou Williams (LA Clippers).
With Porzingis, Embiid, Horford and Markkanen competing, this marks the third straight year that four big men will be showing off their versatility in the previously guard-focused event. Big men were crowned champion in each of the last two competitions, with the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns winning in 2016 and Porzingis defeating Gordon Hayward in last year’s final round.
The three-round, obstacle-course competition, which tests dribbling, passing, agility and three-point-shooting skills, will feature a head-to-head, bracket-style tournament format. The four big men will be on one side of the bracket and the four guards will be on the other side of the bracket. First-round matchups will be announced at a later date.
Taco Bell Skills Challenge Rules
Two players compete simultaneously on identical courses and the fastest finisher reaches the next round. In the first round, the eight players are paired to participate in four head-to-head competitions. The four winners advance to the second round, where two more head-to-head showdowns determine the two finalists. Click here for a complete explanation of the rules.