Devin Booker to Compete in 2017 Skills Challenge

by Cody Cunningham

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker will be one of eight participants to take part in the 2017 Taco Bell Skills Challenge, the league announced tonight. The event will be part of All-Star Saturday Night at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans on Feb. 18.

Booker will be competing against Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Utah’s Gordon Hayward, New York’s Kristaps Porzingis, Boston’s Isaiah Thomas and Washington’s John Wall.

The Taco Bell Skills Challenge, which tests dribbling, passing, agility and three-point-shooting skills, will feature a head-to-head, bracket-style tournament format for the third year in a row. The four big men will be on one side of the bracket and the remaining four players will be on the other side of the bracket. First-round matchups will be announced at a later date.

The three-round, obstacle-course competition calls for two players to compete simultaneously on an identical course with the fastest finisher reaching 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.

Booker will be the fifth Suns player to compete in the Skills Challenge on All-Star Saturday Night, joining Stephon Marbury (2003), Steve Nash (2005; 2006; 2010), Goran Dragic (2014) andThomas(2015). Nash is a two-time winner of the event, taking the title in 2005 and 2010.

The 20-year-old guard has averaged 20.8 points in 48 games with the Suns this season, including three games achieving his career-high of 39 points. Booker has scored at least 20 points in each of his last 14 games, the longest streak by a Suns player since 2008 as he is posting 25.9 points per game over this stretch.

Booker will also compete in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night at NBA All-Star 2017, his second straight year playing in the event. In 2016, he scored 23 points in the Rising Stars Challenge in Toronto.

This will be Booker’s second time participating in an event on All-Star Saturday Night as last year he became the youngest participant in Three-Point Contest history. Booker advanced to the finals in the 2016 Three-Point Contest before finishing third.

The Taco Bell Skills Challenge tips off All-Star Saturday Night on Feb. 18, which will be televised by TNT at 6 p.m. MT and also broadcast on ESPN Radio.