Domantas Sabonis is adding to his workload at All-Star weekend, as the league announced tonight that the lefty big man will also be participating in the All-Star Skills Challenge on Saturday, February 15.
Adept at finding his teammates with slick bounce passes and no stranger to occasionally pushing the ball ahead off a rebound, Sabonis shouldn’t have much trouble dribbling up-and-down the court and passing the ball through a a series of stationary targets, but...um...where can we petition to have the final 3-point shot replaced by a hand-off?
In 47 games played, Sabonis has already attempted more than twice as many threes as he did all of last season, but he’s still just 11-of-48 from deep.
With the eight-person field paired off in a three-round obstacle course that tests ball-handling, passing, agility, and shooting, Indiana’s starting big man is going to have to knockdown a shot from behind the arc faster that his head-to-head competitor in order to advance.
According to the NBA’s official event page, no player from the Pacers has ever won the Skills Challenge.
Doug McDermott, meanwhile, won’t be representing Indiana in the 3-point contest, as the official field was instead revealed to include Davis Bertans, Devonte Graham, Buddy Hield, Zach LaVine, Damian Lillard, Duncan Robinson, Trae Young, and Joe Harris.
Notably, all of those participants have something in common: They’re all attempting at least six threes per game.
Last season, former Spurs beat reporter Jabari Young shared that the league told Davis Bertans, who at the time was shooting a league-high 48.6 percent from three, that he wasn’t firing away from deep on high enough volume to be allowed in the contest.
So I’m told Davis Bertans wanted to participate in the #NBAAllStarGame2019 3-Pt contest, but got stiffed... apparently told he didn’t shoot enough of them... weird because I swear there are at least 2 guys in the contest who doesn’t either ♂️ #Spurs @TheAthleticNBA— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) January 28, 2019
Aside from Seth Curry, who agreed to compete against his brother in the city where his dad played, and Dirk Nowitzki, who was likely invited for legacy purposes, every other player in the then expanded 10-man field attempted at least five threes per game. By comparison, Bertans averaged 4.4 during his final season with the Spurs.
All of which is to say that McDermott being snubbed (if you can call it that) probably has more to do with his shot-volume (4.3 per game) than his team being overlooked.