Much like his current role with the Pacers, Domantas Sabonis is adding to his workload at the All-Star Game on Sunday, as the league announced on Tuesday that the lefty big man will also be competing in the All-Star Skills Challenge that is scheduled to take place before the game, aired on TNT.
Sabonis, who is returning to compete as the 2020 runner-up, will be joined by fellow 2021 All-Stars Julius Randle and Nikola Vucevic in what appears to be a battle of the hubs as well as Chris Paul, Luka Doncic, and Robert Covington.
Adept at finding his teammates with slick bounce passes and no stranger to pushing the ball ahead off a rebound, Sabonis once again shouldn’t have much trouble dribbling up-and-down the court and passing the ball through a series of stationary targets, but as was the case last year, when he defeated Jayson Tatum and Khris Middleton to advance to the final round, he may need a little luck at the 3-point line, depending upon the pairings.
Through 33 games played, Sabonis has already made nearly twice as many threes (32) as he made all of last season (17), but 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. In that regard, Tatum and Middleton both missed on their first attempts a year ago, which bought Sabonis extra time to pull the trigger and get up extra shots.
According to the NBA’s official event page, no player from the Pacers has ever won the Skills Challenge. Prior to the 2020 All-Star Skills Challenge, Bam Adebayo and Sabonis had the worst odds to win before advancing to the final round.
Currently amid a four-game losing streak, the Pacers need to start finding a way to win the games that matter, but at least the team will have a chance to pick up some Ws vicariously through Sabonis and Cassius Stanley, who will be competing in the dunk contest, in the event the skid continues. Silver linings, right?