The Skills Challenge has been one of the least-predictable events at All-Star Weekend over the past several years. Despite the event itself being geared toward faster guards, five of the past six winners have been big men. Domantas Sabonis, the 2020 runner-up in yet another show of big man dominance, is your 2021 Skills Challenge champion following a closely contested final round against Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic.
Ironically, the championship round was the first one won by the smaller player. In the first round, Sabonis defeated Knicks forward Julius Randle while Vucevic defeated Trail Blazers forward Robert Covington. The two went on to defeat the event's two favorites, as Sabonis stunned Luka Doncic while Vucevic knocked off Chris Paul. The two squared off in the finale, with both missing multiple clinching 3-pointers before Sabonis finally managed to put one in and seal his victory.
For most of the Skills Challenge's history, the event was limited to guards. In 2015, the league altered the format slightly to include big men. Rather than having players do individual, timed runs through the course, they set up a bracket of guards vs. big men. Patrick Beverley won the inaugural version of that format, but big men proceeded to dominate from there. The past six winners are Karl-Anthony Towns, Kristaps Porzingis, Spencer Dinwiddie, Jayson Tatum (who, by Skills Challenge standards, qualifies as a big), Bam Adebayo, and now, Sabonis.
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Vucevic will have a chance for revenge in the All-Star Game itself. He is suiting up for Team Durant while Sabonis is playing for Team LeBron. Both are reserves and should share minutes on the floor, so Vucevic may have the last laugh, after all.