NEW YORK – NBA All-Stars DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings, Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans and Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors will headline the 2016 Taco Bell® Skills Challenge at Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Saturday, Feb. 13. Three-time reigning Kia NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves rounds out the quartet of versatile frontcourt players in the eight-player field, the first time in the event’s 14-year history that multiple non-guards are competing.
Defending champion Patrick Beverley of the Houston Rockets and fellow guards Jordan Clarkson of the Los Angeles Lakers, CJ McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers and All-Star Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics complete the lineup for the three-round, obstacle-course competition that tests dribbling, passing, agility and three-point-shooting skills. A head-to-head, bracket-style tournament format will be used for the second year in a row. The tournament matchups will be determined at a later date.
The Taco® Bell Skills Challenge is part of State Farm® All-Star Saturday Night, which will be exclusively televised by TNT in the U.S. at 7:30 p.m. ET. This marks Turner Sports’ 31st year of NBA All-Star coverage. Sportsnet and TSN will simulcast the Taco Bell® Skills Challenge in Canada. The event also will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio.
The four frontcourt participants are enjoying exceptional seasons while using their array of skills to affect games in many ways. Cousins and Davis are the only NBA players averaging at least 22 points and 10 rebounds this season. Both have expanded their shooting range: Cousins has made 45 of his 56 career three-pointers this season, and Davis has hit 21 of his 24 career three-pointers. Towns has also showcased his perimeter shooting, converting 18-of-46 (39.1 percent) from beyond the arc during a season in which he leads all rookies in rebounding (9.9 rpg) and ranks second in scoring (16.5 ppg) and blocked shots (1.8 bpg).
Green (14.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 7.4 apg) leads the NBA with 10 triple-doubles and ranks sixth in the league in assist average – the only frontcourt player in the top 10. The first-time All-Star selection is shooting career highs of 48.9 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from three-point range.
Beverley, who won the 2015 Taco® Bell Skills Challenge in his competition debut, is shooting a career-high 42.8 percent from three-point range this season. Thomas, also participating for the second year in a row, is averaging career highs of 21.4 points and 6.6 assists as a first-time All-Star. This marks the first time in the event for Clarkson, who is averaging 15.2 points in his second season, and McCollum, who has raised his scoring average from 6.8 points last season to 20.9 points this season (15th in the NBA).
The Taco Bell® Skills Challenge format 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. Complete rules can be found at mediacentral.nba.com.
NBA All-Star 2016 in Toronto – the first NBA All-Star held outside the U.S. – will bring together some of the most talented and passionate players in the league’s history for a global celebration of the game. The 65th NBA All-Star Game, which will take place at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 14 at Air Canada Centre, will reach fans in more than 200 countries in more than 40 languages. TNT will televise the All-Star Game in the U.S. for the 14th consecutive year. Air Canada Centre will also host the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge at 9 p.m. ET on Friday, Feb. 12 and State Farm All-Star Saturday Night. Other events at NBA All-Star 2016 include the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game presented by Mountain Dew and the NBA Development League All-Star Game presented by Kumho Tire.
Below is the roster for the 2016 Taco Bell® Skills Challenge and a list of previous winners:
2016 TACO BELL® SKILLS CHALLENGE PARTICIPANTS
Participant, Team Pos. Ht. Wt.
Patrick Beverley, Houston Rockets G 6-1 185
Jordan Clarkson, Los Angeles Lakers G 6-5 194
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings C 6-11 270
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans F 6-10 253
Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors F 6-7 230
CJ McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers G 6-4 200
Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics G 5-9 185
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves C 7-0 244
TACO BELL® SKILLS CHALLENGE WINNERS
2003 – Jason Kidd, New Jersey
2004 – Baron Davis, New Orleans
2005 – Steve Nash, Phoenix
2006 – Dwyane Wade, Miami
2007 – Dwyane Wade, Miami
2008 – Deron Williams, Utah
2009 – Derrick Rose, Chicago
2010 – Steve Nash, Phoenix
2011 – Stephen Curry, Golden State
2012 – Tony Parker, San Antonio
2013 – Damian Lillard, Portland
2014 – Trey Burke, Utah and Damian Lillard, Portland
2015 – Patrick Beverley, Houston Rockets
About Taco Bell Corporation
Taco Bell Corp., a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc., (NYSE: YUM), is the nation’s leading Mexican-inspired quick service restaurant. Taco Bell serves made to order and customizable tacos, burritos, and specialties such as the exclusive Doritos® Locos Tacos, gourmet-inspired Cantina Power® Menu, lower calorie Fresco options and is the first QSR restaurant to offer American Vegetarian Association (AVA)-certified menu items. Taco Bell Breakfast offers portable, classic items such as the A.M. Crunchwrap, Biscuit Taco and signature breakfast burritos. The company encourages customers to “Live Más,” both through its food and in ways such as its Feed The Beat® music program and its nonprofit organization, the Taco Bell® Foundation™. Taco Bell and its more than 350 franchise organizations have nearly 6,000 restaurants across the United States that proudly serve more than 40 million customers every week.
About State Farm®
The mission of State Farm is to help people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams. State Farm and its affiliates are the largest providers of auto, home and individual life insurance in the United States. Its 18,000 agents and more than 65,000 employees serve more than 82 million policies and accounts – nearly 80 million auto, home, life, health and commercial policies, and nearly 2 million bank accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 41 on the 2015 Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit http://www.statefarm.com.