Ex-Cats

Towns touts his ‘guard skills’ ahead of All-Star skills challenge event

By Jerry Zgoda

Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

The Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns, left, drove on the Bulls’ Taj Gibson in the second half Saturday in Minneapolis. Minnesota won 112-105.
The Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns, left, drove on the Bulls’ Taj Gibson in the second half Saturday in Minneapolis. Minnesota won 112-105. Associated Press

Teammates predict a resounding repeat victory for Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine at next weekend’s All-Star slam dunk contest in Toronto, but they are skeptical about rookie Karl-Anthony Towns’ chances in the skills challenge.

The NBA has modified that event this year by inviting big men Towns, DeMarcus Cousins, Draymond Green and Anthony Davis to compete against the little guys in a timed obstacle course that requires a series of passes, free throws, layups and agility drills.

Does Towns stand a chance?

“No, guards are quicker,” said Wolves point guard Ricky Rubio, who has been invited but has never participated in the event. “That’s how it is.”

But Towns considers himself something of a guard in a 7-footer’s body, thanks to the way his father, a former college player and longtime high school coach, taught him the fundamentals all his life.

“I’ve got guard skills, so I should just be fine,” the former University of Kentucky star said. “I think it’s definitely a cool addition. They didn’t pick just any bigs. They picked bigs they thought could do a great job in the competition. I’m just going to go out there, have fun and compete.”

Asked if the NBA will make changes in the competition to give the big men their chance, Towns said: “I have no idea. Believe me, I would have started practicing. I have no idea what the course is going to look like. I’ll probably just wing it.”

All-Star weekend

Friday: Rising Stars Challenge (including Karl-Anthony Towns, Nerlens Noel and Trey Lyles)

Saturday: All-Star Saturday Night, including skills challenge (Towns, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins), three-point shooting (Devin Booker) and dunk contests

Sunday, Feb. 14: NBA All-Star Game (Davis, Cousins and John Wall)

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