The NBA's new format for All-Star Saturday's Skills Challenge proved to be a wild success, as Minnesota Timberwolves rookie Karl-Anthony Towns defeated Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas in the final to hoist the hardware.
Towns and Thomas matched each other step for step throughout the event's final head-to-head stage, but the 2015 No. 1 overall pick drained the contest's final three-pointer to clinch the win, as Bleacher Report documented:
According to ESPN Stats & Info, at 7'0", Towns is the tallest player to ever win the Skills Challenge:
At 7'0", Karl-Anthony Towns is the tallest player to win the NBA Skills Challenge.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 14, 2016
Previous tallest was 6'4" (Dwyane Wade & Jason Kidd).
After Towns and Thomas squared off in a thrilling finale that juxtaposed size and speed, CBS Sports' Matt Moore opined the Skills Challenge may be turning a corner:
That was the most fun Skills competition thing ever.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) February 14, 2016
The event started with Towns squaring off against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, and the Timberwolves rookie needed a come-from-behind effort to down the defending champions' jack-of-all-trades.
With the first-round scare behind him, Towns pulled away from Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins—who stumbled out of the gate with some shaky ball-handling after beating New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis in Round 1.
While Towns' display may have been in a one-on-none situation, it showcased the diverse skill set that makes him the Rookie of the Year front-runner and one of the NBA's most compelling young talents.
Through 54 games, Towns is averaging 17.1 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game while shooting 54.4 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from three-point range.
For perspective, the only rookies in league history to average at least 17.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per contest are Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, Alonzo Mourning, Elton Brand and Ralph Sampson.
In other words, Saturday night probably wasn't the last time Towns will take home a trophy recognizing his individual achievements.
According to Timberwolves PR, Towns admitted he was feeling the pressure entering Saturday night:
Karl says he did come in nervous, but overcame it. Says that KG taught him some breathing techniques that he used tonight. #RisingWolves— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) February 14, 2016
The 5'9" Thomas, meanwhile, joked about losing to a player who's more than a foot taller, according to the Boston Herald's Mark Murphy:
Thomas on losing Skills Challenge to Towns, a big man: "I should turn in my point guard card."— Mark Murphy (@Murf56) February 14, 2016
"I'm definitely talking some trash to Ricky Rubio," Towns said, according to freelance NBA scribe Eric Koreen. "He doubted me since the beginning."