Gordon Hayward to Participate in 2017 Taco Bell Skills Challenge

Feb 02, 2017 | by NBA.com

SALT LAKE CITY (February 2, 2017) – It was announced today that Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward has been selected to take part in the 2017 Taco Bell Skills Challenge. The event will be part of State Farm All-Star Saturday Night at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans on Saturday, Feb. 18. Hayward will also take part in his first All-Star Game on Sunday night as a member of the Western Conference squad.

The Taco Bell Skills Challenge tips off All-Star Saturday Night, which will be televised by TNT at 6 p.m. MT and will also be available on the Watch TNT App and on TNT Overtime. The competition will be broadcast on ESPN Radio, with audio also available on the ESPN app.

In addition to Hayward, the other Skills Challenge participants include Boston’s Isaiah Thomas, New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, New York’s Kristaps Porzingis, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Phoenix’s Devin Booker, Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins and Washington’s John Wall.

The three-round, obstacle-course competition, which tests dribbling, passing, agility and three-point-shooting skills, will feature a head-to-head, bracket-style tournament format for the third year in a row. Hayward along with guards Booker, Thomas and Wall will be on one side of the bracket while the four big men (Davis, Cousins, Embiid and Porzingis) will be on the other side. First-round matchups will be announced at a later date.

Hayward is just the third Jazzman to compete in the Skills Challenge on All-Star Saturday Night, joining Deron Williams (2008, 2010) and Trey Burke (2014, 2015).

In 43 games (all starts) for Utah, Hayward is averaging a career-high 21.8 points and 5.7 rebounds, along with 3.5 assists and 1.0 steals in 34.8 minutes per game and has helped the Jazz to a 31-19 start this season. He leads the team in scoring and free throw percentage while ranks second on the squad in assists per game. He earned his first NBA Western Conference Player of the Week honors on Jan. 16. In addition, earlier this season he passed Mehmet Okur (7,255) for ninth place on the Jazz career scoring list and Darrell Griffith (1,627) for ninth on the all-time franchise assist list, and also currently ranks second in Jazz annals for both three-pointers made (619) and attempted (1,697). The Jazz are 23-7 this season when Hayward scores 20-or-more points and 4-1 when he scores 30-plus points.

Joining Hayward in New Orleans will be Jazz teammates Danté Exum and Trey Lyles, who were selected to play for the World Team in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend on Friday, Feb. 17.