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NBA HORSE tournament: Skills breakdown and experts' picks

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NBA Mixtape: Best of HORSE participants (2:15)

Trae Young, Chauncey Billups and Tamika Catchings headline the NBA HORSE challenge. It all begins on Sunday at 7pm ET on ESPN. (2:15)

The NBA HORSE tournament is finally here (7 p.m. ET Sunday on ESPN), but which player has the best chance to bring home the title?

Can the active NBA stars reign supreme in this playground shooting exhibition? The WNBA will send Hall of Famer Tamika Catchings and two-time 3-point champion Allie Quigley, while former champions Chauncey Billups and Paul Pierce will represent NBA alumni.

The NBA has hosted HORSE competitions on three occasions during All-Star Weekend, with Paul Westphal winning the first contest in 1978 and Kevin Durant winning back to back in 2009 and 2010.

Our NBA experts evaluate the participants and make their picks as the opening round takes place on Sunday on ESPN.

MORE: How to watch the NBA HORSE Challenge


Meet the participants

ESPN analysts Kevin Pelton and Kirk Goldsberry break down the skills for each of the eight competitors.

Trae Young vs. Chauncey Billups

Trae Young: Young comes into the competition as the player with the highest expectations. Ever since his days at Oklahoma, Young has wowed fans with his absurd ability to shoot accurately from distances that were very recently considered too deep to shoot from. Look for Young to try to hit a few deep triples to hang letters on his opponents. -- Goldsberry

Chauncey Billups: Assuming "Mr. Big Shot" has been practicing, he should be comfortable with distance shooting as one of the NBA's top 20 players in all-time 3-pointers. Billups shot 39% in his career from 3-point range and was nearly automatic at the free throw line (89%). -- Pelton

Tamika Catchings vs. Mike Conley

Tamika Catchings: Catchings was chosen for the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame earlier this month, and I recently made the case that she is the greatest player in WNBA history. Shooting was the weakest part of Catchings' game, however, as she shot 41.5% career from the field and 35.5% from beyond the arc. -- Pelton

Mike Conley: Conley can flat-out shoot. In his 13 seasons, he's made 82% of his free throws and 38% of his 3s, but here's the kicker: He's ambidextrous. He's predominantly a left-handed shooter, which can be a huge advantage in HORSE, but he's shot his floater with his right hand for years, and he's more than capable of making shots with both hands. Can he find ways to exploit his strong left hand in this competition? -- Goldsberry

Zach LaVine vs. Paul Pierce

Zach LaVine: The Bulls' leading scorer is far and away the best athlete in the competition, and if he can find ways to exploit that, look out. But, unfortunately for LaVine, dunking in this contest is strictly prohibited. That rule neutralizes some of LaVine's biggest advantages, but that doesn't mean his leaping ability will be completely negated. How about leaping from the top of the key into a floater? -- Goldsberry

Paul Pierce: One of the league's all-time clutch shot-makers, Pierce will have the opportunity to prove to everyone that he called "glass" (rather than calling "game") in this competition. Although not a classically elite shooter, Pierce has a knack for shot-making from difficult angles that should serve him well. -- Pelton

Chris Paul vs. Allie Quigley

Chris Paul: Paul is one of the most gifted shooters in the NBA, and he's my favorite to win this thing. Why? He's a ferocious competitor who has been hitting big shots in big moments since 2005. CP3 is the wiliest veteran in this group, and I'm 100% confident the point god has a few HORSE tricks up his sleeve. -- Goldsberry

Allie Quigley: Quigley won back-to-back WNBA 3-point contests in 2017 and 2018 and set a single-round record for either NBA or WNBA with a score of 29. The Chicago Sky guard made a career-best 80 3s (44% from beyond the arc) in 2019, when she earned her third consecutive All-Star trip. -- Pelton

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Experts' picks

Here is whom the ESPN NBA team is taking to make the HORSE finals and to win it all.

Malika Andrews

  • Trae Young over Zach LaVine

Nick DePaula

  • Trae Young over Zach LaVine

Kirk Goldsberry

  • Chris Paul over Trae Young

Chris Herring

  • Allie Quigley over Trae Young

Baxter Holmes

  • Trae Young over Chris Paul

Andrew Lopez

  • Chris Paul over Trae Young

Tim MacMahon

  • Trae Young over Chris Paul

Jackie MacMullan

  • Zach LaVine over Trae Young

Bobby Marks

  • Trae Young over Chris Paul

Dave McMenamin

  • Trae Young over Paul Pierce

Kevin Pelton

  • Trae Young over Zach LaVine

Jorge Sedano

  • Chris Paul over Trae Young

Ramona Shelburne

  • Trae Young over Allie Quigley

Andre Snellings

  • Chris Paul over Trae Young

Marc J. Spears

  • Chris Paul over Trae Young

Eric Woodyard

  • Zach LaVine over Trae Young

Royce Young

  • Trae Young over Allie Quigley

Ohm Youngmisuk

  • Trae Young over Chris Paul

Finals picks

  • Trae Young: 18 votes

  • Chris Paul: 9 votes

  • Zach LaVine: 5 votes

  • Allie Quigley: 3 votes

  • Paul Pierce: 1 vote

HORSE champion

  • Trae Young: 10 votes

  • Chris Paul: 5 votes

  • Zach LaVine: 2 votes

  • Allie Quigley: 1 vote