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A serious breakdown of the NBA’s HORSE contenders

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The best live sports we’re going to get for a while is going to be FUN.

The NBA HORSE Challenge is going to be the best chance for us to watch sports for a while, and after seeing the field it looks like the event is going to be a blast. Current and former NBA and WNBA stars are facing off in a HORSE tournament with $200,000 being donated to coronavirus relief efforts, broadcast by ESPN.

Beginning on Sunday, April 12 and running through Thursday, April 16, the rules are pretty obvious unless you’ve never heard of HORSE before. Players will take turns calling their shot and pressuring their opponent to make it. Succeed and the process repeats, fail and you get a letter. First to spell HORSE loses.

The only caveat for this HORSE challenge is no dunking, which is sensible considering some of the players aren’t known dunkers and it includes former players. Otherwise, let’s be honest, Zach LaVine would run away with this thing and it would be boring.

Let’s analyze the field and see if we can work out who’s going to win this thing.

Round 1

Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks) vs. Chauney Billups (Detroit Pistons legend)

This is a tough one. Billups is known for his ability to make shots under pressure, while Young is a phenom of a shooter. Prior to 2019-20 this might be more of a toss up, but Young’s three point game really took a step forward in 2019-20. Young is also going to have athleticism that might make it difficult for Billups.

Prediction: Trae Young

Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever legend) vs. Mike Conley Jr. (Utah Jazz)

This is another really well-designed matchup. Both are efficient shooters, which makes this a bit of a wash when it comes to spot-up shooting, but Catchings had a penchant throughout her career for making some ludicrous, seemingly-impossible layups. Going back to that would serve her well, but there’s going to be some rust here too since Catchings has moved to the front office and Conley Jr. is still playing today. I gotta go with my gut here.

Prediction: Mike Conley Jr.

Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls) vs. Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics legend)

LaVine is an underrated shooter, but overall relies on his athleticism and explosiveness more than Pierce did during his career. The Celtics legend is known for his shot creating potential and ability to seemingly drain anything mid-range with ease, while also having excellent three point potential. Another difficult prediction here, ultimately I think Pierce’s mid-range game will be efficient enough to win Round 1.

Prediction: Paul Pierce

Allie Quigley (Chicago Sky) vs. Chris Paul (Oklahoma Thunder)

Calling it now: This will be the can’t-miss match up of Round 1. Everyone is going to expect Paul to run away with it because he’s Chris Paul, but underestimating Quigley is a fool’s errand. She might be the best pure shooter in this entire tournament, which she showed by draining an WNBA and NBA record 29 threes at the three-point contest in 2018. Qugley is able to drain anything from inside the arc and beyond, even off-balance or coming off a move. This will be billed as an upset, but it shouldn’t be.

Prediction: Allie Quigley

Round 2

Trae Young vs. Mike Conley Jr.

Both players are excellent, but I believe in Young’s ability to be a little more creative with his shot calling. Both are great shooters, but I think athleticism gets the edge here.

Prediction: Trae Young

Paul Pierce vs. Allie Quigley

Similar to Round 1, I think people are going to side with Pierce because he’s more of a household name. I think the biggest test for Quigley this entire tournament is getting back Chris Paul in Round 1, so I think this one is money in the bank.

Prediction: Allie Quigley

Final

Trae Young vs. Allie Quigley

Young has the athleticism and the driving moves, I think Quigley is better at mid-range shooting. This will be a great matchup, but watching each player’s repertoire of moves I can’t shake just how easily Quigley is able to drain shots in traffic or coming off a turnaround.

Prediction: Allie Quigley wins the NBA HORSE Challenge