NBA All-Star Weekend Betting Preview
The spectacle that is NBA All-Star Weekend has finally arrived, and with this being the first year the players are drafting their respective teams for the All-Star game as opposed to the simple Conference format, there probably isn’t a better place for this spectacle to be held than Los Angeles.
All-Star Saturday has eclipsed the actual game for some time now, especially with the players treating the game like a Harlem Globetrotters exhibition the past few years. On that note, early odds have the actual All-Star game lined with Team LeBron -3 with a total of 346.
There has been a lot of chatter about just how embarrassing recent All-Star games have been (similar to what we heard from the NFL players a few years back), and I do believe we see the intensity and competition level step up this year. Guys will start to take more pride in how they look on the floor – ie. Actually play some defense – and that has to lead to only one place in terms of wagering on the actual game and that would be to play ‘Under’ the total.
But this piece is more about the showcase events on Saturday night and bookies already has odds posted for the 3-point contest as well as the Dunk contest. The former pits some of the sharpest shooters in the game against one another, while the latter has all the buzz surrounding the two rookies involved – Dennis Smith Jr and Donovan Mitchell. Both events should be treated more as entertainment rather than trying to win serious units off these exhibitions, but that doesn’t mean we can’t grow our bankrolls a little bit in the process.
Three-Point Shooting Contest
Klay Thompson is back in this event for the 4th consecutive year and looking to regain his crown after falling to Eric Gordon a season ago. The Warriors sharpshooter is currently 2nd in the league in shooting percentage from beyond the arc (45.5%) which is actually best in the field by a fair margin. That combination of efficiency and experience is one that can’t really be ignored here, especially with him returning for a 4th straight year by choice rather then returning as a defending champ. Typically guys prefer to step aside in a spot like this, but the competitor in Klay suggests to me that he’ll be a very tough out here.
Bradley Beal is competing in this event for the 2nd time in his career, although the first came back in the 2014 All-Star game. Beal doesn’t have the efficiency that Thompson does as he shoots at a 36.6% clip from distance, but he’s a very streaky shooter that hopefully catches fire during the event at this price. Longshots have been known to win this event in the past, and Beal was there first hand the last time it happened when Marco Belinelli beat him and the likes of Steph Curry, Kyrie Irving, Joe Dohnson, Damian Lillard, Kevin Love, and Arron Afflalo back in 2014. A win in a showcase event like this would help Beal catapult himself into the next echelon of the league and that would be a welcomed outcome for Wizards fans who are relying on him to carry their team for the next 6+ weeks.
Best Bets: Klay Thompson (+200), Bradley Beal (+800)
The two rookies lead the way here with Smith Jr priced at +175, and Mitchell coming in at +225, but right behind them is Nance who is competing for the first time on this stage as well. I’d prefer to go with Nance simply because the odds are a bit juicier and while rookies have had some recent success in this event (Zach LaVine, Terrence Ross, Blake Griffin), Nance has been a guy who’s wanted to compete in this event for a few years now, and finally gets his opportunity to do so.
Finally, wouldn’t it be fitting that Nance gets a win in the Slam Dunk Competition in his new Cleveland uniform, as he tries to live up to the family name in that town. Larry Nance Sr was a prominent part of the Cavaliers franchise in the late 80’s after coming over in a trade, and he too won his first ever appearance in the Slam Dunk Contest back in 1984 – the first time the NBA put on the showcase event during All-Star weekend. Nance Sr wasn’t in a Cavs jersey at the time, but the family bonds in Cleveland and at this event run deep and we may see Jr steal the show Saturday evening.
Best Bet: Larry Nance Jr (+275)