Almost all of the major All-Star events have undergone serious face-lifts in recent times; the Three-Point Contest has two new shots added in from six feet behind the arc, the Skills Challenge seems to change every year and the All-Star game itself has changed significantly with a revamped “Elam Ending”. Just as a reminder:
- The score will be reset at the beginning of the second and third quarters.
- The winning team from each quarter earns $100,000 to donate to a charity of the captain’s choice.
- The scores from the first three quarters will be combined at the start of the fourth quarter. A target score will then be set at 24 points above the total held by the leading team after three quarters. Whoever reaches that target score first wins. The winning team gets an additional $200,000 for charity.
Confused? Well, you’re not alone. Luckily, our NBA experts have done some digging and, as usual, we’ve still managed to find a stack of gambling value across all the weekend’s festivities.
Rising Stars Challenge
Top Pick Against the Spread:
While the sample size of this event is small (given we’ve only seen this event for the last five years) we think it’s significant that the World team has won 60% of the games in this format.
It’s also significant that the World team boasts the talent of a certain player named Luka Doncic. No one – and we repeat no one – on the USA team has the ability or the talent to guard Doncic, with the likes of Eric Paschall and P.J. Washington likely to receive the unenviable task.
On the other hand, the World team is surprisingly well-equipped to guard Team USA’s biggest stars in Trae Young and Zion Williamson. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has shown he can match up against the slipperiest guards in the league, and while known can really guard Zion, Brandon Clarke is at least kind of in the physical ball-park.
The World team also has an abundance of returning players, with Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Okogie and Doncic – to name a few – all playing their second consecutive Rising Stars game. Familiarity will also help them, as Rui Hachimura and Moritz Wagner can put their Wizards chemistry to good use.
We think the World will cover this line and may even win the game. Back them against the spread.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+400)
Reigning title-holder Jayson Tatum is looking to defend his Skills Challenge crown in Chicago, but it’s the first-timer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander that we like in this one.
It’s always foolhardy picking one of the big men (Domantas Sabonis, Bam Adebayo and Pascal Siakam are no chance), so in our mind it comes down to either Spencer Dinwiddie, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jayson Tatum, Khris Middleton and Patrick Beverley.
Out of that lot, both Dinwiddie and Tatum have already won the event before, which tends to take away some of the motivation to perform. That leaves Middleton – who’s a shooter, not a dribbler – and Beverley.
That leaves Beverley v Gilgeous-Alexander. We’re backing the young buck to make a statement on what should be the first of any All-Star weekend performances for him.
Devonte Graham (+1200)
Graham is the rank outsider in this comp, but we reckon he’s excellent value.
The sophomore Hornets star is fifth in the NBA in total three-pointers and, while his percentage on catch-and-shoot threes is far from compelling, it’s his ability to get hot at a moment’s notice that attracts us in this one. Graham has an incredible 14 games already this year with six or more three-pointers made and is more than capable of taking advantage of the new pair of shots from 29+ feet which are worth triple points.
Without Damian Lillard – who would’ve been our consensus pick had he not picked up an injury – this competition is wide open, and we’re backing Graham to spring the upset over Duncan Robinson and Trae Young.
Aaron Gordon (+130)
While we’d love to go against the grain and pick Pat Connaughton or Dwight Howard, the fact is that Aaron gordon is going to win this pretty comfortably.
The main idea of the Dunk Contest is to pick based on storylines. Gordon – after getting robbed in 2016 – is guaranteed to win a Dunk Contest at some point in his career, and this is his biggest chance. Gordon’s 2016 repertoire of dunks should have won him that award in front of Zach LaVine, and he goes in to this one as the deserved favorite.
Howard – in our opinion – is the biggest threat to Gordon’s dominance, but after more than a decade out of the contest we’re just not sure he has the spring to dazzle like he once did.
Gordon is a spectacular performer and will wow the crowd again.
Team LeBron -4.5, Anthony Davis MVP (+650), Total Points Under
Frankly, Team Giannis is terrible compared to Team LeBron, and a 4.5-point spread is disrespectful to how good the team LeBron picked actually is.
James, Luka Doncic, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden and Anthony Davis is a formidable starting lineup. Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Pascal Siakam, Kemba Walker and Trae Young is… a little meh.
Antetokounmpo has picked a team with a heap of first-time All-Stars, and we’re particularly concerned by the poor three-point shooting of guys like Embiid, Rudy Gobert, Bam Adebayo, who are all on Giannis’ team. The All-Star game is decided from beyond the arc, and up against Harden, Doncic and Young we’re not sure we can see Team Giannis scoring a competitive amount of points.
With the revamped format making it hard for the game to be a blow-out we don’t necessarily think Team LeBron wins by double-digits, but they’ll certainly cover the line.
In terms of the MVP, LeBron is in full-blown assist mode this season and will likely continue his march towards the assists title by dishing out a stack of dimes in this game. Who benefits from that the most? Anthony Davis, his Lakers teammate. Expect a plethora of rim-shattering dunks, as well as a bit of outside shooting for good measure, from the former Pelicans big man.
With regards to total points, the scoring cap will limit scoring, as will the inevitable Kobe Bryant tributes at the start of the game, as will the fact that playing for charity should ensure some semblance of defense.
We don’t know what the total points line will be as yet, but whatever it is – take the under.
We’ve put in the research so you don’t have to! However, gambling is unpredictable by nature so unfortunately we can’t guarantee any results.
All odds and markets through Caesars unless otherwise stated.
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