The NBA’s All-Star Weekend is here. That means the only real basketball available to us for the next week or so will be of the college variety, which makes this arguably the darkest time of the year on the sports calendar. Here’s hoping we can all get through it together.
Fortunately, the internet is a wonderful thing. All of the top online sports betting sites have props and lines available in anticipation of the NBA’s All-Star festivities, which get underway on Friday night in Chicago.
Friday brings us the Rising Stars Game and the All-Star Celebrity Game, which features only a handful of actual celebrities. Saturday brings the Skills Challenge, the 3-Point Shootout and the highly-anticipated Slam Dunk Contest. And then the All-Star Game itself goes down on Sunday night.
Let’s break it all down from a betting perspective using the odds available at BetOnline. We’ll get things underway with the least-anticipated activity on the schedule, the All-Star Celebrity Game.
All-Star Celebrity Game MVP Odds
|“Celebrity”||Odds to Win MVP|
|Chance the Rapper||+700|
|Anthony “Spice” Adams||+1500|
|Lil Rel Howery||+2000|
|Chef Jose Andres||+5000|
See? There are a minimal number of celebrities playing in this so-called “All-Star Celebrity Game.” Those that have won All-Star Celebrity Game MVP in the past include such luminaries as Kevin Hart (4 times!), Justin Bieber, Michael Rapaport, Terrell Owens and Win Butler.
Quavo took home the honors two years ago, while Famous Los won it last year. So, it’s no surprise that Quavo (+200) and Famous Los (+300) are the favorites to win it this year in the Windy City.
If you want some value, I don’t mind taking a shot on some of the actual professional basketball players that will be playing. Former NBAers Quentin Richardson (+2800) and Darius Miles (+3300) are a couple of long shots, as are the WNBA’s A’ja Wilson (+3300) and Chelsea Gray (+3300). Each of these 4 people has more basketball talent than all of the other players in this game combined, so there’s the value. I’d take Wilson first out of that group.
Hannibal Buress is a recognizable name, but a heavyset 5’10” fellow doesn’t necessarily profile all that well as a basketball player. I think Chance the Rapper is an interesting candidate at +700. The Chicago native is going to want to put on a show for the home crowd.
Betting on Celebrity MVP is obviously a total crapshoot, but Chance at +700 makes for a solid value option. Otherwise, give me A’ja Wilson to steal the show if you want a long shot at +3300.
The Pick: Chance the Rapper (+700), A’ja Wilson (+3300, for value)
Rising Stars MVP Odds
|Player||Odds to Win MVP|
|Jaren Jackson Jr.||+1400|
Now we can get to some actual basketball players. This year’s Rising Stars Game features plenty of big names. We have a pair of actual All-Stars in the game in Luka Doncic and Trae Young, as well as a couple of future All-Stars in Zion Williamson and Ja Morant. You can certainly argue that others, like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Devonte’ Graham and Jaren Jackson Jr. have All-Star appearances in their respective futures, as well.
It’s hard not to be attracted to the star-level players when it comes to betting on which of these guys will take home MVP honors at the Rising Stars Game. However, the list of recent players that have won MVP at this game is hardly laden with superstars. Kyle Kuzma won it last year. Bogdan Bogdanovic did so the year before. Jamal Murray, Andrew Wiggins, Kenneth Faried and DeJuan Blair are others that have done so in recent years.
The starters will likely play a few more minutes than the bench players, but it’s worth wondering how much Doncic and Young will feature in this game at all considering they’ll be in action on Sunday. Both are capable of putting on a show in the Rising Stars Game, of course, but I expect both to take a back seat here.
Zion certainly stands out, even as a +250 favorite. Williamson has wasted no time in acclimating himself to the NBA game, and a defense-free environment like the one we’ll see in this game means we’ll be seeing plenty of Zion highlights here. I expect him to put monster numbers on the board here, so I’m having a hard time going against the chalk.
People will be watching for Zion dunks. I expect Zion to comply.
I think there’s decent value in Graham at +2000, while I don’t hate SGA at +1200. I think the American team will likely win this game considering how lopsided the rosters look, which makes me like Williamson even more.
It’s the boring pick, but I think it’s the obvious one.
The Pick: Zion Williamson (+250)
Rising Stars Winner
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that 5 of the 6 best players in this game will be taking the court for the American side. Trae Young, Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, Devonte’ Graham and Jaren Jackson Jr. is a fearsome fivesome. Luka is on the other side, but the Team World roster thins out in a hurry.
All-Star contests like this are inherently unpredictable, but I’d be a little surprised if the Americans didn’t trounce the World team here. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
The Pick: Team USA (-7.5)
Skills Challenge Winner
|Player||Odds to Win Skills Challenge|
We typically associate the Skills Challenge with point guards, but we’ve seen a few big men fare well in the competition in recent years. Karl-Anthony Towns, Kristaps Porzingis and Jayson Tatum have all won this competition within the last 4 years. Spencer Dinwiddie won it a couple of years ago as the lone exception.
I think Bam Adebayo could be a dark horse here at +1200, but his lack of range could prove costly in his quest for the title. You have to make a 3-pointer in this competition, and Adebayo is just 1-11 from downtown on the season. That could be the undoing for both Bam and Domantas Sabonis.
Tatum is intriguing at +500 as the defending champion. Dinwiddie (+300) and Gilgeous-Alexander (+400) are obvious frontrunners, while Patrick Beverley is lurking at +600. Beverley is the most fierce competitor in the field, and he’s another guy that could feed off the crowd’s energy in his hometown of Chicago.
Betting on the Skills Contest winner is obviously difficult, but I’ll take a shot on Beverley at +600. I still generally like point guards in this competition, and there’s plenty of value in those odds.
The Pick: Patrick Beverley (+600)
3-Point Shootout Winner Odds
|Player||Odds to Win 3-Point Shootout|
Former Slam Dunk champion Zach LaVine will be gunning for the 3-point contest trophy for the first time. While the Chicago Bull may have a home-court advantage, I’m not overly bullish on his chances of winning at +1000. Joe Harris (+475) and Devin Booker (+550) are the only participants in this year’s competition that have won it in the past.
Duncan Robinson is probably the least-well-known player on this entire list, but I love him as a +400 favorite here. Robinson leads all competitors in 3-point percentage (43.8 percent) on the season, which puts him narrowly ahead of Davis Bertans (42.4) and Harris (40.8).
I wish Robinson wasn’t the favorite, but the +400 odds are still appetizing enough. I expect the household names like Young, Booker and Buddy Hield to garner most of the betting attention, but give me Robinson at +400. He’s going to put on a show here.
The Pick: Duncan Robinson (+400)
Slam Dunk Contest Winner Odds
|Player||Odds to Win Slam Dunk|
|Derrick Jones Jr.||+135|
This year’s field of Slam Dunk competitors features just one former winner, Dwight Howard. Howard returning to participate makes for a nice story, but I’m having a hard time envisioning the the 34-year-old managing to outdo any of the 3 competitors here. Big men have a hard time winning the Slam Dunk Contest to begin with, so I’ll pass on Superman at +450.
Connaughton is the obvious sleeper at +400 considering he’s not a household name, but I think this comes down to Derrick Jones Jr. and Aaron Gordon. Gordon and DJJ both had legitimate claims to victory in their previous appearances in the competition, and I have a hard time imagining one of them not winning it this time around.
Gordon famously dueled with Zach LaVine in arguably the greatest Slam Dunk Contest of all-time back in 2016. Gordon eventually came out on the short end in what amounted to a highway robbery. Jones lost a close contest against Glenn Robinson III 3 years ago.
I think this is Gordon’s contest to lose. Just look at what he did on that memorable night in ’16. If we get more of this, I don’t see how he can’t win it.
The Pick: Aaron Gordon (+150)
All-Star Game Winner
For the second year in a row, LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo got to pick their teams by virtue of being the leading vote-getters for the All-Star Game. I understand that Antetokounmpo wants to play with a bunch of his fellow Europeans in the All-Star Game, but what is he doing? LeBron picked a way better team!
The starting 5 for Team Giannis will feature Antetokounmpo, Kemba Walker, Joel Embiid, Pascal Siakam and Trae Young. Team LeBron has James, Anthony Davis, James Harden, Luka Doncic and Kawhi Leonard. I mean…
Even the reserves look lopsided. LeBron’s bench includes Nikola Jokic, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Devin Booker. Giannis has Kyle Lowry, Khris Middleton, Donovan Mitchell and Bam Adebayo.
There will be no defense in this game, but based on sheer talent how can you go against Team LeBron here? 5 of the 6 best players in the teams’ respective starting lineups happen to play for Team LeBron.
The Pick: Team LeBron (-5)
All-Star Game MVP Odds
|“Celebrity”||Odds to Win MVP|
Russell Westbrook won’t be a starter this time around, but as a 2-time All-Star Game MVP it’s hard not to like the value on Russ at +2000. We know Westbrook is always hunting to pad his stat line, and the defense-free nature of the All-Star Game suits his skill set very nicely. I would definitely be happy to take a stab at Westbrook at the +2000 odds.
Anthony Davis topped the 50-point plateau in winning All-Star MVP 3 years ago as a member of the Pelicans, and now he’ll be taking the floor in his hometown. Hometown narratives are always in play with exhibition games like this one, so I get it if you want to bet on AD at +400.
Luka Doncic makes for an interesting option at +600. This will be his first All-Star experience, and it’s safe to expect the Mavs’ phenom to be included in no shortage of highlights on Sunday night. He and Trae Young (+1000) both profile very well for the All-Star experience.
I’d bet on Giannis (+500) before taking LeBron (+500) at the same odds considering James has won All-Star MVP 3 times in the past. I could see LeBron taking a backseat to others considering he’s been down this road before. Getting his Lakers co-star, Davis, involved early and often wouldn’t be a surprise.
If you want a safe pick, take Davis (+400), Giannis (+500) or Luka (+600). If you want a long shot, I love Westbrook at +2000. It’s the All-Star Game Why not go big with your betting risk?
The Pick: Russell Westbrook (+2000)