The NBA takes a break starting Friday as it heads to its midseason classic in the All-Star Break. On Friday, the league’s top young stars battle it out in the Team World vs Team USA game. Of course, the big event will be on Sunday when the NBA’s 24 best players will be matched up in the Team LeBron vs Team Giannis All-Star game which culminates the weekend in Chicago.
All-Star Weekend Saturday is sandwiched in between the two games but without a doubt, it will be the most anticipated with three equally thrilling contests in the Skills Challenge, Three-Point Contest, and the Dunk Contest. This year’s contest features exciting competitors which provide us with excellent betting values. Because there are no marquee names on either three competitions, the field is wide open.
Here are the latest odds for the NBA State Farm All-Star, taken from BetOnline as of 02/13/20:
2020 NBA Dunk Contest
|Derrick Jones Jr.||+140|
The last time that the NBA All-Star weekend was held in Chicago was in 1988 when we witnessed one of the best Dunk Contest duels of all-time. Hometown kid Michael Jordan went toe to toe with the Human Highlight Film Dominique Wilkins to deliver one of the best dunk contest finals ever. Of course, the hometown boy won it after taking off from the foul line for his final dunk.
This time around, there is no hometown player in the contest. But we have a former dunk contest champion in Dwight Howard who won in 2008. We also have two former runners-up in Aaron Gordon and Derrick Jones Jr. Pat Connaughton meanwhile, is attempting to become the first player from the Milwaukee Bucks to win the title.
When Dwight Howard won, it wasn’t so much about his creativity, rather it was about his agility and his ability to do what smaller players could. Howard recently revealed that the late Kobe Bryant had planned to help him in the dunk contest but didn’t elaborate. Whatever that was going to be, we will never know but Howard will surely try to do a Kobe tribute to get some sympathy here. No question about the athleticism here but I don’t think Dwight will be creative enough to win.
I think this goes down to Aaron Gordon and Derrick Jones Jr. Jones is an explosive in-game dunker whose hops and power in throwing the ball down make him a good favorite here. As for Connaughton, I think he will be like Howard- a contestant that wows the audience with his physical ability ( being a small guy who can dunk ). I like Aaron Gordon here based on what we saw in 2016 when he lost a controversial contest to Zach LaVine. I think Gordon is the most creative dunker here and he also has size, agility, and power.
Prediction: Aaron Gordon
2020 Three-Point Contest
When we talk about the three-point shot, the first thing that comes to mind are two words: Splash Brothers. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have reinvented the way the game of basketball is played. Since the two teamed up at Golden State, they have proved that you can win games and even NBA titles with the three-point shot as your main weapon. The Splash brothers broke one three-point record after another. Curry and Thompson set individual records as well but with both currently injured, this is the first time since 2012 that neither one of them is here.
Their absence has benefited sports bettors because, without a clear favorite, there are plenty of contestants with excellent betting value. For instance, the top favorite Duncan Robinson is at +300 already and that’s terrific value if you compare it to the top betting favorites in the Dunk Contest and Skills Challenge.
There is no clear winner here, really and while you can point to Joe Harris as a solid pick because he is the reigning Three-Point King, there is a murderer’s row of shooters waiting to take his title away. Harris is currently ranked 21st in the league in accuracy at 40.8% on the season. However, if you base your pick on which player is the more accurate shooter this season, you will have to give it to Khris Middleton who is 5th at 43.8% or Duncan Robinson who is at 6th place at also 43.8%. Or, you could go with Davis Bertans who is 10th overall at 42.4%.
However, you have to like Davis Bertans at +350 because he has a shooting stroke that looks tailor-made for the 3-point contest. Bertans is also a terrific catch and shoot player which is one of the main criteria for picking a winner for this event. Then you also like Devonte Graham at +1000 because he is a guy who can heat up in a hurry. Graham has made six or more three-pointers in 14 games this season.
But when you take a look at the field, you have to notice Trae Young and Devin Booker. Young is a career 34.9% three-ball shooter and is shooting 36.9% from deep this season. Booker is a career 35.5% three-point shooter who is shooting 35.8% on the year. Both aren’t shooting at a high clip this season but both have been proven to deliver in big games. We know this contest is held at the biggest stage in basketball which is All-Star weekend. I expect Young and Booker to be in the mix.
I’ll go with Davis Bertans here because he has played three games in Chicago this season and he has averaged 40.6% from deep at the United Center. Bertans knocked down four out of 10 three-point baskets on the average in his three visits to Chicago this season.
Prediction: Davis Bertans
2020 Skills Challenge Contest
|Shai Gilgeous Alexander||+400|
This contest is probably the most difficult to handicap because it involves plenty of skills. But hey, isn’t it why it’s called the skills challenge? When you take a look at this contest, it’s about which player can do different tasks at the fastest time possible. So it’s not just about ability, it’s also about speed.
But when we say speed, it doesn’t necessarily mean a small guy because we’ve seen big men like Karl Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis win in back to back years. That’s why don’t count out Domantas Sabonis and Bam Adebayo although if you pick between the two, you have to like Bam who has more explosion and is more athletic. Sabonis is skilled but if you want to pick from the bottom, go with Adebayo.
The top of the leaderboard though is just oozing with talent and speed. No question, Spencer Dinwiddie and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander may be the fastest in the group. Both guards can go up and down the court very quickly and can deliver the pass right on the money. Most guys end up losing this contest because of the three-point basket, I think Dinwiddie beats Alexander if they go one on one.
The defending champion Jayson Tatum is at +500 and you can’t count out a man who’s done it before. Pascal Siakam isn’t as fast as Tatum but he is crafty. Khris Middleton will likely make the three-point basket in one attempt but I’m not sure if he can outrun Tatum, Siakam, Dinwiddie, and Alexander. Beverley is on the list but I think he’s still hurt and even if he makes it here, I’m not sure if he’s 100%
I like Dinwiddie because of his skill and speed and I also like Jayson Tatum because of his value. Dinwiddie won this contest in 2018 and we haven’t seen a repeat winner since Damian Lillard in 2013 and 2014. I’ll go with Dinwiddie here because he is the quickest player in the contest. I’m not too confident though so if you pick Tatum, I won’t argue. I will go with Dinwiddie.
Prediction: Spencer Dinwiddie