There will not be any NBA games on Saturday, but there will be contests. NBA players will be in competition, and we can bet on their strengths and skills.
The All-Star festivities get underway at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday night. The first event is the Kia Skills Challenge and it is followed by the classic and never disappointing All-Star Weekend favorite, the Starry 3-Point Contest. The final event is the always controversial and often disappointing, AT&T Slam Dunk. However, with action on each contest, nothing will be a disappointment.
Here are my favorite bets available on DraftKings Sportsbook for the NBA All-Star Saturday slate.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
Kia Skills Challenge
Team Jazz -120
There is more to this pick than just the home town narrative, but that is a big part of it. Every NBA team, thus nearly every NBA player, is struggling on the road this season. Away records are abysmal across the board. This is also a weekend contest, and NBA players have been ambivalent towards working weekends this season. Team Jazz will have the crowd behind them, but more importantly, they will be well rested.
What do we suspect Team Rookies is going to be doing in their first trip to the NBA All-Star weekend? Are they going to lock themselves in their hotel rooms and study tape? Will they work together for hours in the gym on Friday and Saturday? Or are they in Utah to have fun? This contest means nothing. They’re traveling salesman attending a mandatory conference and letting their hair down at night. They’re not a serious team and neither is a team that shares a last name. Giannis Antetokounmpo is so legendary that his name alone has secured NBA jobs for his brothers. This is the type of nepotism only Fredo Corleone can truly appreciate.
2022 — Team Cavs (+220)
2021 — Domantas Sabonis (+500)
2020 — Bam Adebayo (+900)
2019 — Jayson Tatum (+500)
2018 — Spencer Dinwiddie (+1300)
2017 — Kristaps Porzingis (+1000)
Starry 3-Point Contest
Lauri Markkanen +700
Bet the home town hero. Markkanen has been a revelation for Utah this season. He was good for the Cavaliers last season, but he has been great for the Jazz. Salt Lake City is his town and this is his moment to show off.
Markkanen is not a marksman, but neither was Karl-Anthony Towns. The most effective strength in this contest isn’t necessarily pure shooting or a smooth, repetitive stroke. It’s not precision, either. It’s motivation. Who wants it? Who cares? Towns felt slighted last season when no one gave him a chance and treated the big man’s appearance as a joke. So, he sat the wine bottle to the side and put on a show. Don’t believe in this narrative? Look up past legendary winners and you will find similar motivation stories.
When we think of the 3-Point Contest, we think of Larry Bird. No one had a bigger chip on his shoulder. His motivation and confidence were on another level. In 1988 the contest was held in Chicago, home of rising superstar Michael Jordan. Bird stole the show when he didn’t even bother to take off his warm-up. Jordan watched along on a monitor in the tunnel entrance at the United Center and said, “He hasn’t even taken his top off yet. I’d hate to see him when he takes off his top.” Before that contest, Larry Bird legendarily walked into the locker room and asked, “Who’s playing for second?” There was silence in the locker room. Bird went on to win his third consecutive 3-Point contest.
Markkanen isn’t statistically the best 3-point shooter in this contest, but shooting in a game is different — ask Ben Simmons. Being good enough is all that matters and Markkanen is having the best season of his career from behind the line. Currently, the seven-foot shooter ranks 20th in 3-point percentage. His 41.3% 3-point percentage isn’t too far behind league-leader Malcolm Brogdon (45.5%) — not too mention, Markkanen has taken almost twice as many threes as Brogdon and his 164 made 3-pointers places him inside the top 10.
My apologies if this article sends you down a “Larry Bird trash talking” YouTube rabbit hole.
2022 — Karl-Anthony Towns (+1200)
2021 — Steph Curry (+175)
2020 — Buddy Hield (+550)
2019 — Joe Harris (+600)
2018 — Devin Booker (+550)
2017 — Eric Gordon (+900)
AT&T Slam Dunk
Mac McClung +160
It’s the Slam Dunk contest. Narratives are welcome. McClung has been a bit of everywhere. From Georgetown to Texas Tech, and the bigs to the G League and back again. He’s played for the Lakers, Bulls and now the 76ers. All of this in just three years. Hopefully, his feet have as much bounce as his career.
The dunk contest doesn’t mean anything, but in a league where notoriety and name carry weight, this contest means everything to McClung. The other participants have nothing on the line. They have nothing to gain. McClung has the opportunity to capture the imagination of fans and GMs. Take the player that is approaching this contest seriously.
Also, this is a contest decided by judges. These judges are human. They are emotional beings. McClung’s story line is known. Sentiment will be a factor.
My apologies if this article sends you down a “white guy basketball” YouTube rabbit hole.
2022 — Obi Toppin (+175)
2021 — Anfernee Simons (+175)
2020 — Derrick Jones Jr. (+150)
2019 — Hamidou Diallo (+325)
2018 — Donovan Mitchell (+220)
2017 — Glenn Robinson III (+750)
2016 — Zach LaVine (-100)
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is greenflagradio2) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.