NBA All-Star Weekend Betting
Few events on the NBA calendar generate more excitement among fans and bettors alike than All-Star Weekend. An annual tradition since 1951, the league’s mid-season showcase has grown from a single exhibition game into a can’t-miss three-day event featuring concerts, celebrity games, and Hall of Fame announcements. At any given moment, you’re likely to see Justin Bieber posting up Kevin Hart, Beyonce belting out “Crazy in Love,” or Kevin Durant chatting amicably with Bill Russell.
The All-Star Game is still the weekend’s biggest attraction, but the Rising Stars Challenge, Skills Challenge, Three-Point Contest, and Slam Dunk Competition routinely produce some of the most memorable moments. Ask any true fan and they’ll tell you exactly where they were when Larry Bird won the three-point shootout without even removing his warm-up jacket or how they felt when they witnessed Michael Jordan taking off from the free-throw line.
Sportsbooks have recently begun cashing in on the excitement of All-Star Weekend by allowing fans to bet on the various events. We have the lowdown on precisely what you can wager on and have some tips to keep in mind before laying down your hard-earned cash.
NBA All-Star Game
How it Works: The NBA All-Star game is a high-octane, 48-minute affair showcasing the world’s best players. The game is divided into four, 12-minute quarters, and generally features more scoring than a Ron Jeremy film.
How to Bet: You can bet on the All-Star Game in three different ways: 1) picking against the spread, 2) selecting the over/under point total, or 3) choosing the MVP.
When betting the spread, you are not picking an outright winner or an outright loser. The team you select either has to win by a certain margin or not lose by that margin. For instance, in 2016, Bodog listed the West as -5.0 favorites and the East as +5.0 underdogs. If you had bet on the West, they would have had to win by at least six points for you to successfully cover the spread and win your wager. Conversely, if you had picked the East, they would have needed to win outright or lose by four points or fewer for you to cover the spread.
Picking the over/under point total is even more straightforward as you simply have to choose whether the final score of the game will be higher (over) or lower (under) than the projected total established by the sportsbook. In 2016, Bodog set the over/under at 348.5, and the final score of the game amounted to 369. If you had chosen the over, you would have won your wager.
Choosing the most valuable player is just a matter of selecting the one player from the 24 competitors that you think will win the award. Sportsbooks rank the players according to their chances and assign odds that reflect their likelihood to win the event.
Unique Considerations: The first thing you have to know about the NBA All-Star game is that it’s less of a basketball game and more of a 48-minute track meet. The players race up and down the court at breakneck speeds while displaying an almost pathological aversion to defense. Three-pointers are launched and full court alley-oops are tossed before the shot clock even has a chance to start ticking down. The game’s outrageous pace was especially evident in 2017 as the players combined for a record 374 points. By comparison, the average point total of a regular season NBA game in 2017 was 211.
More often than not, the MVP is usually the top scorer on the winning team, they’re almost always a starter, and they’re typically a ballhandler.
Selecting just one MVP from such a star-studded group can be a challenge, but there are a few things to keep in mind. More often than not, the MVP is usually the top scorer on the winning team, they’re almost always a starter, and they’re typically a ballhandler. Since 1990, the award has been won by 18 guards, ten forwards, and four centers.
There’s also a certain amount of bias that goes into selecting the game’s top player. Since 1987, a hometown player has won All-Star Game MVP seven times.
|1993||Salt Lake City||Karl Malone and John Stockton||Jazz|
|2004||Los Angeles||Shaquille O’Neal||Lakers|
|2011||Los Angeles||Kobe Bryant||Lakers|
|2017||New Orleans||Anthony Davis||Pelicans|
NBA Slam Dunk Contest
How it works: The Slam Dunk Contest is the NBA’s annual FU to gravity. All four competitors get two dunks in the first round. The two players with the highest combined score advance to the finals, where they throw down two more jams each. The player with the highest combined score is then deemed the winner.
How to Bet: You select the one player from the Slam Dunk Competition’s four-man field that you think will win. Sportsbooks rank the players according to their chances and assign odds that reflect their likelihood to win the event. In 2017, Bodog selected Magic power forward Aaron Gordon as their odds-on favorite at -110, meaning his implied probability to win the event was 52.4%. The eventual winner was Bucks reserve Glenn Robinson III, who was originally considered a longshot. Bodog gave him +900 odds, which carried a 10% implied probability.
Unique Considerations: Unlike the All-Star game where every player is a household name, the Slam Dunk Contest usually features emerging players who have yet to make their mark in the league. In 2017, the four-man field featured Suns rookie Derrick Jones Jr., who had logged just 24 minutes in the NBA, and Bucks forward Glenn Robinson III, who had started just five games in his first two years in the league. The relative anonymity of players in the contest can make choosing a winner especially difficult.
Another factor that makes the Slam Dunk contest a particularly risky bet is the fact that the event is judged by a panel of former players. Their personal bias (and in some cases relationships with the dunkers) can skewer the result of the competition. In 2017, the panel featured five judges who had all played against Robinson’s father and had known the 6’6” Robinson III since he was smaller than Mugsy Bogues.
Fortunately, there are a few trends that bettors can count on regardless of who the competitors or judges are. For starters, shorter players generally fare very well since their dunks have a much higher level of difficulty. The 5’6” Spud Webb won the contest in 1986, as did 6’1” Dee Brown in 1991 and 5’9” Nate Robinson in 2006, 2009, and 2010.
The dunker who wins the crowd also usually wins the event.