- David Troy
Slam Dunk Bets for NBA All-Star Weekend
We've made it to the All-Star break for the NBA. This isn't the spot where I'll sit here and break down the "first half" of the season. The season is almost 2/3rd complete for most teams, if not further. Now is a time for the stars to shine, but in reality, there are a lot of stars that aren't even playing in this game. Three of the players that were voted in as starters are injured and sitting out. One guy isn't even in the same conference anymore. So, it is a bit of a cluster, but we can still have some fun with some casual bets for this NBA All-Star weekend.
Let's start with the dunk contest. There are four participants as there have been in previous years. Mac McClung is the current favorite, and if you're asking who that is, you're probably not alone. He was a YouTube sensation in high school because he was a short white kid that could dunk and had some pretty cool dunks in games. He went onto Georgetown and Texas Tech doing very little. I'm not saying he sucks, but he's never stuck with an NBA team. He racks up points in the G League but he was invited, one, because no one participates in the dunk contest anymore, and two, because the NBA really wants this guy to be another sensation and build social media following with him. He didn't start as the favorite, by the way, He was actually somewhere around +400 I believe when the books opened the line - I would've taken him at that, but at +125 there is no value even if they probably will just give him the award. If I had to pick a winner, it will probably be Keynon Martin Jr. at +250. I won't play any of these guys at this point though. The format of the contest is just stupid with multiple attempts allowed and the same tired material over and over. Instead, I like these other bets better:
Kenyon Marton Jr. average score of dunks over 45.5 -115. I think this has a good chance to hit. He has some power and the only way this doesn't hit is if he misses a bunch of attempts and settles for something basic.
Trey Murphy III also should go over 44.5 for his dunks. In the first round you could see some fairly high scores even if they get cut. The judges aren't usually too tough on players. I've seen guys get 50s even after missing attempts which should be outlawed.
Total perfect 50s over 1.5 -140. The juice is high on this but I think this is as much of a lock as anything. You're telling me that 8 first round dunks and four finals dunks we won't get two 50s? I find that hard to believe.
I think McClung gets one of those 50s at +100. I could see him getting two of them. I think Keynon Marton Jr. at +160 is worth the over as well.
The 3-Pt contest has always been something I enjoy more. Maybe because I can actually do that one myself - I can't dunk any more and never could dunk like these guys anyway so I relate more to this. I'll break the field down slightly and share my favorite two players and who I'll be putting my money on:
I think the two best options here are Keven Huerter at +550 and newly favorited Damian Lillard at +400. Why? Huerter does nothing but shoot threes essentially. He's been really good this season and can find a nice rhythm to win this. Lillard can shoot from anywhere in the gym, and my thought on this is how he's been playing lately is better than anyone in the field, and if he gets hot he will win with ease.
Why not Buddy? He's a fine choice, but I think he is too inconsistent. He can go 0-for-10 from three one day and then the next 6-for-8. I just don't want to support that, even if he has the most threes made in the NBA.
Don't bet on Haliburton, Herro, or Randle. I don't think any of the three of them have a good enough stroke to get the flow going the way they need to.
That leaves Tatum and Markkanen. Tatum is obviously great and can get hot, he might even be the best overall player in this. I do think he has a chance to win but I also wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't advance. So, basically, I just don't have a great read on how he will do in this one. Markkanen has home court advantage so there is something for that. However, I still think he is going to struggle in this first time he participates.
There is a Starry Range Shot category now too. Players can shoot two shots from a further distance and get three points if it goes in. Lillard is most likely to hit one of them and he's priced that way at -175 for over 0.5 made. I'll pass on that. If I'm looking for plus money on anyone, I'd say Tatum will be under 0.5 made in round 1 at +115. I don't think Haliburton will hit from there either at +110. They get two shots from a deeper distance, I think we have the under on our side in this one.
The Moneyball Rack in round 1 has everyone set at 3.5 and all of them are juiced towards the under. I think the over is the right play for Lillard at +105, but the rest of them I think I'd only play the over anyway. None have an exceptional value that you have to take them. I probably won't touch any best streak bets either. I'd think it will be Lillard, Hield, or Huerter, and there is some value, but you're basically just guessing, there's really no way to analyze this effectively enough in my opinion.
Here are some I do like better - these are all first round score bets:
Lillard over 22.5 at -120
Huerter over 20.5 at -130
Tatum over 21.5 at -110
I'd actually argue that all of them are more likely to go over their total than under. The perfect score is 40 and while that won't happen, if they get 3 at each rack which is realistic, that's 18. So for some of these guys, you're asking them to get 4 at 3/5 racks and 3 money balls. That doesn't count the starry night crap.
The Skills Challenge saw team Cleveland beat Team Antetokounmpo last year. This year they are back and they face the Team Rookies and Team Jazz. The Rookies have arguably the best team, but Team Antetokounmpo has the edge in returning. I'd only play the Rookies or a very small longshot on the Antetokounmpos. I mean I have to imagine that Giannis's brothers have nothing better to do than practice for this skills competition, right?
Hope you enjoy. Tail, fade, do whatever you'd like but keep in mind - for me, at least - these are all pretty small plays. It just will be a little extra fun to the Weekend. Oh, and before I'm asked, no, I won't be betting on the All Star Game. They are drafting right before the actual game. That's not enough time to really figure it out. If I think one team has an edge and it is worth it, I'll tweet it out.
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