The arrival of NBA’s All-Star Weekend is far from the basketball sports betting wasteland one might initially assume. Yes, the six-day break in the regular season brings a departure from the nightly smorgasbord of games to choose from. Yet there’s actually still plenty of hardwood action to plunk cash down on.
No other professional league has managed to turn their All-Star proceedings into as dynamic and multi-layered an event as the NBA. By the time the actual All-Star game rolls around Sunday — a contest that actually may be the most dubious to handicap of all the weekend’s wagering options — there will have been plenty of other opportunities for those who want to continue getting their NBA betting fix.
DraftKings Sportsbook offering odds on All-Star Weekend events
This year’s All-Star extravaganza unfolds in Charlotte, North Carolina at Spectrum Center, home of the Hornets. There are events spread throughout three days, beginning with Friday’s All-Star Celebrity Game.
In addition to the All-Star game itself, DraftKings Sportsbook is offering odds on the Rising Stars Challenge, the Skills Challenge and the Three-Point Shootout.
Notably, there were odds initially made available on the Slam Dunk Contest as well, although those were subsequently pulled. An e-mail to DraftKings seeking comment on that decision has yet to be replied to as of this writing.
Rising Stars Game- Team World vs. Team USA (Friday, Feb. 15)
Favorite: Team USA -3
Moneyline: Team USA -155/ Team World +128
Projected total: 290.5
The Rising Stars Game has been in its current format since 2016. It pits two squads of at least three rookies and three second-year players. Each roster typically consists of four backcourt players, four frontcourt players and two swingmen. The game is formatted into two 20-minute halves.
Notable participants on each roster include:
- Deandre Ayton (Suns)
- Bogdan Bogdanovic (Kings)
- Luka Doncic (Mavericks)
- Lauri Markkanen (Bulls)
- Ben Simmons (76ers)
- John Collins (Hawks)
- Trae Young (Hawks)
- Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
- Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
- Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
Skills Challenge (Saturday, Feb. 16)
The Skills Challenge competition was first instituted for 2003 All-Star Weekend. The contest is formatted as a single elimination tournament.Skills tested are ball-handling, passing and shooting.
The participating players face off against the other in pairs and traverse an obstacle course while dribbling around obstructions, successfully passing into a suspended net and draining a three-pointer from the top of the key. The first player to score the trey is declared the winner of the pairing.
The final round is guaranteed to feature a matchup between a guard and a center. The defending champion, Spencer Dinwiddie of the Brooklyn Nets, won’t be able to participate in this year’s contest due to recent thumb surgery.
DK Sportsbook’s odds for each participant are as follows:
- Luka Doncic +400
- De’Aaron Fox +400
- Trae Young +500
- Mike Conley +550
- Nikola Jokic +600
- Jayson Tatum +600
- Kyle Kuzma +700
- Nikola Vucevic +750
Three-Point Shootout (Saturday, Feb. 16)
The Three-Point Shootout is the longest-tenured of All-Star Weekend’s complementary events, having been instituted in 1986. For the first time, the field has been expanded to 10 participants this year.
The contest features five racks of five balls set up around the three-point area of the court. Four of the balls are worth one point apiece. A fifth one — a red, white and blue ball — is considered the “money ball”. Successfully draining a trey with the money ball nets two points instead of one.
Each participant gets one minute to put up as many three-point attempts as they can. The maximum possible score in each round is 34 points. The top three scores advance to face off in the championship round.
This year’s defending champion is the Suns’ Devin Booker, who checks in with the second-highest odds of winning again behind the Warriors’ Stephen Curry. Booker set a record last year for most points in a round by racking up 28 of the possible 34.
DK Sportsbook’s odds for each participant are as follows:
- Stephen Curry +215
- Devin Booker +450
- Joe Harris +450
- Seth Curry +600
- Buddy Hield +650
- Damian Lillard +800
- Danny Green +1150
- Kemba Walker +1150
- Khris Middleton +2000
- Dirk Nowitzki +3000
All-Star Game- Team Lebron vs. Team Giannis (Sunday, Feb. 17)
Favorite: Team LeBron -6
Moneyline: Team LeBron -245/ Team Giannis +195
Projected total: 310.5
The weekend is capped off with the 67th NBA All-Star Game. This year will mark the second edition of a format that sees two team captains putting together a roster from All-Star eligible players. The player selection process was televised for the first time this year.
Typically featuring precious little defense, the All-Star Game traditionally generates NBA 2K-like statistics and combined point totals. Even so, a projected total of over 310 points may seem absurd at first blush. But it comes off as almost stingy when considering the numbers generated in four of the last five ASGs, contests that featured many of the stars that will play an integral part in this year’s game:
- 2017: 374 points
- 2016: 369 points
- 2015: 321 points
- 2014: 318 points
After both LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo finished their selections and executed a Russell Westbrook-for-Ben Simmons trade, the final All-Star squads shape up as follows:
- LeBron James
- Kevin Durant
- Kyrie Irving
- Kawhi Leonard
- James Harden
- Anthony Davis
- Klay Thompson
- Damian Lillard
- Ben Simmons
- LaMarcus Aldridge
- Karl-Anthony Towns
- Bradley Beal
- Dwyane Wade
- Giannis Antetokounmpo
- Stephen Curry
- Joel Embiid
- Paul George
- Kemba Walker
- Khris Middleton
- Nikola Jokic
- Russell Westbrook
- Blake Griffin
- D’Angelo Russell
- Nikola Vucevic
- Kyle Lowry
- Dirk Nowitzki
Other wagering options also available
In addition to the event-based odds just listed, there are naturally also plenty of prop– and parlay-based wagering options. These include odds on the MVP of each game, as well as various parlays involving both the Rising Stars Challenge and the All-Star Game itself.
The first half of the NBA season is in the books. Well, between 57 and 59 games are completed, leaving between 25 and 23 games remaining on respective schedules.
A brief moment of silence for the league’s ability to understand how math works.
All-Star Weekend has arrived, a lackadaisical convention in Charlotte signifying the homestretch toward the playoffs.
Yet something interesting has happened that forces us to reflect on what happened during the “first half” of the season. It’s not the fact that the Golden State Warriors, ruiners of NBA sports betting, don’t own the league’s best record or even the second-best record. (Respect, Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors.)
The lightning rod of hate, the titan of tampering, has garnered mass attention from bettors, particularly in New Jersey.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook data in NJ, LeBron James received the most betting action among individual players so far this season. Despite the King missing 18 games just ahead of All-Star Weekend, James still drew more attention for individual performances such as over/under totals on points in a game, among other player-specific prop markets.
That’s ahead of Houston’s James Harden, who’s eclipsed 30 points in 31 straight games that’s tied for the second-longest streak in NBA history. It’s ahead of Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid as well as Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, the league’s next generation of stars.
But that is only the beginning of what we’ve learned from NBA betting thus far.
It’s the Warriors’ title to lose
The season began as it has each of the past few years: Golden State will win the NBA championship.
This year was, and still is, even more to the extreme. From the season’s get-go, pundits crowned the Warriors and looked ahead to the 2019-20 season. Golden State, after all, entered the season with a -200 line to win its third straight title. No other team over the past 30 years carried such heavy favorite odds.
Naturally, at both DraftKings and FanDuel Sportsbook, the Warriors have been the most wagered-on team in the league this season, ahead of the 76ers and Lakers.
For this exercise, though, who the Warriors play — and could potentially lose to in the playoffs — becomes more entertaining.
Per DraftKings, the most popular Warriors opponent wagered on has been the Boston Celtics, followed by the Lakers and 76ers. Additionally, Philadelphia, Boston and Los Angeles have been the most bet-on teams to claim the NBA title outside of Golden State, just ahead of Toronto and Milwaukee.
In-play betting is king for NJ sportsbooks
Just before the NBA season tipped off in October, Kambi Group, which powers DraftKings, introduced in-play betting for the 2018-19 season. The game had become “extremely popular over the last few years,” according to Kambi Head of Live Basketball Stefanos Moysidis. It had become faster and smarter with “teams relying on analytics more than ever before.”
Kambi recognized the demand of in-play wagering. And answered. As have other NJ online sports betting products.
FanDuel, for example, has seen in-game betting become a lynchpin for NBA action. According to the sportsbook, 45 percent of sports betting handle for NBA games have come via in-play betting.
Interestingly, no other market has emerged as a go-to for bettors. Moneyline wagering and “other bet types” represent 30 percent of bets, while point spread and over/under totals come in at 27 and 13 percent, respectively.
Risers and fallers for NBA futures
No other sport has a trade deadline quite like the NBA. The first month and a half of the new calendar year features a spinoff of sorts to the NBA season. Yes, the Warriors are great, and who can dethrone them? Harden is balling, as is Russell Westbrook, averaging a triple-double for the third straight season, has logged an NBA-record 11 straight triple-doubles.
But the trade deadline takes center stage until early February. While the Pelicans did not deal Anthony Davis, as many anticipated, futures odds did shift for several teams after the deadline passed.
According to DraftKings, the Philadelphia 76ers, after shedding Markelle Fultz and acquiring Tobias Harris, among other moves, jumped from 16/1 to 14/1 odds to win the title. The Bucks, with the addition of Nikola Mirotic, went from 14/1 to 11/1 post-deadline. And the Raptors, who brought in Marc Gasol, inched up from 9.5/1 to 9/1 odds.
While Golden State remains the odds-on favorite to win the NBA championship (-225 at DraftKings, -210 at FanDuel), the gap has closed a tad. The Raptors and Bucks have risen to the second- and third-favorites, respectively. Even Philly has climbed, to a fourth-place tie with Boston (DraftKings) and a third-place tie with Milwaukee (FanDuel).
Since the start of the season, the Bucks (70/1 to 11/1) have made the biggest jump in NBA title odds at FanDuel, followed by Toronto (18/1 to 9/1). Even the Denver Nuggets, with the second-best record in the Western Conference and fourth-best leaguewide, have leapt from 100/1 to 30/1.
The flip side of that conversation is just as fun to soak in.
After opening at 7/1 to win the title, the Rockets have slipped to 14/1 at FanDuel. The Lakers went from 9/1 to 22/1, and the Celtics slid from 6.25/1 to 12/1. Going back to the Davis drama, the Pelicans have plummeted from 35/1 season-opening odds to win the championship to 150/1.
The NBA: It’s fantastic.