We have come a long way since the 30-somethings were the focus of NBA All-Star Weekend – especially in the growing sports gambling market in the US. We may have some of that on Sunday, but as far as All-Star Saturday goes, that is not the case.
With All-Star Saturday almost upon us – it happens Saturday night in Chicago – the action is pouring in on some players who were household names only at their colleges not too long ago.
In the skills challenge, the most popular selections by bet count are Jayson Tatum (+430) and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+430) with 29% and 20% of the bets respectively. Former winner Spencer Dinwiddie of Brooklyn remains the favorite at (+380), and the longest shot in the field is Bam Adebayo on Miami at 1,200.
As of mid-afternoon Friday, there had been almost no movement on the game lines, which is understandable because casual NBA fans are not really going to start looking at these events until the workweek ends. But the sportsbook operators expect that dynamic to change as the weekend transpires.
Over at PointsBet, which on Friday signed a lucrative content deal with the NBA, Tatum ( at +550) is drawing 37 percent of the action, followed by Gilgeous-Alexander (+450) at 19 percent. Pascal Siakam (+500) is next at 16 percent. Curiously, the second choice in the field, Khris Middleton of Milwaukee (+300) has drawn only 2 percent of the handle.
Johnny Avello of DraftKings Sportsbook said there had been limited action, but bettors have gravitated to Khris Middleton and Jayson Tatum.
Avello could not gauge exactly how high the DraftKings handle will be for the weekend, but he said it should be tantamount to what is seen for a typical NFL Sunday game, or the Oscars.
In the popular 3-point contest, the most popular selections by bet count are Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks and Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns with 19% and 17% of the bets, respectively, at FanDuel Sportsbook. Joe Harris of the Brooklyn Nets remains the favorite to defend his title (+350), Young is (+500) and Booker – added as an All-Star Friday after Damian Lillard pulled out – is (+500).
At PointsBet the action has come in on Duncan Robinson (+550), who has drawn 30 percent of the bet count. Next is Booker, whose odds have dropped from +700 to +500.
Remember, the rules of the 3-point shootout have changed this year, and there will be an extra ball being launched from far behind the 3-point line.
The eight-player field will take turns shooting balls from five racks set up around the 3-point arc. Four of the racks will hold four regular balls worth one point each and one multi-colored “money ball” that are worth two points apiece. One rack will be a special “all money ball” rack. The new rule twist is the addition of two extra green balls set six feet behind the 3-point line. That makes for a maximum score of 40 points in a round. Contestants will also get an extra 10 seconds to take their shots, bringing the total up to 70 seconds.
Player to keep an eye on: Buddy Hield of Sacramento. Yes, he lost his starting job for the Kings, but has shot more 3-pointers than anyone not named James Harden and Lillard this season, all while hitting at a rate of nearly 39 percent. He can get as hot as anybody in this competition. Hield squares his body to the net very well and his release is one of the quickest and smoothest in the NBA.
As noted in our most recent column, there is no betting on the slam dunk contest —although PointsBet had it up briefly. The reason is because the winner will be declared by judges, and – no offense to the credibility of this year’s judges – in the abstract, judges can be paid off or otherwise influenced.
This year’s judges are Dwyane Wade, Candace Parker, Common, Scottie Pippen and Chadwick Boseman.
More ways to bet All-Star Saturday
At DraftKings Sportsbook, there is a wager that other books do not have: Who might make all moneyball shots. The favorite is Joe Harris at +350, and the long shot is Devonte Graham of Charlotte at +350.
The favorite to make both Mountain Dew moneyball shots (this is a new feature, using a green ball) is Trae Young at +400. The longest shot is Graham at +900.