NBA All-Star Weekend Picks: Which Underdogs Pull The Upsets?
Everyone knows the best part of the NBA All-Star Weekend is Saturday’s skills challenges. Despite the NBA betting lines, these contests are anyone’s games. It’s not like the actual NBA, where you have those that are thriving and those that are tanking.
However, this contests-Skills Challenge, Three-Point Shootout and Slam Dunk Contest-have open fields where underdogs could win. Does a longshot prove Vegas’ NBA odds wrong?
2022 NBA All-Star Game Odds Odds By BetUs
|Team Durant||+5½ ( -110 )||320 ( -110 )||+185|
|Team LeBron||-5½ ( -110 )||320 ( -110 )||-215|
— BSN Sports (@BSNsportsblog) February 18, 2022
NBA All-Star Weekend: What’s New?
Almost every year, the NBA finds some way to tinker with during All-Star Weekend. This year, they are changing the Skills Challenge. Instead of individual players, we now have groups of three. Each section of the skills challenge is then divided into different rounds, consisting of shooting, passing, relay and the half-court shot. The Three-Point Shootout and Dunk Contest remain largely unchanged, though both events return to regular-sized fields after last year’s field of smaller groups.
The Contestants: An all-rookie team, Team Rooks, leads the challenge as the favorites at -125m while the home team, Team Cavs, is a distant second at +200. Coming in as underdogs is Giannis Antetokounmpo and his two brothers, Thanasis and Alex. Competing as Team Antetokounmpo, they’re +375 underdogs and aren’t even expected to advance to the final round. A Team Rooks-Team Cavs pairing is heavily favored at -275, per the basketball odds.
Why The Underdogs Can Win: Chemistry. The Antetokounmpos have been playing with each other and know one another better than the rivals. What’s lacking in finesse is compensated for in familiarity. Most of the events, especially the relay, require teams to be in sync, with a slim margin of error. The Antetokounmpos are also, collectively, the largest team, and those big strides could help them cover ground faster than the other guys.
The Pick: An Antetokounmpo win would be iconic, but we can’t overlook the skill discrepancy between them and the other teams. Team Rooks has a nice balance of shooting, ball handling, and athleticism, with the three players-Scottie Barnes, Josh Giddey and Cade Cunningham-excelling in every category.
Pick: Team Rooks (-125)
Mountain Dew Three-Point Contest
The Contestants: Fred VanVleet and Trae Young are tied as favorites, each at +550, while Luke Kennard and Zach LaVine are not far behind, both players at +600. VanVleet, Young and LaVine are All-Stars, while Kennard has the highest 3-point percentage among all the contestants. Desmond Bane and Patty Mills are at +650 to win, while the longshots are big man Karl-Anthony Towns and CJ McCollum at +1100 each.
Why The Underdogs Can Win: It isn’t often that big men win the Three-Point Shootout. In 36 contests, only one player sized 6’11” or greater has won. That was Dirk Nowitzki in 2006, but Karl-Anthony Towns is shooting a career-best 39.6 percent from deep, including 41.1 percent from the corner. McCollum, on the other hand, shoots a similar percent, but a whopping 44% from the corner. He also has been on fire since joining the Pelicans.
The Pick: Towns and McCollum have each had some rough patches shooting the deep ball this season, but things change with no defenders in your face. McCollum has performed poorly in this competition in past tries, but that doesn’t always carry over. Paul Pierce proved it by winning the 2010 contest after finishing last on his first attempt. Getting an 11-1 payday is a lot of juice for a streaky shooter like McCollum.
Pick: CJ McCollum (+1100)
2022 AT&T Slam Dunk Contest
The Contestants: This one looks to be down to two competitors going by the NBA odds, Jalen Green and Obi Toppin are both at +175 each. Green is a budding star who shares the same build as former winners such as Jason Richardson and Kobe Bryant. Toppin, meanwhile, wowed everyone in last year’s contest, despite his final loss. Cole Anthony is listed third at +325, with Juan Toscano-Anderson the highest-priced at +450.
Why The Underdogs Can Win: Both Anthony and Toscano-Anderson will enter this contest with the same underdog mentality that’s helped them exceed expectations. Anthony has the fewest dunks among the contestants, but has flashed an explosive leaping ability. Toscano- Anderson was already an underground star of sorts, due to his mixtapes on YouTube.
The Pick: Between Anthony and Toscano-Anderson, the latter seems to have more of a flair for the dramatic. While he doesn’t have the same athleticism as Green or Toppin, the dunk contest is all about creativity and charisma. “JTA” has that as he will look to rally the fans to his side.
Pick: Juan Toscano-Anderson (+450)