Friday, February 15, 2013

NBA All Star Saturday (sport, gambling)

The NBA has tried to do many things to make NBA All-Star Saturday more exciting. This year they have introduced the East vs. West concept but my guess is it'll fall flat as usual. The best way to maintain interest in the festivities is probably to have some action on the events, so here are my picks for the main events of the evening. Remember, lines may vary significantly across sportsbooks for props like these.

NBA Skills Challenge

Tony Parker +300
Jrue Holiday +350
Damian Lillard +400
Jeremy Lin +450
Jeff Teague +500
Brandon Knight +600

People tend to think that this is an event about skills and speed. Actually, it's more of a shooting contest. You pretty much need to hit the mid-range shot on your first try to have any chance of winning, and a lot of the passing stations are just putting a ball through a circular target. It's why previous winners have been scoring guards like Dwyane Wade and Deron Williams. It's also this reasoning that led me to pick a big upset winner in Stephen Curry two seasons ago.

Because speed is less of a factor than people think, Tony Parker's age shouldn't matter. But his experience in this event (defending champion) and prowess with the mid-range shot are definitely key, and at +300 is a ridiculously good value play. None of the other names are real shooting/scoring types, but if you really wanted to pick another player, I'd say Jeff Teague is a similar player to Jrue Holiday but at much better odds.

Pick: Tony Parker
Dark Horse: Jeff Teague

3-Point Contest

Stephen Curry +225
Steve Novak +333
Ryan Anderson +400
Kyrie Irving +475
Matt Bonner +600
Paul George +800

There's no denying that Stephen Curry is a great shooter. It's hard for me to pick against him purely on talent. But there's a lot of stamina involved in this contest, and the majority of past winners have been taller, stronger players who tend to play a small forward/wing type of position. I think Ryan Anderson fits this perfectly, and is a better pure shooter than Bonner or George who tend to be good in-game shooters.

Pick/Dark Horse: Ryan Anderson

Slam Dunk Contest

James White +175
Gerald Green +375
Terrence Ross +400
Eric Bledsoe +550
Kenneth Faried +700
Jeremy Evans +800

On pure talent alone, no one beats Gerald Green. A past champion, even in the year he didn't win he made some absolutely ridiculous dunks (blowing candle out and between the legs with no shoes on). Then again, that was 5 years ago. The NBA has made a mockery of this event, what with the Blake Griffin controversy in 2011, and now allowing fan voting to completely decide the winner. Fans are allowed to vote even before they see a dunk, so popularity and hype are the only things that really matter. James White is a deserving favorite, as his dunks can be very exciting and the fact that he's a Knick plays into the popularity contest aspect of it.

One thing to note is that with the NBA pushing its East-West challenge thing, one player from each conference will be in the "finals" to determine the winner. So even though I think Gerald Green is talented and a good value at +375, I think picking someone from the West will be a worthwhile play because it's likely to be an easier trip into the finals. In that regard, I think +800 is incredible value for Jeremy Evans, who is in fact the defending champion.

Pick: James White
Dark Horse: Jeremy Evans

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