The NBA All-Star Game has its fans and its critics. Its detractors believe the lack of defense and ridiculous up and down pace make for something that looks more like a run an open gym rec league than something that resembles the league’s best players battling one another.
Those who enjoy the game see the world’s best athletes showcasing their talents while also letting some of their personalities show that doesn’t come across in the regular season.
Whatever your stance, there’s plenty for NBA betting fans to wager on once the Sunday of All-Star weekend rolls around. Some of the bets have changed because of the change in format that occurred in 2018, where the team are now drafted by the top two vote getters each season.
Gone are the days of East vs. West, but we’ve still found some trends that can help you win your wagers.
Just as the NBA MVP has gone to a would-be or soon-to-be Hall of Famer just about every year, the NBA All-Star Game MVP has followed suit. True, each All-Star Game is littered with future Hall of Famers every year, but they aren’t exactly a dime a dozen. And yet, on the biggest stage, the best of the best find a way to make an impact.
Ed Macauley won the first NBA All-Star Game MVP in 1951 after scoring a game-high 20 points in his East team’s 111-94 victory. Nine years later Macauley was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He’s certainly not alone.
From 1951 to 2012 the All-Star Game MVP was handed out 61 times (there was no All-Star Game in 1999 because of the lockout). Of those 61 winners, 57 of them eventually went on to have Hall of Fame careers (there were repeat winners, but the point stands).
The only non-Hall winners were Adrian Smith in 1966, Edward Smith in 1978, Tom Chambers in 1987 and Glen Rice in 1997. Everyone else made the Hall or is going to make the Hall. It doesn’t make sense to get cute with this pick. The big guns win MVP.
Deciding which of the big guns can prove a bit more difficult. That’s where points come into play. Just as leading the league in scoring greatly improves your chances of winning league MVP, doing so in the All-Star Game helps as well. Hey, you’re not betting on a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
From 2000 to 2016, each MVP came from the winning team and all but two of the winners led their team in scoring. LeBron James in 2008 and Chris Paul in 2013 were the exceptions, and both put up monster performances to win the award.
It also helps to host the game. There have been more than a dozen instances where an All-Star of the host city/stadium gets an extra bump – either from his teammates or from the media– in the voting process.
From 1951, when Macauley won it in Boston, to 2017 when Anthony Davis won it in New Orleans, a host player has won 14 different times. That works out to about once every five seasons, so while it’s not a surefire trend it happens on more than just a rare occasion.
It used to be easier to handicap the All-Star Game. Since many of the same All-Stars were teammates each season and the headliners of the team made the biggest impact.
Now, that’s all been jumbled up with the change in format, and the teams will look entirely different each season. That makes it a crapshoot to determine which team has the advantage.
But the easiest way is probably to look at the starting lineups. After all, they’re going to play the most minutes and attempt the most shots, and they’ll be in the game in closing time if it gets close.
Don’t worry too much about the rest of the team and, again, figure out who has a shot at winning MVP and take that route.
Players are trying again, meaning a lower All-Star Game point total
There was a dramatic shift in All-Star Game scoring in 2018, when teams were drafted and clearly took pride in winning the game. This came on the heels of a ridiculous 374 points being scored in 2017 and critics loudly voicing their displeasure with how out of control the game had become.
It seems like players are taking pride in being drafted to a specific team and have found some incentive to play the games tighter, at least in the second half after the first-half theatrics are over. That could continue leading to a shift downward in scoring.
The over had hit in six of seven years prior to the 2018 format change – that game went way under – so we could continue to see the point total shrinking in years to come.
Unlike the other competitions, the Slam Dunk Contest is judged. That means showmanship is factored almost as much as the dunks themselves.
When considering a candidate, vertical leap and creativity matter. But so does the contestant’s ability to get the crowd involved and do something never seen before.
Find a fun personality – in addition to them being able to dunk well – and remember that bigs don’t win. Dwight Howard was an exception to the rule. It’s more impressive to see smaller guys fly through the air.
It’s not easy to get off all those shots in one minute.
Yes, sharpshooters win 3-Point Contests and you should be considering players who have the best percentage and won’t crumble in the spotlight (and have the last name Curry).
But quick triggers are also important. Watch some film on shooters and see what kind of release they have. It’s tough to win, but it’s even tougher if you can’t get through all five racks.
Speed and accuracy kill in the Skills Challenge. But don’t forget that part of the competition is making a top-of-the-key 3-pointer.
Missing those shots hurts players’ times more than anything else. Players generally dribble and pass at the same speed, but that jumper can make all the difference.
When considering a bet, use the better jump shooter as a tiebreaker.
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