The NBA All-Star weekend does their skills competitions the right way. They keep them consistent year to year and bring in guys who actually want to compete rather than forcing players to perform one or two skills. This keeps the competitions entertaining and competitive, and allows you to compare results from year to year.
This year the All-Star Saturday Night will feature the skills challenge, 3-point contest and slam dunk contest. I will give my pick for the winner of each event below using the odds found at SportsInteraction.com.
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Taco Bell Skills Challenge
The skills challenge is a relay race involving some dribbling, a pass, a layup, and a 3-point shot. It typically comes down to the 3-pointer with the faster player possibly getting up an extra shot. Basically it comes down to clutch shooting and a lot of luck.
I’m looking at Pascal Siakim at 5/1. He’s a tall guy with deceptive speed, who can also hit the 3-pointer. I think he bursts onto the scene and wins this in his first All-Star game.
Play: Siakim 6.00
Devin Booker is set to replace Damian Lillard in both the All-Star Game and 3-Point Contest, and he immediately joins the favourites at odds of 4.50 with Trae Young and Zach LaVine. Booker won 2 years ago and definitely knows how to find the rhythm you need to win this contest so he’s my preference among the favourites.
That said, I think this is the type of even where you just have to get hot at the right time and everyone in the event has the ability to win. Joe Harris won last year by beating Buddy Hield in the finals, so either of those plays would be great and payout more than Booker.
Duncan Robinson is the favourite at some other betting sites and you can get him here at 6/1, so that’s my favourite play at SIA.
Slam Dunk Contest
I like Aaron Gordon as the favorite this year. His battle with Zach LaVine in 2016 was the best contest I’ve ever seen, and I personally would have given him the nod. I think the judges were biased towards LaVine as the defending champ.
Yes, Gordon went back the next year and didn’t bring his best stuff, but I think the two year break from the Slam Dunk contest will have allowed Gordon to come up with some great new dunks and I think he’s back to get that win as unfinished business.
Play: Gordon 2.25