All-Star Saturday is now upon us, and that can mean only one thing: It is time to place wagers on which young men (and, in one event, also young women and older men) will perform most successfully in contests of skill tangentially related to the game of basketball that we love so dearly.
But which competitors do the oddsmakers believe are most likely to emerge victorious in their individual events, and which wagers would provide the greatest return on your investment? For that, we turn to the speculation facilitators at Bovada for the going gambling odds in each of All-Star Saturday's four events as of 1:35 p.m. ET on Saturday afternoon. (Odds subject to change.)
Without further ado: Let's get rich!
2014 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest Odds
Dunker of the Night:
• Paul George, Indiana Pacers: 9-5
• Terrence Ross, Toronto Raptors: 53-20
• Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings: 7-2
• John Wall, Washington Wizards: 5-1
• Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers: 6-1
• Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors: 6-1
• Eastern Conference: -205
• Western Conference: +165
The two separate sets of lines reflect the altered format of this year's Slam Dunk Contest, which we've covered a couple of times. To review: after a "freestyle round" in which everybody's dunking as much as they'd like to for 90 seconds, the second round of the competition will feature head-to-head matchups between a member of the East team (George, Ross, Wall) and the West team (McLemore, Lillard, Barnes), which judges choosing a winner for each "battle" and the first conference to win three battles being crowned the 2014 Sprite Slam Dunk champions. The oddsmakers like the East there.
Then, of course, we've got the "Dunker of the Night" voting, in which fans will get the chance to vote (via SMS, Twitter, NBA.com and the NBA GameTime app) for the player whose full body of work over the course of the evening merits recognition as the contest's top performer. Bovada has George going off at a bit less than a 2-1 favorite, which stands to reason, considering he's by far the most popular competitor in the event — remember, he was one of only four players to receive more than 1 million fan votes for Sunday's All-Star Game, joining LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry. Ross receives a fair amount of respect, slotting in at a little better than 3-1 as the contest's defending champion; noted polymath Lillard and ostensible afterthought Barnes get significantly less respect, trailing the pack at 6-1.
2014 Foot Locker Three-Point Contest Odds
• Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors: 9-5
• Arron Afflalo, Orlando Magic: 11-2
• Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves: 11-2
• Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers: 11-2
• Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards: 11-2
• Damian Lillard: 6-1
• Marco Belinelli, San Antonio Spurs: 15-2
• Joe Johnson, Brooklyn Nets: 12-1
You can certainly understand why Curry gets top billing here; he does own the all-time record for 3-pointers made in a season, he's leading the league in both makes and attempts this season, and he's got the highest 3-point shooting percentage of any active player (43.9 percent). Then again, he's 0 for 2 in this competition and still comes in just under 2-1, while the last two winners of the event (Love in 2012, Irving in 2013) are comparative longshots at 5 1/2-1, which seems a little weird. Belinelli, the league's fifth-leading 3-point shooter at 44.8 percent at the break, represents a pretty tasty long-odds opportunity at 7 1/2-1.
2014 Taco Bell Skills Challenge Odds
• Damian Lillard and Trey Burke of the Utah Jazz: +160
• Goran Dragic of the Phoenix Suns and Reggie Jackson of the Oklahoma City Thunder: +185
• DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks: +325
• Michael Carter-Williams of the Philadelphia 76ers and Victor Oladipo of the Orlando Magic: +325
• Eastern Conference: +115
• Western Conference: -145
Lillard's the defending champ and Burke is fast, which makes their pairing a fine choice as the favorite in the timed obstacle course competition, which has been changed from an individual competition into a conference vs. conference team event that operates like a relay race, with the second player from a team unable to start until the first one finishes. It would not surprise me if Dragic, considered by many to be one of the most unfortunate cuts (or, if you prefer, "snubs") in this year's All-Star voting and selection, actually kind of wants to win. Betting on the longshot rookie duo of MCW and Oladipo might be fun.
2014 Sears Shooting Stars Odds
• Team Curry (Stephen Curry, Dell Curry, Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Stars): +180
• Team Durant (Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Karl Malone, Skylar Diggins of the Tulsa Shock): +230
• Team Hardaway Jr. (Tim Hardaway Jr. of the New York Knicks, Tim Hardaway Sr., Elena Delle Donne of the Chicago Sky) : +240
• Team Bosh (Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat, Dominique Wilkins, Swin Cash of the Chicago Sky): +295
First of all: MASSIVE AND BLATANT DISRESPECT for defending champion Team Bosh. An unthinkable slight by the oddsmakers, who very well might be deliberately trying to produce a "nobody-believes-in-us" result.
Yeah, I guess they make sense as a favorite. Good luck, theoretical chance-takers!
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