NBA

NBA Betting Guide: 2020 All-Star Game, 3-Point Contest, Skills Challenge, and Rising Stars

NBA All-Star weekend is upon us. How should you be betting the festivities?

Betting on exhibition games may feel a bit strange, but the NBA's version of the All-Star weekend is a bit unlike what we get in some other sports.

Sure, there are clear outs and dunks and some wild passes, but when things get close at the end of the game, things get good (more on that when we dissect the All-Star Game this year). Based on the teams that Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James picked, we can confidently say that Giannis is out to win. James has elite scorers. What will win out?

Don't forget to enter FanDuel's Props Pick'em. If you guess all five correctly, you'll share the cut of $25,000, so be sure to get in on the action.

Let's dive into the entire weekend and see what stands out (all odds from FanDuel Sportsbook).

NBA Rising Stars Challenge

Team USA is favored by 4.5 points, and the total is 298.5.

Rising Stars Challenge Spread Moneyline Over/Under
Team World +4.5 +148 298.5
Team USA -4.5 -174 298.5


Trends:
- Excluding a 121-112 win for Team World in 2015, the average point total has been 296.5. With it, the average total has been 283.8.
- Team World is 3-2 in five contests.
- After three single-digit victories to start the format, Team World won by 31 in 2018 and Team USA won by 17 last year.

Analysis:
Team USA's roster is just loaded, and this is shaping up to be a pretty lopsided affair because Team World is far from 100%.

Luka Doncic has just returned from injury and is also slated to play in the All-Star game, so it's fair to wonder how hard he'll go in this one. RJ Barrett has an effective field goal percentage of 31.9% after a three-week absence, and Rui Hachimura is getting his minutes monitored for the Washington Wizards.

For these reasons, backing Team USA whether to cover (-4.5) or straight up (-174) looks to be the right call. The under is also in play.

Taco Bell Skills Challenge

We have three former champions in the eight-player tournament format: Jayson Tatum (last year), Spencer Dinwiddie, and Patrick Beverley.

Backcourt Odds Frontcourt Odds
Spencer Dinwiddie +380 Jayson Tatum +430
Khris Middleton +430 Pascal Siakam +650
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander +430 Domantas Sabonis +900
Patrick Beverley +750 Bam Adebayo +1200


Analysis:
Since adopting the guard/forward tournament split in 2016, frontcourt players have won three of four challenges. It's not uncommon for long shots to win this, but Bam Adebayo has made only four career three-pointers, a component of this competition. Domantas Sabonis is a career 31.7% three-point shooter and is 13 of 58 this season. They'll only need to make a few to win, but their play style doesn't really fit the format.

Beverley did win this contest in the past and has the fastest average speed of any player in the field, followed by Khris Middleton and Pascal Siakam. As for transition performance, Sabonis is in the 26th percentile, and Beverley is actually in the 40th. The best performers are Middleton (71.6) and Siakam (70.7).

We can't get overly bogged down in the data, which isn't fully indicative of what to expect in this format. The best value bets look to be would be Siakam (+650), Beverley (+750), and Middleton (+430).

MTN DEW 3-Point Contest

The MTN DEW 3-Point Contest has a unique twist this year, with two added deep ball zones, which are six feet behind the arc. Makes from there are worth three points. The round time climbs from 60 seconds to 70 seconds.

Player Odds Player Odds
Joe Harris +350 Trae Young +390
Davis Bertans +460 Duncan Robinson +460
Devin Booker +500 Buddy Hield +700
Devonte Graham +1200 Zach LaVine +1200


Analysis:
It can be easy to overanalyze the three-point contest, so that's what I'm going to try to do. If we adjust for the fact that 17 of 27 (63.0%) three-point attempts are from above the break, we don't see a huge shift in weighted three-point percentage per player.

Player Raw 3Pt FG% Adj. 3Pt FG% Differential % of 3s From
Above Break
Duncan Robinson 43.8% 43.6% -0.2% 75.2%
Davis Bertans 42.4% 42.3% -0.1% 92.4%
Joe Harris 40.8% 39.9% -0.8% 81.6%
Buddy Hield 38.5% 38.1% -0.4% 81.2%
Zach LaVine 38.5% 37.5% -1.0% 82.1%
Devonte' Graham 37.5% 37.5% 0.0% 93.7%
Trae Young 36.9% 36.4% -0.5% 96.2%
Devin Booker 35.9% 36.1% 0.2% 90.0%


Percentage-wise, Duncan Robinson leads the field in three-point field goal percentage, which stands even when adjusting for the fact that he has by far the lowest frequency of above-the-break threes in the field. He leads in above-the-break percentage at 43.3%. Only Davis Bertans (42.1%) is also above 37.5% (Joe Harris). Bertans, though, hits at a high rate from above the break and has attempted 92.4% of his threes from there.

Harris has hit 53.6% of his wide-open threes this year, besting everyone in the field (Bertans is second at 46.8%). Robinson has had 75.2% of his threes come on catch-and-shoot opportunities; Bertans (63.3%) is the only other player above 41.0% (Harris). Of note, just 7.9% of Trae Young's threes have come on such plays. That's not to suggest that Young will struggle (he's hit 47.6% of his catch-and-shoot threes), but it's a strength for Robinson and Bertans.

It's easy to love the favorites (Harris and Young), but based on everything -- shot profiles, efficiency, volume, and betting value to be had -- my betting card will start with Buddy Hield (+700), Bertans (+460), and a long shot bet on Devonte' Graham (+1200).

All-Star Game

Team LeBron is a healthy 5.0-point favorite in this one.

Rising Stars Challenge Spread Moneyline Over/Under
Team Giannis +5.0 +160 300.5
Team LeBron -5.0 -190 300.5


Trends and Game Notes:
- This is almost an East/West game based on the rosters.
- The West had won three straight All-Star games before swapping to the team captain format.
- LeBron's teams are 2-0 after beating Stephen Curry 148-145 in 2018 and Giannis 178-164 last year.
- There is a massively different twist to this year's game: every quarter will be played for charity and will start 0-0.
- The fourth quarter will be untimed and played to a set target score with 24 additional points added to the leading team's third-quarter score.
- The past five All-Star games have averaged 339.8 total points.
- Per-quarter, the game has averaged 42.5 points in this span.
- Using that, the game would be roughly 127.5 apiece through three quarters with an additional 24 points set for the fourth quarter to honor Kobe Bryant.
- In that scenario, the winning score would be 151.5, for a total of around 303 combined (but a max of 302 because there can't be a tie).
- Based on the new change to the quarters, we could see less free-flowing offense early on and longer possessions toward the end of each charity-based quarter.

Team Giannis surely sets up as a team that will play tough, but LeBron's squads are 2-0 in this draft format, and there's the unquantifiable impact of playing this one for Kobe. My action is on Team LeBron (-190) and the under.