Saturday, February 13, to Monday, February 15, 2016, Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Canada, watch on ESPN
IT’S become a little novel, but the NBA All Star weekend is still the only place you’ll find the best basketball players on the planet squaring off against each other.
Starting from Saturday, the events before the All Star game itself feature the Slam Dunk Contest, Skills Challenge and the Three point Contest.
That all precedes the big game on Monday, where the fan favourites and the coaches’ picks from the east and west go head-to-head with each other in an exhibition game that only becomes serious when the whips are cracking in the last quarter.
We’ve used the odds from our friends over at sportsbet.com.au, who posted the markets well before any other bookies had the chance.
NBA All Star Game
Starters: Lebron James, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Kyle Lowry
Reserves: Jimmy Butler (injured), DeMar DeRozan, Paul Millsap, Andre Drummond, Chris Bosh, John Wall, Isaiah Thomas, Pau Gasol (replaces Butler)
Starters: Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook
Reserves: Draymond Green, James Harden, Chris Paul, Klay Thompson, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, LaMarcus Aldridge
Odds: West ($1.53) vs. East ($2.57)
Our tips: West All Stars win ($1.53), West -4.5 ($1.91)
This is about as exciting as it can get. What a star studded line up. Kobe Bryant in his last season tops the all star voting yet again, the best player on the planet Stephen Curry lines up alongside the laser beam shooting of Kevin Durant and his beastly team mate Russell Westbrook, while the King Lebron James and the versatile star Paul George await them. The west are the hot favourites, and rightly so, but none of these players are mugs and each is capable of going off in their own right. We’re predicting a typically very high scoring match, with the West just outlasting the East when the whips begin to crack.
NBA All Star Game Most Valuable Player
Our tip: Kobe Bryant ($7)
What could be more fitting? One of the NBA’s all time greats bowing out of his last all star game by holding the MVP trophy aloft. If the collective team wants it to happen, it will happen. We hope they just give him the rock and get out of the way, giving us yet another memory of the Black Mamba.
NBA All Star Game MVP market:
Stephen Curry ($4.80)
Kevin Durant ($6)
Russell Westbrook ($6.50)
LeBron James ($6.75)
Kobe Bryant ($7)
James Harden ($11.50)
Paul George ($13.50)
Klay Thompson ($13.50)
Carmelo Anthony ($21)
Kyle Lowry ($24)
DeMarcus Cousins ($24)
Anthony Davis ($24)
Kawhi Leonard ($24)
Draymond Green ($31)
John Wall ($33)
Chris Paul ($61)
Dwyane Wade ($61)
DeMar DeRozan ($64)
Isaiah Thomas ($64)
Pau Gasol ($64)
Andre Drummond ($64)
LaMarcus Aldridge ($77)
Chris Bosh ($101)
Paul Millsap ($101)
Slam Dunk Contest predictions
Our tip: Aaron Gordon ($6)
BOOOOO-RING. OK, that’s a bit harsh. These guys might not be household names in Australia, but what the lack in star turn, they more than make up for it in athleticism. Aaron Gordon might be a relative unknown to the typical mug NBA man, but the Orlando Magic big man is beginning to break out and possesses remarkable athleticism and the ability to throw down some seriously nasty stuff. He is long and lean and combines a bit of majesty with brute force. Lavine is an obvious favourite, given his monstrous performance at last year’s event, but we’re banking on the new blood to show him up and hoping for a bit of voter fatigue and perhaps a lack of further creativity to improve on last year.
Slam Dunk Contest winner market
Zach LaVine ($1.30)
Will Barton ($5.50)
Aaron Gordon ($6)
Andre Drummond ($12)
Three Point Contest predictions
Our tip: Stephen Curry ($2.20)
If the three point contest was from half court, Chris Bosh would probably be the equal favourite with the greatest shooter of all time Stephen Curry. But it’s not. And this contest is the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player’s to lose. What Curry has done over the past couple of seasons is nothing short of absurd. He has transformed the way the game has been played and it’s all because of the fact that making a three pointer is just as simple as making a lay up to him. There are supreme shooters in this competition, including his fellow Golden State Warriors Super Splash Brother Klay Thompson and the sweet stroke of JJ Redick, but none of these men are in the class of Curry. Watch him light it up. He might not miss.
Stephen Curry ($2.20)
JJ Redick ($5)
Klay Thompson ($5.25)
Kyle Lowry ($9)
Devin Booker ($11)
James Harden ($13)
Khris Middleton ($13.50)
Chris Bosh ($13.50)
Skills Challenge predictions
Our tip: CJ McCollum ($5.50)
There seems to be an over abundance of big guys in this one. The skills challenge is the domain of the small men and we can’t understand why there are three centres and a power forward. First time all star Isaiah Thomas has been a revelation for the Boston Celtics this season and he is a deserved favourite, but our money is on sophomore star CJ McCollum. The Portland Trailblazer has some serious skills and that’s what this little competition is all about. One thing we don’t get is star Minnesota Timberwolves rookie being left as the rank outsider in this one. For ours, while he is only a young buck, he looks far more silky than the likes of Cousins, Davis and Green. We reckon the $10 is worth a speculative flutter, given some of the plays he has made in the open court this season.
Skills Challenge winner market
Isaiah Thomas ($4)
Patrick Beverley ($5)
CJ McCollum ($5.50)
Jordan Clarkson ($5.50)
Draymond Green ($6.75)
DeMarcus Cousins ($9.50)
Anthony Davis ($9.50)
Karl-Anthony Towns ($10)
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