Best NBA All-Star Game Value Bets: MVP, Props, Over/Under, More
All-Star weekend has been … interesting so far. The old guys have disappointed: Kyle Lowry finished with just 11 points in the 3-Point Shootout, and he was somehow better than Paul George, who hit just seven triples for nine points. PG was so terrible, he even tried to bank in a shot:
— Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) February 18, 2018
Let’s give a little love to the young guys, though: Devin Booker took home the crown with a 3-point contest record 28 in the final round, and rookie Donovan Mitchell stole the slam dunk contest with a tribute to Vince Carter. No, I’m not crying the Hornets took Frank Kaminsky and Malik Monk over Booker and Mitchell; you’re crying.
What will the ASG tonight bring? Will a young guy like Brow or Joel Embiid take home MVP? Or will the veteran crowd rally? The Action Network crew has you covered with our favorite bets in the game, ranging from the total, to some props, to the MVP and more. — Bryan Mears
Team Stephen Curry +3
John Ewing: In all exhibition games (All-Star Game, USA vs. World All-Stars, Sophomore vs. Rookies, and Summer League) since 2005, underdogs are 148-94-7 ATS (61.2%). Injuries will be a problem for Team LeBron, which will play without DeMarcus Cousins, Kristaps Porzingis, John Wall, and Kevin Love. Team Steph also features four of the league’s top-six scorers.
Matt LaMarca: I’m with John here. I don’t really see why one team of superstars deserves to be favored over the other, so I’ll take the points. The fact that they have some of the league’s best 3-point shooters — Steph, Klay Thompson, James Harden, etc. — in a game that should be dominated by 3s doesn’t hurt either.
Evan Abrams: With a completely different format to the All-Star Game this year, I am going with a theory behind why I like Team Steph. Kevin Durant ended up on Team LeBron via what we all assume was a pick near the top of the draft. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green most likely ended up on Team Steph after the fact. I’ll take Team Steph, with the original Warrior trio, to make a bit of a statement against KD, especially with fast-paced Mike D’Antoni running the show.
Over 346 Total Points
Matt Moore: Our own John Ewing had this gem earlier this week: “The over in NBA exhibition games has gone 141-102-6 (58.0%) since 2005, which includes an 8-4 mark in All-Star Games.” I’m not buying what the players are saying: “No really, we’re going to try this time.” I don’t care that they picked teams. I don’t care that they increased the money for charity. There’s just not incentive for these guys, especially in a year in which everyone is complaining about exhaustion (despite more rest days, by the way). The Warriors flat-out do not care. The Celtics are on their last legs. And there’s not a lot of new blood in this game that will make it competitive. The only real incentive is to get All-Star MVP, and that means guys chucking. I will gladly ride the over.
My one hesitation, for whatever it’s worth: I spoke to Dwane Casey at All-Star availability on Saturday, and he said he asked the players three things. Do you want to have a minutes restriction? Do you want to compete? And do you want to win? He said that he feels like they owe it to the game and the fans to actually go out and not just “roll a ball out there.” They’re not going to go 100 percent, but at anything over 320 I’m more nervous than I was on Friday.
Peter Jennings: Have to go over. There is nothing worse than sweating an under in the ASG.
First Player to Score Prop
Bryan Mears: With the lack of defense in the All-Star game, there could be a sizable edge in predicting the first player to score. Some big men are much better on jump balls than others, and whichever team controls the ball first is likely to score. As of now, we don’t know who will jump, as DeMarcus Cousins is injured and thus will not start. Team LeBron could elect to start Russell Westbrook since it already has Anthony Davis in the starting lineup, but it could also elect to swap out Boogie with a traditional center like Andre Drummond. And that’s intriguing, given Drummond’s elite jump ball ability: He’s won about 72 percent of his tips over his career, which is one of the best marks in NBA history. If Drummond jumps versus Joel Embiid (57 percent), he’ll definitely be the favorite, which would make his teammates great value plays to score first. Here are the odds currently:
Drummond’s potential floormates are Davis, Durant, Irving and LeBron. Brow went for 52 in last year’s All-Star game, and he’s the best bet for a first possession lob.
Matt Moore: Steph Curry. The Warriors don’t care, but if no one cares and everyone’s chucking, Curry is most likely to catch fire. I don’t like any of the other selections, especially with all of Team LeBron’s injuries. I’d pick Harden, but I don’t think the Warriors on his team will give him the ball enough, so I’ll go with the captain, in a statement.
One guy to fade is LeBron. Serving up an All-Star MVP after Laura Ingraham’s comments might be a pretty good clapback, but that’s never been what he’s about. He’s not a “make a statement” guy in those situations unless it’s a team that’s really given him issues.
Matt LaMarca: I’m going deep down the board with Thompson at +3300. This game should be dominated by 3-point shooting, and Klay is obviously one of the best in the business in that department. It also feels like he has more to prove than some of the other players in this game since he can occasionally be overlooked playing in Golden State.
Evan Abrams: Because I’m all in on Team Steph, I think the MVP really has three serious options (Steph, Giannis, Harden) and two wild cards (Butler, Lillard). It’s more fun to go with the wild card options. If Jimmy Butler and Damian Lillard get enough minutes, both can get hot quickly: Lillard scored 133 points in his past three games entering the break, and Butler really seems to have a chip on his shoulder this season coming from Chicago. Both are above 30-to-1 and worth a shot. For the serious candidates, I’ll roll with Giannis Antetokounmpo (pictured above). Other players in the league respect him and fans love him; if he wants it, he can win. (I just hope all the media members can spell his name right when they fill out their ballot.)
Peter Jennings: Westbrook will be the chalk, but give me Davis. I’m expecting tons of lob passes for Brow. I love him to lead the game in dunks (and the game should be 90 percent dunks and 3s).
Photo credit Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports