Our Staff’s Favorite Bets for the 2019 NBA Dunk Contest

Our Staff’s Favorite Bets for the 2019 NBA Dunk Contest article feature image
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Photo credit: USAToday Sports. Pictured: John Collins, Dennis Smith Jr. and Miles Bridges

  • Dennis Smith Jr. (+150 odds) is the betting favorite for the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend Dunk Contest (Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on TNT), followed by John Collins (+250), Miles Bridges (+250) and Hamidou Diallo (+300).
  • Our NBA experts offer their favorite bets for the event.

The most anticipated event of the All-Star Weekend, the Dunk Contest features John Collins, Dennis Smith Jr., Miles Bridges and Hamidou Diallo.

Will DSJ get revenge from last year? Can a big man like Collins win? Can Miles put on a show at home? Will Diallo surprise everyone?

So many questions. Our experts are here to give their answers.

All odds as of 1 a.m. ET on Saturday.

Matt LaMarca: Miles Bridges (+250)

This bet comes down to Bridges and Dennis Smith in my opinion. Big men don’t typically do well in this contest, which takes John Collins off the table, and I don’t see anyone outside of OKC actually voting for Hamidou Diallo.

Smith deserves to be the favorite given his ridiculous hops, but I’ll roll the dice with Bridges at better odds. He’s thrown down some absolute hammers this season…

That’s good enough for me.


John Ewing: Miles Bridges (+250)

The first rule when wagering on the Dunk Contest is to not bet the favorite. According to SportsOddsHistory, in the past nine Dunk Contests, the favorite has won it just three times. So cross off Dennis Smith Jr. at +150.

I’m also going to eliminate John Collins (+250), because the 6-foot-10 power forward is the tallest participant this year, and, as LaMarca mentioned, big guys usually struggle to impress the judges.

That leaves Miles Bridges at +250 and Hamidou Diallo at +300. Bridges will be dunking in front of hometown fans, which could impact the judges’ scores. In a random event, I’ll take an underdog with home-court advantage.


Evan Abrams: Dennis Smith Jr. (+150)

Dennis Smith participated in the Dunk Contest last year. He received a 39 on his first dunk, which he thought was very unfair, and I actually agree given the difficulty. On his second dunk, Smith received a perfect 50 score on a 360 windmill.

Smith showed he has the skill to win this thing, and nerves won’t be an issue. The one thing he left out of last year’s contest, which could bring him over the top, is props.

Additionally, All-Star Weekend is in Charlotte this year. Granted, there is a home-court advantage for Bridges, but Smith is from just down the road in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Shorter dunkers typically have more success; Blake Griffin in 2011 was a real outlier. Smith measures 6-foot-3.


Ken Barkley: Miles Bridges (+250)

This is my least favorite event to bet on every year, but it never fails that Saturday night rolls around and after a few beverages I talk myself into some absurd narrative. Then the judging infuriates me and I get really mad and start doing numbers for Sunday college hoops.

Ah, the circle of gambling life.

Anyway, Bridges has been the player who most frequently impressed me with his athleticism and dunking in regular-season games as opposed to in contests.

If he just lined up defenders for his first- and second-round dunks, told them to try to block him, and posterized them mercilessly, he might have better luck than using ridiculous props.

I have no idea what his creativity is like, but in another event that’s a crapshoot, why ever pick the favorite unless it’s Blake Griffin and the contest is going to be rigged on his behalf? There’s no Kia deal here for anyone. I’ll take Bridges.


Matt Moore: John Collins (+150)

I’m just fading the consensus here. I love Bridges, but my colleagues decided to be jerkfaces and snatch the best odds out from under me. But I’ve also got good reason to go with Collins here: He’s going to have the best chance at finishing oops. He’s used to them, he’s great at them and he can complete them:

That’s a big part of this: Can you actually finish the dunks? You can have a great idea, but if you don’t land it, the judges ruin you. You have to stick ‘em clean. Collins has the best chance at that.


Bryan Mears: Miles Bridges (+250)

I’ll admit, I’m writing this after watching John Collins throw down some absolutely absurd dunks in the pre-game warmups for the Rising Stars game. And like Matt said, he’s very steady. He may be the best bet to have the fewest missed dunks.

But I can’t get this out of my head:

This is a battle of my head and my heart. I’ll go Miles because of the superior odds.