GAMBLING GUIDE

All Star Weekend 2018: under the NBA Stars

All Star Weekend 2018: under the NBA Stars
It is Team Steph vs. Team Lebron on Sunday. SBNation.com

NBA all-star weekend; a display of the league’s most exceptional talent presented through various contesst. The stars of the hardwood are put in front of the world to show off the best of their abilities, and it's a weekend to relax and make some recreational bets. A time to sit back with friends and.....

Wait a minute, who are we kidding? Every year when events like this come around, gamblers print tickets at a frantic pace in the hope of guessing who are going to be this year's champions. The odds on some of the contestants are very attractive, and the fact that this is an all stat competition leads us to believe it truly is anyone's game to win. Let's get into some of the numbers and see where we can get the best value.

3-point contest

Klay Thompson +220
Eric Gordon (+425)
Wayne Ellington (+600)
Devin Booker (+600)
Paul George (+625)
Bradley Beal (+770)
Kyle Lowry (+1000)
Tobias Harris (+1100)

The 2016 Champion Klay Thompson headlines this year's contest. He leads the field as the favorite and pays +220 ($100 pays $220). The defending champion and Houston favorite Eric Gordon is the second favorite (+425), followed by Ellington, Booker, George and Beal in the middle tier. Rounding out the group and paying the most are Lowry and Harris. A $100 wager on former Houston guard Kyle Lowry would pay you $1000!!!

Most points in a round:  Klay Thompson is tied for the record (Stephen Curry) scoring 27 out of 34 total points in his 2016 final round.

Throwback: In 1986, the NBA added the 3-point contest and former NBA all-star game MVP Larry Bird was the favorite.

The Boston legend walked into the locker room before the shootout and asked. "Which one of you guys is going to finish second?"  He would go on to raise the first 3-point trophy beating out Craig Hodges. That year Hodges scored 25 points in the first round, a record that wouldn't be broken until 2016.

Players with multiple wins:
Craig Hodges 1st-3 times 2nd- 2 times
Larry Bird  1st- 3 times
Peja Stojakovic 1st- 2 times 2nd- 2 times
Jeff Hornacek   1st- 2 times
Mark Price 1st- 2 times
Jason Kapono 1st- 2 times

Dunk contest

Dennis Smith Jr.   +165
Donovan Mitchell  +225       
Larry Nance, Jr.   +275
Victor Oladipo   +460

In a chance to defy physics, the high flyers of the league take the main stage to cap the night off. This year’s event features two rookies in Dennis Smith Jr. and Donovan Mitchell. The favorite, Smith, is a 6'2 point guard out of North Carolina State that jumps out of the arena everytime he leaves his feet. The other rookie Mitchell is filling in for the injured Aaron Gordon. Utah's newcomer is said to be leading the rookie of the year race so look for the 21-year-old to make noise on Saturday with his Thunderous dunks. The son of a former champion in this competition, Larry Nance Jr., attempts to enact what his father did in 1984. That year his father embraced the role of the underdog beating out basketball legends Julius Erving and Dominique Wilkins. This year's largest payout lies with underdog Victor Oladipo. A $100 wager on Indiana's All-star will pay you $460. There might be value in that number considering this isn't his first appearance in the contest. In 2015, Oladipo lost to Zach LaVine in the championship round.

Throwback: Nate Robinson is the only 3-time winner of this event, but not without controversy. In his first title, many fans feel he has gifted the trophy. He edged out Andre Iguodala by one point but needed 14 attempts to complete one of his dunks. That year featured the first-ever tiebreaker as both scored 94 points in the final round. Needless to say, the rule was changed in 2007 allowing contestants only 2 minutes to complete their dunks and solely two chances outside of that time frame.  His 14 attempts on a dunk with no penalty left 76'er fans with a foul taste for the contest.

2018 NBA All-Star game

Team LeBron -3.5 -120
Team Steph +3.5 -120

OVER 346 -120
UNDER 346 -120

The last two years games have seen totals of 374 and 369. Before that, no game had ever crossed this year’s 346 total. Even in 2003 when the game went into double overtime, the final score was 155-145.

There might be value in going with the under for the game as the new draft format might give players extra motivation on defense. I don't advise betting under on an All-Star game and watching; could take years off your life.

Any questions or comments reach me at @JerryboKnowz on twitter.

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Have the Astros turned the corner? Photo by Jack Gorman/Getty Images.

One presumes the Chicken Littles have stopped clucking about the Astros’ season being a goner, or if not gone, on life support. It wasn’t when they were 7-19. It wasn’t when they were 12-24. It certainly isn’t now that they’ve won six straight games and eight of their last nine. Another three or four weeks of inept play could have doomed them, but the worm has turned. A 20-25 record is no cause for celebration, but it has the Astros within four games of first place. Yes, getting to play the A’s four times this week helped. And?

I detailed the schedule issue on our Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast this week. The Astros were flat lousy for the season’s first six weeks. But… Starting the week the Astros had played a whopping 32 of their 40 games against teams with a winning record as of Monday. The Seattle Mariners had played 23 such games, the Texas Rangers only 16. The Philadelphia Phillies have been sensational so far and are fully legit. But… The Phillies entered the weekend having played three games vs. teams now sporting a winning record. Three! Out of 45 games. Going into this weekend's series only the Blue Jays, White Sox, and Angels had played more games against winning teams than had the Astros. It’s not mere coincidence that the Blue Jays, White Sox, and Angels are the three last place teams in the American League. The Astros were not up to the challenge of their first quarter schedule, but by no means did it render them dead, particularly in the thus far Mild, Mild, American League West.

A good Brewers team visits Minute Maid Park for three games this weekend. The Astros beat their best starter Friday night. Next the Astros get the pathetic Angels here for three before a three-game series at Oakland. Meanwhile the West leading Mariners start a ten-game road trip this weekend: three at the excellent Orioles, four at the excellent Yankees, three at the respectable Nationals. The Astros stand a good chance of overtaking the M’s by the end of this month if they can win the four-game series they open Memorial Day in Seattle.

Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers snapped a five game losing streak Wednesday to eke back over .500 at 23-22. The reigning World Series champs hope to get somewhat well vs. the Angels in Arlington this weekend but dropped the series opener to drop back to .500. For their sake they better because the Rangers then hit the road for Philadelphia and Minnesota.

Naturally, many Astros fans are upset with Ronel Blanco serving a 10 game suspension for illegally using whatever substance on his glove and non-pitching hand. The suspension is basically automatic. The suspension is also not a big problem. Blanco has been fantastic since getting a starting rotation spot only because of Justin Verlander’s delayed start to his season. It’s said that all life owes us is opportunity. Man, did Blanco seize his. With just seven big league starts to his name before entering this season as a 30-year old, Blanco has made eight this season with a sparkling 2.09 earned run average. So, what’s that about the suspension is not a big problem?

Blanco will miss one start and have another pushed back a day or two. That’s just not a big deal. In fact it may be helpful in the bigger picture. With last year being the first time in his professional career that Blanco topped 100 innings pitched (125 1/3), the Astros need to be wary of Blanco’s workload which is on pace to blow past last year’s career-high innings total. J.P. France probably pitched over his head for a while last year, but went well past his prior career-high innings total and faded badly. Cristian Javier was tremendous in 2022 while pitching more than in any previous year, but he pitched even more in 2023 and faded badly.

Alex Bregman lives! After being nearly inconceivably inept through the first quarter of the season, the Alex awakening in the Oakland series was not shocking but most welcomed. Over his first 37 games Bregman had a paltry seven extra base hits. Even with a feeble .201 batting average and .534 OPS, that Bregman had scored just eight runs over those 37 games was hard to believe. Then Monday and Tuesday saw five extra base hits and four runs scored.

In a trade not commanding any headlines, Dana Brown Wednesday sent outfielder Corey Julks to the White Sox for 20-year-old low minor league pitcher Luis Rodriguez. There is now no reason to call it a great Astros trade but Brown made a smart deal. Julks had no future here, hence he would have been released if no deal was struck. Taking a flyer on a young arm can’t hurt. Frankly, the White Sox are dumb to trade a young arm of any promise whatsoever for a 28-year-old outfielder with limited value. Julks was a nice story for parts of last season. The Clear Brook High School grad and UH product had a couple windows of production, highlighted by a sizzling nine game 17 for 34 stretch straddling June and July. Alas, not two weeks later Julks began what would become an 0 for 36 nightmare. He was sent to the minors for good in late-August.

*Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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