NBA predictions: All-Star Weekend picks, odds

The NBA seems to tweak the format of its All-Star weekend every year to bring more excitement to the league’s midseason showcase. The change this year might be the most drastic yet: Both rosters will be decided just moments before tip-off Sunday night in Salt Lake City.

Obviously, that makes it tough to handicap ahead of time, though we’ve still got an early lean on the All-Star Game as well as the major events headlining the weekend. Here are our favorite bets for each market (odds by BetMGM):

Team LeBron (-150) vs. Team Giannis (+125)

Obviously, it’s a bit bizarre to bet the game without even knowing who will be playing on which team. If you’re opting out of this wager for that reason alone, I wouldn’t blame you. But I also wouldn’t mind paying the price here for Team LeBron, sight unseen.

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LeBron James’ side has won five straight All-Star Games by a combined 42 points after a 3-point win over Team Durant last year in James’ return to Cleveland. Before the All-Star Game switched to a captains’ format in 2018, the Western Conference — which will likely comprise most of Team LeBron — had won the previous three games by a combined 38 points.

Clearly, there’s some elite talent out west for James to choose from, and Giannis Antetokounmpo’s recent hand injury won’t help his side’s chances. It may feel silly to lay the price, but I’m backing Team LeBron on principle here, and I also expect the game to finish under the total (323.5) after two straight years below that number.

Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo
Getty Images

All-Star Game MVP

There are a few interesting names to choose from here, especially without knowing which side these guys will be playing on.

The 2022 winner, Stephen Curry, was born near the host city of Cleveland. That has me immediately drawn to Blazers star Damian Lillard (+750), who went to college at nearby Weber State and has played some of the best games of his career against the Jazz.

I’ve also got my eyes on Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (14/1), who will be returning to Salt Lake City after spending the last five seasons with the Jazz. And what about current Jazz forward Lauri Markannen (30/1), who will be a starter in his first-ever All-Star performance?

The best value on the board might be distant long shot Domantas Sabonis (100/1), who has something to prove after he nearly was snubbed amid a special season in Sacramento. Alas, my lean here is Mitchell, who should play enough as a starter to put on a show for his former fan faithful.

Betting on the NBA?

All-Star Saturday Night

There aren’t many strong leans in these three contests, which are full of more also-rans than All-Stars. But there are a few values worth taking a shot on.

The skills challenge is the biggest crapshoot of them all, so it’s no surprise that most sportsbooks aren’t even offering odds for that event. The long-shot Team Antetokounmpo is a virtual non-bet after Giannis’ recent injury, so I’ll take my chances on Team Jazz, which will have the crowd on its side and a skilled three-man roster, to boot.

In the 3-point contest, I get why Damian Lillard (+400) owns such a short price, but the seven-time All-Star has already lost this contest twice. Instead, I’m backing long shot Tyler Herro (+550, but available as high as +800), who is one of the best pure shooters in this contest and seems determined to win it in his first All-Star experience.

There aren’t many books offering odds for the dunk contest, which felt more exciting before Trail Blazers rookie Shaedon Sharpe dropped out earlier this month. If yours is taking bets on this event, keep an eye out for Trey Murphy, who is probably the best actual NBA player of this bunch and shouldn’t be overwhelmed by the big stage. His 6-foot-8 frame also makes him an ideal fit to win a contest that has rewarded both power and dexterity in recent years.

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