2018 NBA All-Star Game Predictions
NBA All-Star Weekend Predictions
Saturday, February 17th - 8 PM EST
All-Star Skills Challenge
The NBA All Star skills challenge has changed formats over the year, but the biggest evolution of this contest revolves around the type of player competing in this event. For a decade, the only non-guard to take part in the skills portion of the all-star weekend was LeBron James, who was at the beginning of his rise as a point forward. Point guards dominated the results until the recent shift in strategy, which revolves around power forwards and centers possessing small ball skills.
Giannis broke the size barrier as the tallest to compete in 2014. A couple of years later, Karl-Anthony Towns became the first big man winner of the contest, followed by Kristaps Porzingis last season. Expect another big man to make the grade in 2018. Joel Embiid (+500) and Lauri Markkanen (+500) will be the best bets on Saturday, with Joel slightly favored over the talented Finnish rookie. Choose Lauri for a better payout.
Klay Thompson’s the obvious favorite to win the three-point competition, based on his ability to go incandescent from beyond the arc, including a 37-point quarter and a 60-point game in 29 minutes. The three-point contest is a different from the intensity of game time scenarios, which makes it more difficult for him to repeat his incredible shooting records.
Expect a lesser known shooter to win the event this time around. Bradley Beal has been shooting the lights out without John Wall, relying on his athleticism and sweet jumper to create scoring opportunities. Kyle Lowry’s an underrated three-point threat, averaging above 40% from the perimeter on a high volume of shots over the past two years. Beal (+600) has a great chance of upsetting Thompson, while Lowry (+1400) is a terrific competitor who will pay off big if he wins.
Slam Dunk Competition
Victor Oladipo’s produced some of the more stunning in-game dunks over the past few years, but he’ll face a tall challenge on Saturday night because of the sheer level of athleticism represented in the contest. Larry Nance Jr. creates posters regularly, Dennis Smith Jr. owns a 48-inch vertical and rookie-of-the-year candidate Donovan Mitchell reportedly has a seven-foot wingspan.
Mitchell’s been operating under the radar for a long while, despite mixtapes of incredible Donovan dunks and a breakout season with the Utah Jazz. During the rookie all-star competition on Friday, Mitchell (+200) stole the ball at the perimeter, threw the ball off the backboard before dunking it with authority. This amazing in-game dunk was a preview of the confident style which makes him the top first-year player in the NBA.
Sunday, February 18th – 8 PM EST
67th NBA All-Star Game
Team LeBron vs Team Stephen
Point Spread – Team LeBron -2.5
Over/Under – Under 339.0
MVP - Giannis Antetokounmpo (+600)
With all due respect to Steph Curry and his mates, the starting five of LeBron’s team includes Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis, with a replacement for DeMarcus Cousins to be named later. Irving’s impossible to stop off the dribble, while no one can possibly stop James, Durant and Davis. Embiid and Antetokounmpo don’t have the same range or refinement as Durant and Davis, while Curry, Harden and DeRozan don’t have the size to pick apart team LeBron.
Team Stephen will be forced to the perimeter more often, while team LeBron will send out two-time all-star MVP Russell Westbrook as an unstoppable big man. Curry’s bench is deep, including Towns, Butler Green, Lillard and Thompson, but LeBron’s reserves include George, Beal, Aldridge and Drummond, who should be able to compete with Team Stephen’s rotation. Just don’t expect the game to be as high scoring as recent affairs, going under an insanely high total of 339 points.
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