Last Updated Feb 18, 2023, 8:35 PM

NBA All-Star Skills Challenge, Three Point Contest, and Slam Dunk Contest Picks and Predictions

The NBA All-Star Game Draft is set to occur roughly 30 minutes before the actual contest, which makes it incredibly difficult to gather any hardcore analysis without a healthy amount of sheer speculation. But on the bright side, the later timing of the ASG Draft has actually led to bettors flocking to some of the smaller markets ahead of this weekend’s festivities. So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at Saturday’s trio of annual preliminary events.

NBA All-Star Saturday Picks

  • Team Jazz - To Win the Skills Challenge (-120)
  • Lauri Markkanen (Jazz) - To Win the Three Point Contest (+700)
  • Jericho Sims (Knicks) - To Win the Slam Dunk Contest (+275)

NBA All-Star Saturday Betting Resources

  • Date: Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023
  • TV: TNT
  • Venue: Vivint Arena
  • Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

Kia Skills Challenge Prediction

Best Bet: Team Jazz (-120)

The NBA All-Star Skills Challenge is a three-stage event that primarily measures three main attributes of the sport: dribbling, passing, and shooting. No disrespect to the Antetokounmpo brothers, all three are very good basketball players, but this event is pretty much built around the three aspects of their game that they struggle at the most. They might as well just make the tiebreaker free-throw shooting.

Certainly, anything is possible in All-Star Weekend competitions, but if Team Antetokounmpo takes it home, it almost has to come by way of a total fluke. So, as a bettor, I’d simply scratch them off the list, and pick your poison between Team Jazz and Team Rookies.

Most of the time, the result of this event boils down to whichever trio hits the most shots and moving targets in the shooting and passing segments of the competition. All things considered, Team Jazz appears to have the slight edge in the shooting department, plus, they’ll have the crowd in Salt Lake City on their side. So, Team Jazz is probably your best bet in the first competition of the night.

Kia Skills Challenge Betting Odds

  • Team Jazz (-120)
  • Team Rookies (+140)
  • Team Antetokounmpo (+475)
Team Cavs won last year's NBA Skills Challenge in Cleveland. (Getty)

Starry Three Point Contest Prediction

Best Bet: Lauri Markkanen (+700)

Out of all the events on All-Star Weekend, the Three Point Contest is usually the one capable of being handicapped with the highest level of confidence, which is a slippery slope, because three-point shooting, alone, is an aspect of the game in which players tend to display a wide range of variability.

Nothing is totally off the table, even a big man winning the event, highlighted by Karl Anthony-Towns winning last year’s Three Point Contest, despite entering as the deepest longshot on the board. As a bettor, all you can do is, simply pick whichever shooter appears to have the most upside, and keep your fingers crossed once shots start to fly.

It seems rather obvious, going back to the hometown kids yet again in competition No. 2. However, at most shops, Lauri Markkanen is listed with the sixth-best odds on the board, somewhere around the +750 mark, and in my opinion, that’s a little bit disrespectful for a guy playing in  the comfort of his home arena, who puts up roughly 7.5 three-point attempts per game at a 41% clip.

Regardless of how you slice it, All-Star Weekend events are always a crapshoot. So, tread with caution. But for those of you searching for a lean in this year’s Three Point Contest, Markkanen is probably your best bet based on percentages and environmental factors, unless you prefer to pay the steep price tag for a repeat winner in Buddy Hield, who’s currently the betting favorite in most markets.

Starry Three Point Contest Betting Odds

  • Buddy Hield (Pacers) +350
  • Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers) +400
  • Jayson Tatum (Celtics) +550
  • Kevin Huerter (Kings) +600
  • Tyrese Haliburton (Pacers) +650
  • Lauri Markkanen (Jazz) +700
  • Tyler Herro (Heat) +750
  • Julius Randle (Knicks) +900
Timberwolves' center, Karl-Anthony Towns won the 2022 Three Point Contest. (Getty)

AT&T Slam Dunk Contest Prediction

Best Bet: Jericho Sims (+275)

The Dunk Contest is a “judged event.” So, oftentimes, certain states and bookmakers prohibit wagering on this particular competition, but due to the natural subjectivity of the event, handicapping the Dunk Contest is a guessing game in most cases anyway. If your state doesn’t allow it, you aren’t missing out on much.

In this year’s event, a pair of guards will join the judges panel, Jamal Crawford and Harold Miner, two excellent dunkers themselves. So, there seems to be a bunch of buzz surrounding the idea of one of the smaller guys taking home the crown, either Mac McClung or Kenyon Martin Jr.

McClung is already semi-famous for beating Kevin Porter Jr. in a dunk contest at the Iverson Classic back in 2018, and in the days leading up to this Saturday’s event,  he’s continued to talk some big game about a pair of never before seen dunks that he’s got in store for this one. However, in my opinion, McClung being favored seems like a bit of a smokescreen.

Jericho Sims likely boasts the most upside heading into this year’s event. He’s the biggest dude in the competition, standing 6’10” and he also posted one of the best vertical jumps in combine history at 44.5 inches. However,  Kenyon Martin Jr. still strikes me as the flashiest dunker in this stable of talent.

For me, it’s a toss-up between those two guys. Personally, I’m a fan of seeing the big man throw it down hard and shatter the backboard, stuff like that, as opposed to some of the smaller guys making relatively easy things look much harder than they actually are. So, I’ll take Sims as a personal preference play, but I don’t hate the idea of backing Kenyon Martin Jr. either.

2023 NBA Dunk Contest Betting Odds

  • Mac McClung (Delaware Blue Coats) +150
  • Jericho Sims (Knicks) +275
  • Kenyon Martin Jr. (Rockets) +350
  • Trey Murphy Jr. (Pelicans) +400
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