Starting Friday of the this week, the NBA will take a four-day break from its regular-season schedule to stage its annual All-Star Game, which over the years as turned into an entire weekend of events. Keeping perfect step with all the action, Bovada has recently posted futures odds for most of the weekend’s events from Houston’s Toyota Center, including the most popular one: the Slam Dunk Contest. The following is a look at a few players to watch if you are looking to wager on any of the action.
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BBVA Rising Stars Challenge MVP
This event features the top first- and second-year players in the league paired off into two separate teams. One will be coached by Shaquille O’Neil and the other by Charles Barkley. Each of these NBA icons conducted a pregame draft to fill in their rosters. Team Shaq had the first pick and went with Portland’s Damian Lillard. The rookie is averaging 18.4 points a game while shooting 42.1 percent from the field and 35.3 percent from three-point range. He has also been opened as the favorite to win the game’s MVP Award at 13/2.
New Orleans’ forward Anthony Davis was Team Chuck’s first overall pick, but he is the sixth-favorite to win this award at 12/1. Team Shaq appears to have the best of it with four of the top five favorites on Bovada’s list. Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving is the second-favorite at 7/1. Charlotte’s Kemba Walker and Klay Thompson from Golden State round out the Top 5 at 9/1. Team Chuck’s only player in the Top 5 to win MVP is third-favorite Kenneth Faried from Denver at 8/1.
NBA Foot Locker Three-Point Contest
This contest pits six of the best long-range sharpshooters in the league, testing their skills from beyond the arc. At the top of the list at 5/2 to win this event are Golden State’s Stephen Curry and New York’s Steve Novak. Curry is shooting 44.7 percent from three-point range followed closely by Novak, who is hitting 44.1 percent of his attempts.
The third-favorites at 4/1 are Kyrie Irving and Ryan Anderson from New Orleans. Irving has connected on 42.7 percent of his long-range attempts this season, and Anderson is shooting 40.2 percent. Rounding out the field of six is San Antonio’s Matt Bonner at 5/1 and Indiana’s Paul George at 15/2. Bonner actually has the second-best three-point percentage in the league behind Kyle Korver at 45.1 percent. George has the lowest shooting percentage of the group at 38.8 percent.
NBA Sprint Slam Dunk Contest
The field of six has been set for this year’s competition, and, to the delight of the crowd, defending champion Jeremy Evans from Utah is back to defend his title. Bovada must not be impressed as it has opened the Knicks’ James White as the odds-on favorite to win this year’s event at 5/4. Things fall off from there with Gerald Green of the Pacers listed as the second-favorite at 7/2. The third-favorite to win this contest at 4/1 is Toronto’s Terrence Ross followed by the Clippers’ Eric Bledsoe at 5/1.
The defending champ along with Denver’s Kenneth Faried are the longshots to win at 8/1. However, there may be some serious value in those odds for Evans. You do not have to go back too far to find the last time a player won back-to-back slam dunk titles. Nate Robinson did it with the Knicks in 2009 and 2010 after winning his first title in 2006.
NBA All-Star Game MVP
The lines for the main contest have yet to be set, but we already know which players are the top favorites to claim the game’s MVP honors. At the top of the list is the West’s Kevin Durant, who comes into the break has the highest-scoring player in the NBA with an average of 29 points a game. He has been opened at 13/2 to win this award. The East’s LeBron James is a close second at 7/1, and for good reason. This past Tuesday night he set a new NBA record by recording his sixth straight game of scoring 30 points or more while shooting 60 percent or better from the field. These two superstars have a chance to warm things up on Thursday night when Miami travels to Oklahoma City for a showdown against the Thunder to officially close out the first half of the regular season.
The third-favorites to win MVP at 15/2 are a pair of starters from the West and from Los Angeles as well: Kobe Bryant from the Lakers and Blake Griffin from the Clippers. These two teams just so happen to be on the undercard of Thursday night’s two-game schedule.
The East has a pair of fourth-favorites in Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade, who also happen to be part of the starting lineup. They have been opened at 9/1 to take home the All-Star Game’s MVP trophy.
Read more articles by Dave Schwab