NBA All-Star HORSE Competition Odds and Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 02/12/2009
Need something fun to do with your sweetheart on Valentine's Day? Don't feel like shelling out for a fancy dinner? Well, the answer is obvious - nothing says loving more than H-O-R-S-E. For the first time this year, the NBA has added a H-O-R-S-E competition, which we will refer to as the HORSE Competition on further reference to avoid repetition, as part of the NBA All-Star Game festivities. It will take place as part of the All-Star Block Party that will happen before the full festivities on Saturday night, and it will be played outside in the Phoenix desert heat. It's obviously a gimmick, but it could be one that's fun to watch.
The rules are basically the same as they are any time you play HORSE. There will be three players. The first player makes a shot of his choice. The second player then has to make the same shot. If he makes it then the third player tries the same shot. If he misses, he gets a letter. The next round begins after all three players have made the shot, or after a player misses. A player is eliminated after getting all five letters, and the last player standing is the winner. There will be an NBA referee watching the game to make sure that the shots are done exactly right.
The NBA and TNT obviously wanted some splash for this debut event, so they brought out some young superstars. Joe Johnson of the Hawks will play in the event before he plays in the All-Star Game, while sophomore megastar Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City and rookie standout O.J. Mayo of the Grizzlies will also play in the rookie challenge. All three guys have ridiculous amounts of game, so it has the potential to be very interesting if the players buy into it. Whether it's a thrill show or not, it's still worthwhile for one good reason - you can bet on it. Here's a look at the odds and some NBA All-Star HORSE Competition predictions:
Kevin Durant (3/2) - It's no surprise that Durant is the favorite of the event. He's the biggest name of the three, he's fifth in the league in scoring, and everyone still remembers his aerial heroics during his NCAA Tournament run at Texas. He also gets the most press of the three players in this group, and that's really something considering he is in the media and basketball wasteland of Oklahoma City. Beyond all of that, Durant should be very motivated here. He got robbed when he wasn't picked for the All-Star Game. He's a very driven guy, so that probably bothers him. He also is almost certainly driven to be among the very elite of the game. Winning this wouldn't put him there, obviously, but it would be another argument in his favor. The skill set, the talent and the motivation make Durant an attractive favorite.
O.J. Mayo (33/20) - Mayo is just a 21-year-old rookie, but he's been ridiculously over-hyped for what seems like half of his life. His college career, though brief, had its highs and lows. He may not have entirely lived up to his hype then, but he certainly is as a pro. He's already the clear star of a young Memphis team, and he's right near the top of the Rookie of the Year race. I was initially skeptical of Mayo, but I have quickly grown to respect him. That being said, I'm not sure that this is a good spot for him here. He's not as creative as Durant is, and he's not as seasoned as the rest of the field, either. I don't think that he had no chance of winning, but I don't see real value in him at this price.
Joe Johnson (9/5) - Johnson is the longest shot in the field, but he's far from a real longshot. He's the veteran of the field, he's an all-star, and he has been playing at a very high level for a long time. I would have been a bit concerned by the virus he suffered from that kept him out of three games recently, but he has bounced back from the setback with two very good games, so it's not a concern. Johnson definitely has the skills to get the job done here. He should also be motivated - he's not nearly as big of a star as he should be given what he has accomplished, and that has to bother him. He'll be motivated not to be shown up by these young pups. Given that, and his relatively attractive price, Johnson gets the nod from me narrowly over Durant.