NBA All-Star Weekend Three-Point Contest Betting Odds and Picks
by Trevor Whenham - 2/12/2015
For my money, the three-point contest is not only the best part of NBA All-Star Weekend but the best part of any all-star festivities in any sport. It's a pure skill test, not ruined by gimmicks or silly judging. The best shooters compete, and the best of the best on that day win. Outstanding. The history of this contest, which started in 1985, is very bright. Larry Bird won the first three editions. Craig Hodges won three in a row and then tried for a fourth even though he wasn't in the NBA that year. Hornacek, Ray Allen, Stojakovic twice, Nowitzki, Pierce, Love, Irving - unlike the dunk contest, the stars have always come out for this one.
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The 2015 edition of the three-point shootout is a particularly strong one. In fact, it's epic. One of the best fields ever. Marco Belinelli is back to defend the title he won last year. Steph Curry is back for a fourth try, and Kyle Korver is back for a third. They are the two best shooters in the league in the eyes of many, yet neither has won the contest. Kyrie Irving is on the hunt for a second win. Curry's red-hot teammate, Klay Thompson, will be looking to play spoiler in what is sure to be a friendly-but-intense rivalry between Golden State teammates. Rounding out the field, James Harden, J.J. Redick, and Wesley Matthews will be each making their debut. So, where is the betting value? Let's take a look (all odds to win the contest are from Bovada):
Steph Curry (13/4): If you ask most people who the best shooter in the league is, they would say Curry. While they aren't necessarily wrong in the big picture, purely from three-point range he is barely in the Top 20. In fact, four guys in this contest are shooting at a better clip from beyond the arc than Curry. He also has been in this contest three times before without a win. I'm not knocking Curry at all here, of course - the guy is spectacular, and a win would be far from shocking. Given the field, though, it's hard to argue that he is anything other than overvalued as the solid favorite. If I had to take one player in the field, I would likely take Curry for his killer instinct, but I can't bet on him at this price.
Kyle Korver (15/4): Korver is a freak. He has attempted 303 three pointers (Matthews leads with 397, and Curry has 394) and leads the way with 160 made. That's a stunning 52.8 percent clip - seven percentage points better than anyone else. Very impressive. I still don't love the price, but given that Korver is also experienced in the contest it wouldn't be impossible to believe that he offers more value that the favorite does.
Klay Thompson (4/1): Thompson is actually outshooting his teammate from beyond the arc this year - 44.1 percent compared to 40.4 for Curry. He's also less than a month removed from that record-setting game in which he had nine three-pointers. In a quarter! He's confident, and he'll be fired up. I'm a little concerned that this is his first appearance in the contest, but he presents some decent value.
Kyrie Irving (6/1): Irving has won it before, though that win in 2013 certainly qualifies as a bit of a surprise. He's a Top 15 three-point shooter this year, albeit with quite a bit less volume than many. I wouldn't bet on him at this price.
J.J. Redick (6/1): The biggest surprise here is that Redick has never before been in the contest. He's having the best year of his career from beyond the arc and has the eighth-best percentage in the league. He has been banged up lately, though - back spasms - so his effectiveness in the contest, and his willingness to push his limits, are real questions. No value.
Wesley Matthews (7/1): Matthews has a very sound strategy in this contest according to a recent interview - he plans to make as many shots as possible. Hard to argue with that. Still not going to bet on him, though. He's a contest rookie shooting less than 40 percent from three-point range. No betting interest from me.
Marco Belinelli (7/1): Belinelli showed us last year how tough it is to handicap this contest - and how important it is to get hot at the right time. His 24 points in the final round was the second most in history. Last year he had the best three-point shooting year of his career, but he has fallen off noticeably this year. Lightning could strike twice - six different guys have won at least two in a row - but Belinelli isn't enough of an assassin to trust him. Even at this price.
James Harden (8/1): I'm not sure why Harden is in this field. Don't get me wrong - he's decent from deep. He is shooting 39 percent, which is the best of his career, and is taking the most deep shots of his career as well. He's just not at the level of some of the better shooters, and surely he doesn't feel like he has anything to prove in the league at this point. A win would be more of an upset than the price justifies. I'd much rather see someone like Courtney Lee or Aaron Brooks in the contest.
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