- NBA All-Star Saturday Night goes down this weekend (February 19th) at 8pm ET
- The All-Star Skills Challenge has a new format, featuring three teams of three players
- See below for a breakdown of the event, plus odds, analysis and a betting prediction.
The NBA All-Star Skills Challenge is getting a makeover. Gone is the Guards versus Bigs format, and in its place will be three teams of three players participating in a four round competition that tests shooting, passing and ball handling.
The three teams will each participate in the first three rounds, and the two teams that accumulate the most points will advance to the final round.
The event will be part of NBA All-Star Saturday Night (Feb. 19) in Cleveland, and the hometown Cavaliers will be well represented.
2022 NBA Skills Challenge Odds
Odds as of February 18th at FanDuel Sportsbook
A trio of Cleveland stars will make up one of the three teams, but they’re far from the favorites. That honor belongs to a collection of NBA freshmen who make up Team Rookies, and they’re currently getting a ton of respect in the betting market.
NBA Skills Challenge Contestants
Raptors forward Scottie Barnes, Pistons guard Cade Cunningham, and Thunder guard Josh Giddey comprise the Team Rookies roster. It’s an exceptional combination of athleticism, but note there isn’t an elite shooter among the trio. Only Barnes is shooting better than 42% from the field, but he does the majority of his damage inside the three-point line.
Scottie Barnes throws it down!
Raptors lead by 13 in the first pic.twitter.com/18u9m1cHul
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) February 17, 2022
All three rookies are sub 33% three-point shooters. Cunningham and Giddey are both strong passers, but they’re not the best in the event. Team Rookies should have an advantage in the relay round due to their overall athleticism, but they’re no lock to take down the shooting and passing rounds.
Team Cavs is made up of another super rookie in Evan Mobley, the leader in the 2022 NBA Rookie of the Year odds. Joining him will be 2022 All-Star Darius Garland, and Jarrett Allen. Garland’s skillset is arguably the best in the field for this type of an event, as he possesses excellent speed and ball-handling, and is the best distributor and shooter in the group.
Darius Garland 🤝 Evan Mobley pic.twitter.com/p6ikyJGSNq
— NBA TV (@NBATV) February 16, 2022
Mobley is an athletic freak, but his ball-handing, passing and shooting skills are far from elite. Allen is also good athlete, but doesn’t possess elite traits to excel in this format. He’s a below average shooter and distributor, and a mediocre ball-handler.
Team Antetokounmpo features Giannis, along with brother and Bucks teammate Thanasis, as well as younger brother Alex of the G-League. None of the Antetokounmpo’s are strong shooters, and while they are all physical specimen’s, there’s a reason why they’re the biggest underdogs in this competition.
In 280 days, every Antetokounmpo brother that plays professional basketball won a championship of some sort:
Oct 11, 2020: Kostas wins NBA championship with Lakers
July 20, 2021: Giannis+Thanasis win NBA championship with Bucks
Aug 17, 2021: Alex wins Summer League with Kings
— Sam Quinn (@SamQuinnCBS) August 18, 2021
They fall well behind the other two teams in passing, shooting, and ball-handling, and there’s a very strong chance they won’t advance to the final round.
NBA Skills Challenge Picks
In a brand new competition, laying -165 on the favorites doesn’t seem like a wise decision. Even more so when they’re not a clear favorite to accumulate the most points in more than one of the three rounds. You won’t find me backing Team Antetokounmpo either, even if Giannis is a top-three contender in the 2022 NBA MVP odds.
It’s worth mentioning the format of the final round. The first finalist will have a minute and 30 seconds to make a half-court shot. All thee team members will take turns launching attempts until one of them knocks it down. The second finalist will then have a chance to beat their time, and the team who takes the least amount of time to drain a half-court bucket will be awarded the trophy.
#NBAAllStar Saturday Night plans? We got ‘em. 🤩
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) February 9, 2022
We already discussed how Garland is the best long distance shooter in the event, and Team Cavs should have no problem making the finals. Once the final round gets underway, I’d feel much more confident having a Team Cavs ticket than any other option.
- Pick: Team Cavs (+240)