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Luka Doncic Favored to Win 2019 NBA Skills Challenge During All-Star Weekend

Trae Young defends fellow rookie guard Luka Doncic
Trae Young defends fellow rookie guard Luka Doncic (Photo by Austin McAfee/Icon Sportswire)
  • Bovada favors Dallas Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic to win the 2019 NBA Skills Challenge
  • Two of the last three winners of the event were foreign players
  • No Dallas player has ever won the competition

The sensational rookie season of Dallas Mavericks guard forward Luka Doncic surprisingly did not include selection to play in the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte, but Doncic will be part of NBA All-Star Weekend nonetheless. The Slovenian sensation, who has the shortest odds to win NBA Rookie of the Year honors, was one of eight players selected to participate in the NBA Skills Challenge.

Is luck going to be on Luka’s side? That’s the way Bovada sees things playing out during the event. Doncic is the betting favorite in the NBA Skills Challenge.

2019 NBA Skills Challenge Odds

Player Odds to Win 2019 NBA Skills Challenge at Bovada (02/06/19) Odds to Win 2019 NBA Skills Challenge at BetOnline (02/07/19)
Luka Doncic +300 +400
Trae Young +400 +400
Nikola Jokic +450 +500
Jayson Tatum +450 +550
Mike Conley +500 +550
De’Aron Fox +500 +400
Kyle Kuzma +600 +700
Nikola Vucevic +750 +800

No Dallas player has ever won the NBA Skills Challenge. The newest member of the Mavericks, Kristaps Porzingis, acquired January 31st from the New York Knicks, did win the competition in 2016-17 while with New York.

It Can Come Down to the Luck of the Draw

Players go head-to-head in knockout competitions leading to the final pairing, so much like a tennis tournament, who you draw can impact how far you go.

Up against the raw sexiness of the Slam Dunk contest and the silky smoothness of the Three Point competition, the Skills Challenge often plays the role of the ugly stepsister of NBA All-Star Weekend, but don’t let that impact your wagering thoughts. There’s money to be made here.

One element that makes this event so fascinating is that it encompasses players from all walks of NBA life – bigs, small forwards, point guards – you name it, you’ll see them in action.

Wagering Patterns to Be Observed

Much to President Donald Trump’s chagrin, this event has been won in two of the last three years and five times in 16 seasons by foreign players. If only they had to go over a wall as part of the course, things might be different.

Last year, Spencer Dinwiddie of the Brooklyn Nets ended a two-year run by foreign players and he was also the first backcourt player to win the event since Patrick Beverley of the Houston Rockets in 2014-15.

What’s the Key to Success?

The Skills Challenge course starts off with the basketball slalom, followed by the layup and the sprint. The next two steps – the pass to the net and the three-point shot – are usually what separate the men from the boys.

As much as we like Doncic, the bigs have come up big so frequently in this event we’re leaning that way with our pick to win the NBA Skills Challenge.

Like Porzingis and Karl-Anthony Towns, Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic is a seven footer. And his 38.6% success rate at three-point range from above the break is the best of anyone in the NBA Skills Challenge.

Play the longshot. Make yourself some money.


Our 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend Props Coverage:

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An industry veteran, Bob literally taught the course on the history of sports at Elder College. He has worked as a Sports Columnist for Postmedia, appeared as a guest on several radio stations, was the Vice President of the Society For International Hockey Research in Ontario, and written 25 books.