- The NBA All-Star Game returns to Los Angeles on Sunday, February 18.
- Will Russell Westbrook win his third All-Star Game MVP?
- Will a team finally break the 200-point threshold?
- Could Larry Nance Jr. follow in his father’s footsteps and win the Slam Dunk Contest?
The 2018 NBA All-Star Game will have a very different flavor this year thanks to a series of sweeping changes designed to make it more competitive. The league has ditched its traditional East vs West format and, instead, empowered its two leading vote-getters, LeBron James and Steph Curry, to pick their own teams. It hasn’t been entirely smooth sailing due to a rash of injuries and a hilarious misunderstanding involving Russell Westbrook and the alphabet, but it has generated tons of buzz among fans and players, alike.
We’ve dissected the two rosters and come up with the early odds on which team will come out on top, who will win MVP, and which young players will be invited to join the big boys in 2019. We also have the inside scoop on which high-flyer will rise to the top of the Verizon Slam Dunk Contest.
Odds to Win the 2018 All-Star Game
LeBron James has long been considered one of the greatest players in basketball history, and after All-Star Weekend, he may also go down as one of the greatest general managers as well. LeBron cornered the market on former All-Star Game MVPs by drafting Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook. He rounded out his roster with Paul George, who scored 41 points in the 2016 All-Star Game, and Kristaps Porzingis, who led Team World in scoring at the 2016 Rising Stars Challenge. Face it, if he assembled any more weapons, he would be put under U.N. sanctions.
Team Steph has plenty of firepower too, but lacks depth, experience, and past ASG success. Big men like Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns will struggle to keep up with the game’s frenetic pace, while Al Horford will look more out of place than an Amish farmer at a Radio Shack. The good news for Curry is he should get the last laugh in June when he beats LeBron again in the NBA Finals.
The moneylines, point spreads, and over/unders for the 2018 All-Star Game will be available soon. You can place a wager by visiting one of these sportsbooks. If you can get Team LeBron at close to even money, jump on it.
Over/Under Total Points: 355.5
The NBA revamped its All-Star Game format to curb rampant scoring, but don’t expect this year’s match-up to suddenly transform into a grind-it-out affair. Team LeBron and Team Steph possess too many lights-out shooters to go cold, and neither team has more than a pair of lockdown defenders. Unless Horford logs 40 minutes and swats a dozen shots, this one will easily surpass 350 points.
All-Star Game MVP Odds
|Russell Westbrook (Thunder/Team LeBron)||4/1|
|LeBron James (Cavaliers/Team LeBron)||8/1|
|James Harden (Rockets/Team Steph)||9/1|
|Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks/Team Steph)||10/1|
The NBA All-Star Game MVP award typically goes to an explosive scorer with local roots and something to prove.
The NBA All-Star Game MVP award typically goes to an explosive scorer with local roots and something to prove. If it sounds like we’re describing Westbrook, then you’re absolutely right. The Long Beach native and UCLA alum is averaging 37.6 points over his last three All-Star Games and plays with a chip on his shoulder the size of a redwood. “Beastbrook’s” frantic, balls-to-the-wall approach earned him MVP honors in 2015 and 2016, and it should allow him to capture his third trophy this year as he leads Team LeBron to a resounding win.
Slam Dunk Contest odds
|Larry Nance Jr. (Lakers)||13/7|
|Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)||7/3|
|Victor Oladipo (Pacers)||4/1|
|Dennis Smith Jr. (Mavs)||17/3|
Larry Nance Jr. was born to win the Slam Dunk contest. Literally. The 6-foot-9 pogo stick is a phenomenal leaper whose father beat out Dr. J. and Dominique Wilkins to win the inaugural event back in 1984. In addition to having history on his side, Nance should also receive plenty of support from the crowd as the only Laker participating in any of All-Star Weekend’s marquee events. Don’t be surprised to see him break out some of his old man’s old moves as he cradles and windmills his way to the title.
Odds to Become All-Stars in 2018-19
|Ben Simmons (76ers)||1/3|
|Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)||2/3|
|Devin Booker (Suns)||1/1|
|Brandon Ingram (Lakers)||7/1|
|Lonzo Ball (Lakers)||8/1|
|Dennis Smith Jr. (Mavs)||9/1|
|Lauri Markkanen (Bulls)||10/1|
|John Collins (Hawks)||25/1|
|De’Aaron Fox (Kings)||30/1|
|Jonathan Isaac (Magic)||40/1|
Ben Simmons was one of this year’s biggest All-Star Game snubs after finishing fourth among all Eastern Conference guards with 210,085 votes. His inability to crack the squad had more to do with his limited resume than his limited skillset, as voters typically shy away from rookies. Expect the 6-foot-10 Aussie to join Philly teammate Joel Embiid next year and for many years to come.
Mitchell could become another All-Star Game regular as he continues to slice up opposing defenses. “Spida” is leading the Jazz in scoring at 19.7 PPG and recently became the first rookie since 2011 to score 40 or more points in a game.
Don’t sleep on Devin Booker. The sweet-shooting 21-year-old is 12th in the league in scoring at 24.1 PPG, and already has a 70-point game under his belt. His All-Star stock should go up considerably once the Suns rise from the Western Conference cellar.
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