All-Star Weekend in Cleveland (Expect a show from LeBron)
The NBA All Star Weekend consists of five main attractions:
Slam Dunk Contest
Three Point Contest
The Futures Games ended Friday night. They were mildly entertaining. Perhaps the best part was the hot hand of Precious Achiuwa and his overconfidence getting the best of him. Precious passed-up a wide open Desmond Bane (and we can’t stress enough just how wide open he was) so that he could take a semi-contested corner three, subsequently air balling it by two feet. This decision cost Team Isiah the game.
Aside from that, we have an action-packed Saturday and the All Star game (defense optional) to follow on Sunday. For now, let’s get into the prop picks for the weekend.
Odds via DraftKings
Desmond Bane to win Three Point Contest +600
There’s a video out there on Twitter from June of 2020 where Desmond Bane hits 43 consecutive three-pointers from the top of the key. I’m not saying we should give credit for workout videos often, but 43 straight threes is insanely good. In case you’re unaware, Desmond Bane is a second year Grizzlies player from TCU. He was a fairly late pick in the 2020 Draft from TCU and has emerged this season as one of the league’s top three-point shooters (4th in the NBA at 41.9% from deep).
The thing we haven’t mentioned yet is his attitude. This man wants all the smoke. He competes at high intensity and is on a different level in competitiveness. If you think he’s going to flinch in this contest on this stage, you’re going to be very surprised after this weekend.
Team Rooks to win Skills Challenge -125
This year’s Taco Bell Skills Challenge will consist of three teams, each with three players, competing in three events. The events are shooting (30 seconds for each player to shoot from five different spots on the court, each with different point values). The second is passing (30 seconds to complete passes into large, moving targets). The last event is the relay, in which players will throw outlet passes, dribble around things, shoot corner threes, and then run the length of the court to finish it off.
Once these three events are complete, the two teams with the most points will advance to the final round, which is simply the team who makes the half–court shot in the fastest time. It’s key to break this up, because the final round should be kind of a crapshoot. We anticipate the two better shooting teams to make the final, which shouldn’t be hard to determine, based on the players involved. Team Rooks has Cade Cunningham, Scottie Barnes, and Josh Giddey. Team Antentokounmpo has Giannis and his two brothers, and Team Cavs has Garland, Allen, and Mobley.
We like Team Rooks here because of the events and the specific skill levels of these three competitors. All that matters is that they don’t finish last. Facing a team of Antentoukoumnpo brothers, I don’t anticipate that being the case. What matters to us is the final, which will include two bigs (Allen and Mobley) and Garland. Garland is the biggest threat to hit the half-court shot first, but the three Rooks are all decent shooters, so we prefer the slightly better odds having three capable shooters to one and two questionable big guys.
LeBron James to win All Star Game MVP +650
This is going to be a special game for Lebron James. I know we’ve been force-fed the Lebron narratives for 19 seasons now, but a return to where things began for him should be motivating to him. Any time Lebron has a chance to make something about himself or be the center of attention, it happens. Whether it’s his own doing or not, the man makes sure he’s front and center (see Lebron suggesting the Lakers have a championship party from their bubble title two years ago, alongside the Rams this past week).
Following the drama surrounding “The Decision” and the “I’m coming home” announcement (as soon as the Cavs had Kyrie and other great assets), Lebron finally delivered on his promise to Cleveland. Unfortunately for Cleveland, the team was left decimated by Lebron’s departure for Los Angeles. With the Lakers struggling this season and the Cavs showing a lot of promise, expect Lebron to put on a show in the All Star game, as well as drop a cryptic message or two about how Cleveland is everything to him.
The motivation is there, the story is there, and there’s also an incentive for Lebron to get his fourth All Star Game MVP award. By doing so, Lebron could tie Kobe for the record for most ASG MVPs. This gives Lebron, as a current Laker, even more of an opportunity to make some Kobe tribute for the Lakers fans out there. It’s a win-win for Lebron, and at his current high level of play, expect him to try really hard to win this award (and expect his teammates to let him have it).