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NBA: All-Star Weekend Betting Breakdown

All-Star Game

Maybe it was because Kevin Durant was distracted in some facet while making his selections, but whatever the reason may be, LeBron James pretty unanimously bested the Nets star in the All-Star roster selection draft for the second consecutive season. The injury loss of James Harden (Team LeBron) won't matter dramatically with Team Durant missing its name bearer (knee) along with Draymond Green (back).

It's probably no surprise to many that Team LeBron has been dominant ever since the All-Star captain formula was enacted back in 2018 as LeBron's team has won each of the last four outings by an average margin of 9.75 points. Considering the roster discrepancy in this go around, my favorite lean of the entire weekend has to be Team LeBron winning and covering the -6 spread, but even just grabbing Team LeBron as the winner at -230 is a comfortably safe choice.

There probably will be some All-Star prop bets that surface on some betting platforms prior to Sunday's contest, but the overwhelming money placed on All-Star weekend will come in the form of the NBA All-Star MVP award. Just sticking in the same All-Star captain timeframe, the winning team has claimed the MVP award each of the last four seasons. In fact, the last time the losing All-Star team managed to snag the MVP award dates all the way back to 1990 when Magic Johnson won the honor despite scoring just 22 points in a 17-point loss.

Considering I believe Team LeBron should come out of this victorious that pretty significantly narrows the field. Yes, this game will be played in Cleveland so it's entirely possible we get a vintage All-Star performance from the kid from Akron, but James played just 13 minutes in last year's All-Star game and saw close to the fewest All-Star starter minutes back in 2020. There will probably be a point – and likely soon given LeBron's career might be coming to a close in the near future – that the ever-conscience student of NBA history might want to play enough to push for a record-tying fourth NBA All-Star MVP award, but I'm not convinced it's this year. James, who shares the co-favorite MVP betting odds (+600) with Giannis Antetokounmpo on certain platforms, would easily be my favorite of the two, but there are some better long shots to at least explore.

First, it's important to rule out most All-Star reserves. Russell Westbrook won the All-Star MVP back in 2015 as a reserve, but that game saw the guard take a stunning 28 shots, the second-most by any player over the last decade aside from Anthony Davis' 39 attempts back in 2017 when the Western Conference team was clearly trying to feed the MVP to the hometown favorite with the game being played in New Orleans. In short, it just doesn't happen too much as the starters play just enough minutes to siphon off showcase time from the reserves.

While flashy three-point shooters are all the rage currently in the NBA, the All-Star MVP award hasn't really reflected that sort of change as the ahem....indifferent defensive attitude in the league's marquee matchup generally allows for slashing dunkers to thrive. In fact, nobody who has attempted 10 or more threes in the past 10 years has won an MVP. Stephen Curry tried to buck that trend last year, but Giannis' uber efficiency rightfully won out. That knocks out Curry and Trae Young, with the former probably more well-positioned being on LeBron's team.

Sticking on the winning side, Nikola Jokic theoretically has the type of game to be successful given All-Star MVP's have won off passing merit (see Chris Paul in 2013), but I think Joel Embiid on the other side would neutralize some of the offensive power needed. Ja Morant or Jayson Tatumwould be interesting selections if you believe Team Durant has a shot, but Morant specifically is naturally being priced up as a prohibitive favorite given his name value.

That whittles the list down to one of my favorite overall bets, DeMar DeRozan at +2500 for All-Star MVP (on DraftKings as of 1:31 PM CT on Friday). Primarily a mid-range scorer, it's not hard to imagine DeRozan working his yeoman game successfully in the interior to go along with a couple of rim-rattling dunks and he'll certainly have narrative working in his favor given his quietly emerging overall MVP push in recent weeks. I'll probably have action on both LeBron MVP at +600 or DeRozan MVP at +2500 with the latter also being a target if individual prop bets emerge for that game.

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