We’re inching closer to NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto (Feb. 12-14). The starters have been voted in; the reserves have been named; and the fields for the various skills competitions are beginning to take shape.
The Warriors’ Steph Curry is poised to defend his title in the Three-Point Contest, as is the T-Wolves’ Zach LaVine in the Slam Dunk Contest. It doesn’t look like Canadian fans will get to see their home-grown hero Andrew Wiggins go head-to-head with his Minnesota teammate, but that doesn’t mean LaVine will have a free pass – or be the fan-favorite. The Raptors’ high-flying Terrence Ross is a likely participant and would be a huge threat to LaVine’s title.
In the less-talked-about Skills Challenge, defending champ Patrick Beverley could see stiff competition from two-time champ Damian Lillard. He may also find an inspired Isaiah Thomas out for vengeance!
Enough chatter. Let’s get to the odds for the annual talent showcase.
2016 NBA Skills Competition Odds (All odds assume participation.)
Odds to win the 2016 Three-Point Contest
- Steph Curry (Golden State): 5/4
Curry won last year and said he’s likely to defend his title. His shot has been a little off of late, but he’s still the best three-point shooter in NBA history.
- JJ Redick (LA Clippers): 4/1
The Clippers’ sharpshooter didn’t do real well last year. But neither did Curry in his first (couple) attempt(s). Redick is a career 40-percent shooter from three and is having his best year to date, hitting at a 48-percent clip (best in the NBA).
- Kyle Korver (Atlanta): 11/2
Korver was second in the league in three-point percentage last year – connecting on nearly half his attempts. His percentage is way down this season (37-percent). But he’s 43-percent for his career and, on a good day, can still reign tres with the best.
- Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio): 11/2
Leonard is only a 39-percent three-point shooter for his career, but that has shot way up this year to nearly 48-percent. And that’s coincided with an increase in attempts, too. The defensive stalwart has really upped his shooting game.
- Devin Booker (Phoenix): 9/1
The Suns rookie is only on the list because it’s been confirmed that he’ll participate. He’s a solid shooter from the outside (41-percent for the year). Beating the likes of Curry and Redick in your first appearance requires a little more than that, though.
Odds to win the 2016 Slam Dunk Contest
- Zach LaVine (Minnesota): 3/2
LaVine is the defending champ. Nate Robinson was the last man to defend the title (2009 and 2010). LaVine has the chops to go back-to-back.
- Terrence Ross (Toronto): 3/1
T-Ross will be the hometown hero if he enters the dunk contest. Expect the slender slammer to get a huge boost from the crowd – which will inevitably sway some judges.
- Aaron Gordon (Orlando): 6/1
Gordon’s teammate, Victor Oladipo, finished second last year. Gordon is a prime candidate to take up the reins for the Magic. His effortless in-game dunks and prior dunk-contest success portend big things from the former Arizona standout.
Odds to win the 2016 Skills Challenge
- Damian Lillard (Portland): 3/1
Lillard has already won the Skills Challenge twice. I don’t think he’ll enter this year. If I were him, I’d be peeved about being left off the ASG roster. But if he does make his way to T-Dot for another crack at the skills comp., he’ll do so with a chip on his shoulder.
- Patrick Beverley (Houston): 7/2
Beverly won last year, which took most people by surprise. I don’t really expect regression the second time around, but I also know the calibre of guard he’s going to be facing.
- Isaiah Thomas (Boston): 9/2
Thomas was expected to do well last year, but he fell to the upstart Beverly in the first round. With the confidence of an ASG selection under his cap, I’d expect a better showing from the diminutive Celtic this time around.
- Trey Burke (Utah): 6/1
Burke has the speed, versatility, and accuracy to win; he also has Skills Challenge experience and would know where and how to shave seconds.
(Photo credit: Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Stephen Curry) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)