The NBA Slam Dunk Contest has been a fixture at the All Star game since 1984 when Larry Nance bested Dr J (the original Dunk Champ from the ABA’s first event held in 1976) and became the first to be crowned King Of The NBA Dunkers. Outside of a 2 year hiatus in 98 & 99, the Dunk Contest has been an All-Star Weekend staple that takes place the Saturday prior to the game itself.
Although still viable, the Dunk contest has been on the decline for at least a decade. It’s just tough to come up with something the crowd hasn’t seen before which has led to the use of all kinds of props, gimmicks and extra bodies on the court to assist on the creativity front. Couple that with a wholesale disinterest by the games biggest stars and what’s left is a competition with no-name players trying to come up with something unique to win the crowd over and sway the judges. It’s an event dying a slow death.
Enter the 3-Pt Shoot-Out. Not based on the subjective category of creativity, the Shoot-Out is decided solely on performance. An extra pt for sinking the Money Ball is the only added twist. The major draw is that some of the games biggest stars embrace the 3-Pt event and that is who the fans really want to see compete.
This years field includes the previous two champs Kyrie Irving (2013) and Marco Bellineli (2014). Also participating are the Splash Brothers from Golden St, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. The leagues leading scorer, James Harden, rounds out the field along with the NBAs most unique player, Kyle Korver. A 3pt specialist, Korver has made 160 treys this season vs just 55 2pt FGs, a nearly 3-1 ratio. It’s what he does. What he also does is make free throws. Shooting 92% from the charity stripe, Korver is the NBAs top accuracy guy when uncontested. He shoots better from 3pt range (52.8%) than he does on 2pt shots (48%) so the 3pt Shoot-Out is right in his wheelhouse.
Betting on the Dunk Contest and the 3pt Shoot-Out has been growing over the last few seasons with head-to-head matches available along with the usual To-Win bets that the majority of players wager on. The head-to-head match-ups are superior due to lower vig (usually -115 each way with the occasional -110 at certain books) and the ability to isolate a player or fade one more efficiently.
Odds for both contests came out as soon as the participants were known and Steph Curry opened the 3Pt Shootout fave at +325 followed by Korver at +375. Better odds will likely be available when more books post their numbers. The longshot in the field is, ironically, the leagues leading scorer James Harden at +800.
Saturday, February 14, 2015 7:05pm
(Times shown in Eastern Standard Time)
NBA All-Star Weekend –
Odds to win 3 Point Shootout Contest
Stephen Curry (GS)
Kyle Korver (ATL)
Klay Thompson (GS)
Kyrie Irving (CLE)
J.J Redick (LAC)
Wesley Matthews (POR)
Marco Belinelli (SAN)
James Harden (HOU)
Taking a look at the committed players participating in the Dunk Contest finds no household names and probably no one that the very casual fan has ever heard of. For betting purposes it’s the TimberWolves Zach Levine the big favorite at -110. The field may be added to so avoid going near any Dunk Contest bets until all the participants are finalized.
NBA All-Star Weekend –
Odds to win Slam Dunk Contest
Zach LaVine (MIN)
Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)
Victor Oladipo (ORL)
Mason Plumlee (BRK)
Dunk Contest Trivia:
-Dr J never won an NBA Dunk Contest (He won in ABA in 1976)
-There are four players with two Dunk Contest titles (Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Jason Richardson and Harold Miner)
-There is only one three-time winner. Nate Robertson of the NY Knicks
-Three players have won on their home court. Both Michael Jordan and Blake Griffin won very controversial titles at home. Only Harold Miner in 1994 won at home (in Minneapolis) while being
universally acknowledged as deserving of the title.