Welcome everyone to a super special edition of NBA Picks and Predictions!  Tonight we’re going to be going over the Rising Stars USA vs World game, which includes rookies and sophomores around the NBA.  We’re also going to go through the Skills, Dunk, and 3 Point contests and see if we can find some nice props there for us to bet.  Let’s get right into it.

World All Stars vs USA All Stars

Total – 291.5, USA -3.5

Before we get into breaking this game down let’s introduce the teams.

Team USA:

Guards: D’Angelo Russell, Devin Booker, Malcolm Brogdon.

Forwards: Brandon Ingram, Jonathon Simmons, Frank Kaminsky, Marquese Chriss.

Centers: Karl Anthony-Towns, Miles Turner, Jahlil Okafor.

Projected Starters: PG – Russell SG – Booker – SF – Ingram PF – Karl Anthony-Towns C – Myles Turner

Team WORLD:

Guards: Dante Exum, Buddy Hield, Alex Abrines, Jamal Murray.

Forwards: Dario Saric, Kristaps Porzingis, Trey Lyles, Willy Hernangomez, Domantas Sabonis.

Centers: Nikola Jokic.

Projected Starters: PG – Exum SG – Hield SF – Saric PF – Porzingis – C – Jokic

These are what I believe will be the starters for each team but I know nothing official as of now.  If you look at these teams in a vacuum, and you’re as big of an NBA fan as I am, you know who has the best player.  It’s Nikola Jokic, on team World.  Sorry, Wolves fans, but in this game, where no defense will be played, he’s the best offensive player on the court.  I obviously can’t project how these teams will play together but I can look at their individual offensive stats and go from there.  I went to the handy dandy statmuse.com and looked up each player’s offensive rating.  The best player on the USA team according to Offensive Rating is KAT.  He has a 117.2 ORtg, slightly better than Myles Turner’s 115.1.  On the World team the player with the best ORtg is Jokic, by far, with a 127.8.  The next on the team is Porzingis at 109.  I added up all of the player’s ORtg’s and averaged them out.  Team USA scored an average of 104.05 ORtg.  Team World scored an average of 104.29 ORtg.  Then I looked up each individual player’s eFG%.  This stat (effective Field Goal percentage), is basically a shooting efficiency stat.  It takes three pointers, and two pointers into consideration when grading.  Team USA scored a .488 eFG%, slightly behind Team World’s .495 eFG%.  I’m not saying that because of these tiny stat differences that Team World is better.  What I like about team World is that so many of their players are in situations where they’re not asked to perform offensively.  Players like Exum, Hield, Abrines, Lyles, Sabonis, are all tertiary options, or below.  Players on the USA rosters like Russell, Booker, KAT, and Turner are all focal points of their offenses, to a certain degree.  I also think that the Team USA won’t be able to contain Porzingis, and Jokic.  They’re going to be the two best players and one of the two will win the MVP of the game.  Last year Porzingis dropped 30 points on 6-8 3P Shooting.  There’s so experience on the USA side as well with Towns scoring 18, Russel scoring 22, and Booker scoring 23.  Team USA has some of the experience factors, but smart players like Jokic, Exum, Saric, and Porzingis may all be more important.  The line as it stands is USA -3.5.  I’m going to be on the take on this one.  I think Team World will have the best 2 players on the court, and I’m picking them to win.  I’m also going to be on the first half total over, if they offer it.  If not I’ll be on the full game over.  Commonly, teams play more defense, as they try to win in the 3rd and 4th quarters.

Plays: World +3.5 (Outright), First Half Over (If It’s offered), if no FH Over, than o291.5

NBA Dunk Contest Picks:

Contestants: Aaron Gordon (-170), Derrick Jones Jr (+171), DeAndre Jordan (+1001), Glenn Robinson III (+1203)

In the Slam Dunk Contest we have the Magic’s Aaron Gordon, the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan, the Pacers’ Glen Robinson III, and the Suns’ D-League Affiliate Team’s Derrick Jones Jr.  I just looked up some Derrick Jones Jr tape and that kid has some hops.  He’s 6’7 with about a 41” Max vertical. Which is just crazy.  Coming out of college Aaron Gordon, who jumped over a mascot on a hover board, had a 39” max vertical coming out of college.  For a bet however, I honestly don’t believe there’s value anywhere.  I think Aaron Gordon will make it to the finals but the second spot is so up for grabs.  Glenn Robinson is an underrated dunker so +1203 is interesting.  DeAndre Jordan is a huge wild card because people don’t think of him as athletic.  He’s probably a top 3 fastest Center in the league and has a lot more verticality than he shows.  Derrick Jones Jr is a crazy young kid that can jump high, we really don’t know what we’re going to get but the odds makers are taking the public route on him and favoring him.  Since there’s an unknown quantity, Jones, I don’t want to place a bet on the top 2 projected guys.  If I’m taking a flier it might as well be on GR3.  Recently the judges go against tall guys.  We’ve seen this with Giannis, and Mason Plumlee, lately.  They do awesome dunks but they look bad because you’re already seven feet tall.

Plays: GR3 if you’re just putting some lunch money on it.  If you’re really looking for a strong pick take the chalk with Aaron Gordon.

NBA Skills Competition:

Contestants: Anthony Davis (+1050), DeMarcus Cousins (+1241), Devin Booker (+436), Gordon Hayward (+824), Isaiah Thomas (+228), John Wall (+284), Kristaps Porzingis (+1050), Nikola Jokic (+1008)

In the skill competition you get tested on 3 things.  Dribbling, Passing, Shooting.  It’s going to be little guys vs big guys, so it depends on the bracketing but I have some solid leans on this one.  If I were to pick a big guy I’d go with Jokic.  He’s not significantly slower than any other big guy in the competition, and he’s the best passer of the bunch.  He has the second highest 3P% after Porzingis, and after him it drops off quite a bit.  I don’t think Anthony Davis has a shot because of his shooting, and I don’t think Boogie does because he’s too slow.  Out of the little guys I have to eliminate Hayward off the top, sorry Utah fans.  He’s not fast enough, and he’s the worst passer of the bunch.  After him it’s basically a crap shoot.  John Wall, out of the three smalls remaining, has the least chance in my opinion.  He can barely shoot threes, but he’s a stellar ball handler and passer.  It’s between Isaiah Thomas and Booker if I had to widdle it down.  Once I’m at that two I’m going to go with the better shooter.  Devin Booker is a solid passer but he doesn’t need to in the offense that he plays.  He may shock people.

Plays: Big Guys – Jokic +1008 for some lunch money. Little Guys – Devin Booker +436 for a little more than lunch money.

NBA 3 Point Contest

Contestants: CJ McCollum (+700), Eric Gordon (+776), Kemba Walker (+1100), Klay Thompson (+185), Kyle Lowry (+882), Kyrie Irving (+440), Nick Young (+796), Wesley Matthews (+1102)

To end the night we have the 3 point contest.  Last year’s winner, Klay Thompson, is once again the favorite.  The top three guys in this one at shootings threes are as follows: Kyrie 43.5%, Klay 42.5%, McCollum 41.6%.  Everyone else, Gordon, Lowry, Matthews, Young, Kemba, we can cross off.  We’ve cut it down to +440, +185, and +700.  Those are three great odds in an eight man competition. Reasons I’m cutting the people out that I did are as such: Lowry – shoots too much with his legs, better off the dribble guy.  Kemba – the worst of the bunch, 33.3%.  Young – release takes way too long. Matthews – same deal as Lowry.  Gordon – high volume shooter off of pick and rolls or open catch and shoots.  I think Klay, Kyrie, and McCollum fit the best in this ‘pick up the ball off the rack and shoot’ competition.  Klay is one of the best pure shooters of ALL TIME, so I’ll be putting the most money on him.  The other two I’ll put some lunch money on and make sure I’m profiting if either three win.

Plays: Klay +185, Kyrie +440, McCollum +700

I hope you all enjoyed this special article.  Hopefully we get some of these right and we can make some money! Enjoy the weekend! I’ll be back when NBA starts up again! @ManitobaMoney.