Trying to handicap how many points will be scored in an NBA All-Star Game is essentially a glorified game of pin the tail on the donkey.
The last five NBA All-Star “track meets” have landed on 320, 312, 342, 293 and 374 total points. For context purposes, the average regular season total is lined in the 215 to 225 range.
The consensus odds for Sunday’s showdown are Team LeBron -5.5 and O/U 321.5.
“Yeah, we’re guessing,” PointsBet Sportsbook senior risk trader Sam Garriock told NESN. “We’re at 321.5 at the moment and we’re just beholden to the will of the bidders, really. It’s just a lot of projection using the past to look forward. But we’ve got 11 to 10 on our side. If we’re both flipping coins and we’re getting +110 and you’re laying -110, we should come out the winner.”
Saturday’s 3-point contest is even more of a dice roll for bettors and bookmakers. So how does one create a market on eight of the best shooters in the NBA and price it accordingly?
“There are three important factors for us,” Garriock said. “A player’s 3-point percentage, his free throw percentage and his 3-point attempt rate. The last one is really important because the more 3s you take, the harder those 3s become. If you’re taking a ton in the regular season, it implies that you’re a good shooter.”
Three-Point Contest odds via PointsBet:
Luke Kennard +450 ($100 wins $450)
Fred VanVleet +500
Patty Mills +500
Trae Young +550
Desmond Bane +600
Zach LaVine +600
CJ McCollum +800
Karl-Anthony Towns +1200 ($100 wins $1,200)
“Personally, I’m always backing the outsiders,” Garriock admitted. “There has been some really poor pricing in the past. I remember holding a 25/1 ticket on Kyle Lowry a few years ago. He got knocked out in the first round, but I still consider that to be a good bet.
“You can’t really have anybody too short. Unless there’s a Steph Curry-level shooter, these guys are all pretty close in terms of the underlying talent. It’s all about who gets hot and makes more shots. There’s a ton of variance.”