NBA All-Star Weekend begins on Friday, Feb. 17 with the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game and ends with the 66th NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 19. This Saturday, the pro basketball league showcases its top athletes in three contests: the Skills Challenge, the Three-Point Contest, and the Slam Dunk Contest.
Who's the best overall skilled player in the NBA? Which player is the deadliest from three? Who can throw down like the greats? Keep reading for my picks for the NBA Skills Challenge, the Three-Point Contest, and the Dunk Contest!
NBA All-Star Weekend Events
When: Saturday, Feb. 18
Where: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA
2017 NBA Skills Challenge
Analysis: Boston's Isaiah Thomas battled Minnesota big Karl-Anthony Towns in last year's NBA Skills Challenge Final. Although odds aren't yet available as of this writing, Thomas should be considered the favorite in this year's Skills Challenge. DeMarcus Cousins was particularly strong last season until facing then rookie Towns. With Towns deciding to take a seat in this year's Skills Challenge, it's all about Isaiah. But I'm not sure if Isaiah is a lock.
Although Anthony Davis lost to Boogie in last year's quarterfinals, the judges for the NBA All-Star Events love to award home city players. Davis is as skilled as any player in the NBA. He proves it day in and day out by averaging 28 points, 12 boards, 1.3 steals, 2.5 blocks, and 2.2 assists per game.
The judges desperately want to give it to AD. So, if there's any chance that they can, they will. I think he turns the tables on Boogie and takes down surprise entrant Suns' player Devin Booker in the Skills Challenge Finals.
2017 NBA Three-Point Contest
Klay Thompson +175
C.J. McCollum +500
Kyrie Irving +500
Kyle Lowry +650
Eric Gordon +750
Nick Young +850
Wes Matthews +850
Kemba Walker +950
Analysis: Every player on this list has a sweet stroke. Why, then, is Golden State's Klay Thompson at +175? I'm not sure. Yes, Klay won the award in 2016. But Eric Gordon and Kyle Lowry are both right around Klay's average three-pointers made per game this season at 3.3. In fact, Gordon is at 3.5 made per game while Lowry is at 3.3 just like Klay.
Thompson and Irving, both of whom have won this contest before, will get some love. McCollum is an underlay at +500 since last week he was having trouble from deep. But, both Lowry and Gordon deserve attention. Out of the two, I prefer Lowry over Gordon.
Lowry hits 3.3 from 7.8 attempts per while Gordon hits 3.3 from 9.2 attempts per. I think Lowry takes on Klay in the NBA Three-Point Contest Finals on Saturday and beats him by 1 or 2 shots.
2017 NBA Slam Dunk Contest Odds
Aaron Gordon -200
Derrick Jones Jr. +155
Glen Robinson III +750
DeAndre Jordan +1200
Analysis: 2015 and 2016 NBA Dunk Contest winner Minnesota T'Wolf Zach Lavine was supposed to battle it out with Orlando Magic player Aaron Gordon in the 2017 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. Last year's contest was thrilling. Both Gordon and Lavine scored a 100 in the final round.
In the first overtime, both Gordon and Lavine each scored a 50. In the second overtime, Lavine scored a 50 while Gordon scored a 47. With Lavine sitting out this year's contest, Gordon has become a -200 lock. Is he the winner?
I don't think so. Phoenix Suns' 6' 7" rookie forward Derrick Jones Jr., who's only played in six games this season, is a dunk master. At +150 he's an underlay to out-shine Aaron Gordon on Feb. 18. That's how strong the kid can throw down.
Unless Jones Jr. chokes, he beats Gordon in what could be one of the most entertaining NBA Dunk Contests in history. That's how talented both Gordon and Jones Jr. are at weaving and dunking the rock.