Host Jazz Seek Hometown Crown
The NBA Skills Challenge will take place as part of the Saturday night festivities in Salt Lake City. It’ll be the second straight season in its current format, with three teams competing for the top prize.
It’s not always easy to know who will throw a ball through a hoop fastest and who will make a half-court shot first, but we’ll try to prepare you for some online gambling. Make sure you check out all the NBA odds, stats, injury reports, and NBA lines for the Skills Challenge in this NBA betting preview.
Antetokounmpo Brothers on Center Stage
When Giannis, Thanasis and Alex competed at the 2022 Skills Challenge in Cleveland, they said they wanted to return the following season. The NBA was okay with it, giving them one of the three spots alongside the host Jazz and a trio of rookies.
Giannis and company fell short in their first season in the competition and will be a difficult bet this time around. It’s a busy weekend for the brothers, who are also taking part in a youth basketball camp and helping to coach the celebrity squads.
Giannis is a dominant force, but nobody would argue he’s the most skills-y guy around. If it’s a sheer athleticism competition, he’d be a favorite. But John Stockton he is not. Nor is Thanasis, a veritable 12th man for Milwaukee who is 4-for-19 on the season, or Alex, a reserve for the G League Wisconsin Herd.
Oh, and breaking news: Giannis hurt his wrist Thursday night and his status is up in the air. For a bet online, look elsewhere.
Rookie Studs Hoping to Stand Out
The rookie crew this season will consist of Rookie of the Year front-runner Paolo Banchero of Orlando, Detroit’s Jaden Ivey and Houston’s Jabari Smith Jr. All three have shown themselves to be well-rounded players, ranking in the top five among rookies in PPG. Banchero and Smith are also in the top five in rebounds per game among rookies and Ivey leads all first-year players in assists per contest.
The NBA got the right guys for this, and they did well to get some length in Banchero (6-10) and Smith Jr. (6-10). Since frontcourt players were allowed to participate in this event in 2016, several have been crowned champs, including Karl-Anthony Towns, Bam Adebayo and Domantas Sabonis.
These youngsters have a good shot.
Clarkson Leads Jazz Contingent
Utah is hosting the All-Star Game for the first time since 1993. They will be jazzed (sorry) for another fun weekend. Vivint Arena is a familiar spot for one of the skills teams – Jordan Clarkson, Walker Kessler and Collin Sexton.
The Cleveland team won this thing when it was played there last season, and it stands to reason that this Utah contingent will do the same. Clarkson and Sexton regularly showcase very good scoring and passing abilities. Kessler has settled in well in his first season, shooting 71.2% and blocking shots left and right with timing and hands that will come into play Saturday.
Skills Challenge Game Information
- Location: Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
- Day/Time: Saturday, Feb. 18, 8:00 p.m. ET
- NBA Skills Challenge Live stream: NBA Game Pass
Skills Challenge Betting Lines
|KIA SKILLS CHALLENGE WINNER||MONEYLINE|
|Team Jazz (J. Clarkson, W. Kessler, C. Sexton)||-115|
|Team Rookies (P. Banchero, J. Ivey, J. Smith Jr.)||+135|
|Team Antetokounmpo (Giannis, Thanasis & Alex)||+550|
The odds in this chart are based on the time of publication. They are subject to change.
Skills Challenge Picks and Prediction
Don’t overthink it. Go with the team that’s actually a team playing on the court they call home.