The NBA All-Star Game tips off Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET. This is not a traditional sporting event, but there are ways to get in on the action on the DraftKings Sportsbook. It is meaningless exhibition on paper, but so are preseason NFL games and spring training games. The game might mean nothing, but for individual players, exhibitions can mean a lot.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Jazz PG/SG Donovan Mitchell (illness) of Team LeBron has been ruled out of tonight’s All-Star Game.
Team LeBron -5.5 (-110)
There are only narratives. Throw out the stats and the trends, or at least dial them down. Surprisingly, a majority of the recent NBA All-Star Games have been settled by fewer than five points, but recent All-Star Game trends are not best data point to base analysis. Instead, we’re cruising down narrative street on Sunday. Whether you’re betting spring training exhibitions or NFL preseason games, a winning approach is understanding the narratives — or better stated, the incentives. That word narrative is often used as a pejorative in gambling and DFS. If it helps, think of an NBA player narrative as a player’s motivation in this contest. Preseason and spring training wins are often the result of exceptional efforts by individual players that are motivated to make the team or prove something. So who wants to prove something on Sunday night?
The NBA All-Star Game is in Cleveland. The Cavaliers’ representatives, Jarrett Allen and Darius Garland, will be the most motivated players on the court. They might be the only motivated players on the court given the typical lackadaisical approach and limited effort exerted by most players during this contest. Both Allen and Garland are playing for Team LeBron. If anyone else is motivated to play hard in Cleveland, Ohio, it will be LeBron James. He wants to win in Cleveland and he craves the spotlight on big stages (Team LeBron is 4-0). He can’t help himself. When most of the players are clowning around, LeBron will be running up and down the court like it’s Game 7.
Also, if it matters, Team LeBron is a better team. If it matters.
LeBron James +650
Jarrett Allen (+10,000) will be motivated to impress the home town crowd and getting snubbed from the original All-Star Game roster is likely still on his mind. Unfortunately, he does not have the skill set to pad the stat sheet in the way necessary to win MVP. His Cleveland teammate Darius Garland (+5,000) is capable of scoring 30 points, but he won’t get the chance. The memo is out — this is LeBron’s game. Everyone needs to stand down.
Here’s another undeniable narrative. It’s the NBA’s super special 75th season. The NBA All-Star Game trophy is named the The Kobe Bryant Trophy. Kawhi Leonard, a Los Angeles player, was the first winner of the award in 2020. Last year, Giannis Antetokounmpo (+400) won, but LeBron James barely played. James has won everything else, so of course he needs this trophy on his shelf. Yes, this analysis heavily leans on narratives, but this is not a situation where Net Rating, Player Efficiency Rating and Team Defensive Efficiency matter. This season has been a struggle for James and the Lakers, and this is an opportunity for James to paint a different picture of the 2021-22 season.
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