Hey, did you hear today’s is Kobe’s last All-Star Game??
OK, obviously I am kidding, but it is fair to observe that this game has been made about Kobe’s Farewell first and foremost… which makes for an interesting take on my pick column today. There aren’t many relevant analytics or trends for All-Star Games, they are more wagers for entertainment (please treat yours as so – or at least consider that reasonable approach). Just like yesterday – we hit on Zach Levine (though the Aaron Gordon dunk where he jumped and took the ball out of the mascot’s hand, who was spinning in 360 circles on a hoverboard, then got his body into a seated position over five feet in the air, wrapped the ball under his legs, and dunked it – was the most insane thing I saw all night (ever?) To put that in perspective, it would be the equivalent of you jumping high enough to contort your body into a seated position over the height of your refrigerator….
Back to the All Star Game, it’s going to be a fun show, but any wager must be filtered through the prism of Kobe and the seeming hero-worship that is being elicited from most of tonight’s participants.
Here’s my take on today’s All Star Game – it should be a fun and memorable show.
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NBA All Star Game – Western Conference All-Stars -6 vs. Eastern Conference All Stars @ Toronto
Let’s start with the basics: the Western roster is a lot better top to bottom. While the East will bring Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford and Paul Milsap off the bench, the West counters with Chris Paul, James Harden, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Klay Thompson. Ridiculous. The Starters, aside from LeBron, have to be “edge West” as well. LeBron is brilliant, but Carmelo, Wade, Paul George and Kyle Lowry would be overwhelmed the West’s backups. Match them against Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Kawhi Leonard, and we have a problem.
But then there is the fifth starter, Kobe Bryant. He has been playing more like vintage-Kobe than “old-Kobe” the last few weeks, but to put him on a plane with the rest at this point in his career is a tad generous. I’m looking forward to seeing him play, and I hope he drops 40 points on 23 shots. But it is more likely he scores 20 on at least 20 shots. And that is the reason I’ll take the East. When push comes to shove, Durant and Curry are going to gently bow to the veteran legend. The East will have no such burden. They will play through LeBron down the stretch and have the edge. It is all fun and games until the final four minutes of the All Star Game, when they best five players on each squad finally mentally slap the floor and play some D.
The West will benefit from the stretches without Kobe on the floor, and if they can get Russell Westbrook matched with the second unit, I don’t expect him to be shy or defer to anyone. But, considering the fact the game is in Toronto and the Eastern Conference, I’ll take the home team, despite an obvious roster disadvantage.
The East is getting six points, which is a nice cushion in case the Kobe Fairytale buzzer-beater comes to fruition. We can still cover.
I’ll take the East. I’m not opposed to a playful moneyline wager either, but I’ll stake my official pick on East +6
If you want a couple fun wagers, Kobe is the easy favorite for MVP at +135. I think Curry and Durant are too polite and classy to steal Kobe’s show, so I’ll stay away from each at +500 and +1000 respectively. My favorite plays are Eastern Conference stars. The obvious is LeBron at +800. The subtle is Kyle Lowry and the home-crowd boost at +2000.
If you want two more sleepers, look at Russell Westbrook, who doesn’t strike me as the type to defer for anyone or anything EVER, at +800, and DeMar DeRozan off the bench jacking up hometown shots at +2200