2023 NBA All-Star 3-Point Contest Betting Preview: Blazers’ Lillard Favored, But Not The Pick

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Damian Lillard of the Trail Blazers shoots against the Spurs on January 23, 2023. Steph Chambers/Getty Images/AFP

NBA Pick: Buddy Hield [Pacers] Three-Point Contest Winner (+400) at BetOnline(visit our BetOnline Review)

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Buddy Hield [Pacers] Three-Point Contest Winner (+400)
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Unlike the Slam Dunk Contest during the NBA All-Star Weekend in Salt Lake City, the 3-Point Contest on Saturday has some star power in it.

Portland star Damian Lillard is the betting favorite at the top-rated online sportsbooks. Is he the right play for our NBA pick

Check out the best US betting sites available in order to make secure wagers in your own home state.

NBA All-Star 2023 3-Point Contest 

Saturday, February 18, 2023 – 08:00 PM EST at Vivint Arena

Note that the start time for the 3-Point Contest is simply the start time for all of Saturday’s All-Star Weekend festivities from Salt Lake City, home of the Utah Jazz. Honestly, that’s probably the last place NBA players want to be, but that’s a story for another day.

The first event Saturday is the Skills Challenge, followed by the 3-Point Contest and then the Slam Dunk Contest. So the 3-Point Contest may not start until something like 9 PM, but that’s simply a guess.  

Remember when the Dunk Contest used to be the All-Star highlight? That’s DEFINITELY not the case any longer as no stars opt to participate these days. It’s sad, really. Can you even name the competitors this year? They would be:

  • Houston Rockets: Kenyon Martin Jr.
  • Philadelphia 76ers: Mac McClung
  • New Orleans Pelicans: Trey Murphy
  • New York Knicks: Jericho Sims

McClung is the (-125) favorite and the dude has two games under his belt in the NBA, both last season. He was called up from the G League simply to compete. 

The 3-Point Contest, meanwhile, has all familiar names and five guys who will play in Sunday’s All-Star Game:

  • Portland Trailblazers: Damian Lillard
  • Indiana Pacers: Tyrese Haliburton
  • New York Knicks: Julius Randle
  • Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum
  • Utah Jazz: Lauri Markkanen

Randle is replacing injured Anfernee Simons of Portland.  

None of the 2022 Finalists Are Competing 

I’m not going to go into full detail on how the contest works but there are five racks of balls.

Four of the racks contain normal balls and one multi-colored “money” ball. The normal balls are worth one point and the money ball is worth two points. The fifth rack is all money balls and each competitor decides where that rack will be placed in one of five stations around the arc. Every ball on this rack is worth two points.

Two ball pedestals are positioned at the “Starry Range.” Each ball pedestal holds one special white “Starry” ball, and shots made with those are worth 3 points. Starry is a type of soft drink apparently. It was called the Mountain Dew Zone last year. 

Each competitor has 70 seconds to shoot as many of the 27 balls as he can, and the three with the highest scores advance to the championship round. 

3-Point Contest Competitors 2022 vs. 2023

For obvious reasons, guards usually win this, but the defending champion is Minnesota big man Karl-Anthony Towns, who finished with a record 29 final-round points. He made 18 of his first 22 shots, four of five on his money-ball rack and one from deep range. Atlanta’s Trae Young and the Los Angeles Clippers’ Luke Kennard were the other finalists. None of those three are competing this year. KAT might have but get hurt months ago.  

Portland’s Lillard (+300 favorite at BetOnline) is in the competition for the third time but has yet to win. He is tied for the second-most average 3-point makes per game at 4.2 this regular season (Steph Curry leads at 4.9) and fourth in overall makes at 191. Lillard is “only” shooting 37.2% from deep. He is -120 to reach the Finals. 

Buddy Bombing Away This Year

Indiana’s Buddy Hield, who had been mentioned in many trade rumors ahead of last week’s NBA trade deadline but ultimately stayed put, is the (+400) second favorite and (+120) to reach the Finals at current NBA odds. He leads the NBA by far in made 3-pointers with 230 – that’s really all he does. He already has passed Hall of Famer Reggie Miller for the most 3-pointers made in a single season in franchise history. 

Hield’s 42.6% from deep is No. 8 in the NBA and the best of any player in this competition by a pretty fair amount. He won the competition in 2020 in Chicago while with the Sacramento Kings. No member of the Pacers has won this even though Miller was in it five times. 

Markkanen With Home-Court Advantage 

Obviously, Markkanen (+650 to win, +225 to reach Finals) has a bit of an advantage playing in his home gym. He has been one of the breakout stars of this NBA season and is the betting favorite to win the NBA’s Most Improved Player award, averaging 24.9 points per game and making 41.3% of his 3-point attempts.

It’s his first year in Utah as he was part of this past summer’s Donovan Mitchell trade. The lone Jazz player to win this contest was Jeff Hornacek twice. 

Boston’s Tatum is the best overall player in this year’s contest and is (+650) to win as well (+200 to reach Finals), but he also has the second-lowest 3-point shooting percentage of the eight at 35.7%. The worst belongs to the Knicks’ Randle at 33.8%. 

I’m backing Hield to join Larry Bird (three), Craig Hodges (three), Mark Price, Hornacek, Peja Stojaković, and Jason Kapono as at least two-time winners of this competition. 

NBA Finalist Picks: Lillard (-120), Hield (+120), Sacramento’s Kevin Huerter (+175) at top online sportsbooks

*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.