2023 NBA All-Star Skills Challenge Odds Analysis: How to Bet It and Why Team Jazz Will Win

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Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 dunks the ball during the 2022 NBA All-Star Game on February 20, 2022. Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images/AFP

NBA Pick: Team Jazz (-120) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Team Jazz (-120)
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The deck is stacked for Saturday’s All-Star Skills Challenge, and Team Jazz is the deserving favorite on the NBA odds board. 

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

NBA All-Star 2023 Skills Challenge

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


It hardly seems fair. Saturday’s NBA All-Star Weekend Skills Challenge (Saturday, February 18th, 08:00 PM EST, on TNT) features three teams of three, running around the court and showing off their stuff at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City.

Here’s what Bovada Sportsbook has on their NBA odds board at press time: 

  • Team Jazz: Jordan Clarkson, Walker Kessler, Collin Sexton (–120) 
  • Team Rooks: Paolo Banchero, Jaden Ivey, Jabari Smith Jr. (+130) 
  • Team Antetokounmpo: Brothers Giannis, Thanasis, and Alex (+475) 

Once upon a time, I would have said there’s not much difference between any of the participants at the Skills Challenge, but look at these teams.

Tell me they’re not setting up the hometown trio for an easy lay-up this Saturday. Of course, I’m putting Team Jazz in my All-Star NBA picks

What Is the Skills Challenge? 

It’s not what it used to be.

When this contest was introduced in 2003, it was four-point guards navigating an obstacle course where they had to dribble around pylons and make various shots and passes as quickly as possible. Jason Kidd won that year in 35.1 seconds. 

It seemed like the NBA had found a simple enough event to mix in with the Slam Dunk Contest and the Three-Point Contest.

But they kept messing with the formula. In 2014, they changed it to four teams of two players each; in 2015, they switched to a tournament bracket, and in 2016, they started letting frontcourt players participate. 

The next big shift was last year’s Challenge, where they chucked everything out the window and made it three teams of three players apiece, with the skills split up into 3 separate rounds:

  • Round 1: Shooting
  • Round 2: Passing
  • Round 3: Team Relay

There seems to be some confusion about the “fourth” round. For last year’s competition, half-court shots were planned as a tie-breaker to decide the winner.

Some outlets now have that round as the official final round for this year’s event, with the top two teams from the first three rounds participating, but NBA.com says it’s still a tie-breaker. Glad we cleared that up. 

Who Won Last Year’s Skills Challenge? 

I’ll give you a hint: The host venue was Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland.

That’s right, it was Team Cavs getting the win, represented by Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen. 

The other two teams were cobbled together in much the same fashion as this year’s Challenge, with Team Rooks consisting of Scottie Barnes, Cade Cunningham, and Josh Giddey, and the same three Antetokounmpos participating. Where’s Kostas? Oh, he signed with Fenerbahce SK two months ago. All righty then. 

Anyway, you can see why Team Jazz is the clear favorite here. No disrespect meant to the three rookies involved here, but their skills are obviously not as sharp – they’re rookies, after all. And unless they clone two more Giannises for Team Antetokounmpo, I’m afraid they just don’t measure up. 

Should I Bet My Entire Life Savings on Team Jazz? 

Let’s not be too hasty. Anything can happen out there on the hardwood; last year’s Challenge went to the tie-breaker, where Mobley sank his first shot to win it all for Team Cavs. 

There’s enough potential for chaos with the other three rounds as well, especially the relay, which looks and cooks a lot more like the original Challenge format. However, team chemistry does appear to matter in the passing round; last year, the Cavs expertly weaved their way through, while the Rooks and Antetokounmpos kept bumping into each other. 

Maybe the brothers from Greece will learn from last year’s follies and use that experience to their advantage. Then again, maybe everyone learned something from the first Challenge under the new format.

We’ll soon find out. 

Is the Skills Challenge a Work? 

I wouldn’t take it that far. This isn’t professional wrestling or a banana republic election; Mobley still had to sink that half-court shot for Team Cavs to win last year, and even today’s amazing players can’t do that 100 times out of 100. 

Having said that, sure, it’s pretty obvious the league created this format with last year’s result in mind – and they’d be nuts to have the half-court shots as an “official” round of the competition as opposed to a tie-breaker, even if it was really cool the way things worked out in Cleveland. 
The Skills Challenge is the opening act for All-Star Saturday, followed by the Three-Point Contest and the Dunk Contest.

It’s a great way for the league to get the home crowd involved, so bet accordingly, and may the sphere be with you. 

NBA Pick: Team Jazz (–120) at Bovada 

*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.