Handicapping the NBA: All-Star DFS Picks + Betting Notes
Handicapping the NBA: All-Star DFS Picks + Betting Notes

This article is part of our Handicapping the NBA series.

The fantasy basketball world may be on hold for the week, but both FanDuel and DraftKings are offering single-game contests for Sunday night's All-Star Game in Chicago.

Let's take a look at the format and prices and highlight some of the top values on each slate. We'll also dive into betting strategy for All-Star Saturday night, as well as the All-Star Game MVP.

Players to Consider: FanDuel

FanDuel's single-game format employs a four-tiered system with an MVP (2x points), a Star (1.5x), a Pro (1.2x) and two UTIL (no multipliers) spots. Player salaries do not change based on where they're placed in the lineup, but the prices are inherently higher given the smaller rosters.

In an All-Star Game, there's really no such thing as a rotation, so it's considerably more of a guessing game than a typical NBA DFS contest. Even the top-tier players are typically capped around 25-to-28 minutes. Last year, Steph Curry led all players in minutes (29), while every player on each team played at least 10 minutes, with the exception of Anthony Davis (5 minutes) and Dirk Nowitzki (4 minutes). Usually, five or six players on each team play 20-to-28 minutes, while the rest see 11-to-19 minutes.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Team Giannis ($15,500)

The reigning NBA MVP is the favorite to take home the All-Star Game MVP for a reason. He probably should be gunning for his second straight MVP after putting up 38 points and 11 rebounds in 27 minutes a year ago. Antetokounmpo is the safest bet to rack up both points and boards, and while overall effort is always a question mark in an All-Star Game, that's not necessarily the case for Giannis.

LeBron James, Team LeBron ($15,000)

James checks in at just $500 cheaper than Antetokounmpo, and it's very possible to stack the pair as your MVP and Star. James played 27 minutes in last year's All-Star Game and led his team in field goal attempts (17). Though he hit just 1-of-8 three-pointers, James still managed 19 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Chances are, he shoots the three at a much better clip this time around. For his All-Star career (15 games), James is averaging 24.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists.

Russell Westbrook, Team LeBron ($14,000)

If there's a player you never worry about bringing it in an All-Star Game, it's Westbrook. An eight-time All-Star and two-time All-Star Game MVP, Westbrook has attempted at least 20 field goals in four of his last five appearances, including an 8-for-20 showing in just 19 minutes a year ago. He topped 40 points in both 2015 and 2017 – the latter of which came in less than 20 minutes. So while Westbrook will come off the bench for Team LeBron, a slightly lesser workload than the starters isn't a major concern. However, the star power on Team LeBron could mean more evenly distributed production. After Antetokounmpo at $15,500, the next six highest-priced players are all on Team LeBron.

Chris Paul, Team LeBron ($7,000)

Making his return to the All-Star Game for the first time in three years, Paul is yet another big name on Team LeBron. He'll come off the bench behind James Harden and Luka Doncic, but at this price, Paul is an excellent value. He has a long history of productive All-Star Games – particularly as a distributor. Paul has handed out at least 12 assists in seven of his eight All-Star appearances, and he has five games with at least 14 assists.

Khris Middleton, Team Giannis ($6,000)

Middleton is the lowest-priced player on the entire slate, which is somewhat of a surprise after he erupted for 20 points off the bench a year ago. Antetokounmpo's first pick of the reserve draft for a second straight All-Star Game, Middleton should fill a similar role (22 minutes last year), and while he may not hit six threes, he's a strong choice for a UTIL spot at this price.

Players to Consider: DraftKings

DraftKings will use its traditional Showdown format Sunday night, with one captain (1.5x points) and five Utility spots. Unlike FanDuel, player salaries increase by 150% if they're used in the Captain spot. But with eight players priced between $8,000 and $9,600, the options are plenty, and it's not a salary-killer to use an ultra-elite player like Antetokounmpo or James.

Antetokounmpo and James are the obvious choices for the Captain spot, but Westbrook and Anthony Davis are all appealing, as well.

James Harden, Team LeBron ($9,200 base salary)

Given the way Harden plays, he's always liable to go off, but traditionally he's struggled, to some degree, in All-Star Games. A starter each of the last three years, Harden has scored exactly 12 points in all three games on a combined 13-of-41 shooting (10-35 3PT). Maybe this is the year he snaps out of the extended slump, but if I'm using Harden, it won't be in the Captain slot.

Anthony Davis, Team LeBron ($9,000)

Last year's game was at the height of Davis' very public feud with the Pelicans, and while he ended up playing in the game, he saw only five minutes of action at the end of the first quarter before sitting the rest of the game. Davis has a hit-or-miss history in All-Star Games, but keep in mind that he's only three years removed from setting the All-Star scoring record with a 52-point, 10-rebound performance on his then-home floor in New Orleans. For what it's worth, in five appearances, Davis has never recorded a block logged just one assist.

Trae Young, Team Giannis (8,400)

The second-highest-priced player on Team Giannis, Young mostly took it easy while pulling double-duty in Friday night's Rising Stars Game. My guess is he's saving his best for the main event, and he should have plenty of opportunity as a starter on the team with vastly fewer playmakers and primary ball-handlers. Young will have Donovan Mitchell, Jimmy Butler, Khris Middleton and Kyle Lowry coming off the bench behind him, but that pales in comparison to a Team LeBron roster that features Harden, Westbrook, Doncic, Kawhi Leonard, Nikola Jokic and Ben Simmons.

Betting Notes

All-Star Game MVP

Antetokounmpo is the most likely winner, so there's a reason he's the favorite at +400. But getting a player who put up 38 and 11 last season at 4-to-1 is pretty solid value. He's the most obvious bet, but for Antetokounmpo to win, his team absolutely needs to win the game. No player since Magic Johnson in 1990 has taken home the MVP on a losing team.

The players with the four-next-highest odds are James, Davis, Westbrook and Doncic, who, of course, are all on the same team. From a value perspective, I like Westbrook (+1000) the most of that foursome for many of the reasons listed above. Plus, there's the risk that Doncic could face some minor limitations after playing just one healthy game prior to the break. I would consider avoiding Joel Embiid for similar reasons, as he hasn't looked nearly fully healthy since returning from a hand injury.

Digging deeper, Trae Young at 25-to-1 is a decent bet considering he could very well end up as the No. 1 option – if there is such a thing in an All-Star Game – behind Antetokounmpo. At the end of the day, though, if Team Giannis wins, it's tough to imagine the namesake not taking home the hardware.

Three-Point Shootout

Joe Harris: +450

Duncan Robinson: +500

Trae Young: +500

Devin Booker: +500

Davis Bertans: +550

Buddy Hield: +600

Zach LaVine: +1000

Devonte' Graham: +1400

Value-wise, I like Bertans at +550. Harris won the event last year, but no one has gone back-to-back since Jason Kapono in 2007 and 2008. The only other back-to-back winner in recent history is Peja Stojakovic (2003, 2003). Bertans hasn't competed before, but as a catch-and-shoot specialist, he has the playing style of an off-the-rack shooter.

Both Hield and Booker have competed in the past, with Booker taking home the crown in Los Angeles two years ago. 

A new wrinkle this year are the "Dew Zone Shots." Each player will get two attempts from zones located six feet beyond the three-point arc, with each shot worth three points for a maximum of six bonus points. To compensate for the extra shots, players will now have 65 seconds to complete the circuit. 

When you think of deep threes, Young is the name who comes to mind out of this group. The Dew Zone probably benefits him most, though there's some concern about how he'll handle off-the-rack shooting.

Skills Challenge

Spencer Dinwiddie: +450

Khris Middleton: +450

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: +500

Jayson Tatum: +500

Patrick Beverley: +600

Pascal Siakam: +600

Bam Adebayo: +1000

Domantas Sabonis: +1000

Every year, the Skills Challenge is a complete toss-up. In good faith, I can't recommend anyone for a contest that often comes down to passing a ball through a cylinder or hitting a single three-pointer. Players of all sizes, positions and skill sets have won this in the recent past, including Jayson Tatum, Kristaps Porzingis, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Patrick Beverley. If you're feeling frisky, maybe toss a few bucks on Adebayo or Sabonis at 10-to-1 just for fun.

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Nick Whalen
RotoWire's NBA Editor and host of the RotoWire NBA Podcast. Nick was awarded the FSWA Best Podcast -- All Sports award in 2017 and 2018. Many years ago, Stromile Swift gave Nick his unbelievably sweaty headband after a preseason game. Despite its failure to match his school colors, Nick went on to wear that headband for the entirety of his sixth grade basketball season. Catch Nick on Twitter @wha1en.
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