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NBA All-Star Draft Props: Will Luka Doncic Be the No. 1 Pick?


It’s March, which means the NBA All-Star break is right around the corner. Everything looks a little bit different this year thanks to the NBA’s truncated 72-game schedule. We normally have All-Star Weekend in February, but we’re now looking at a brief hiatus in the second week of March.

While I’ll miss betting on basketball as much as anybody over the course of the five-day stoppage, at least this March won’t look like last March. For that, we can all be grateful.

While the All-Star break brings limited betting opportunities, there are still some ways get some action on the festivities. The NBA is still using its fantasy draft format for the All-Star Game, which means the two leading vote-getters will pick their teams. The league only utilized the standard East-West format in order to determine the specific players, but the captains will select their own teams.

This year’s captains are Kevin Durant and LeBron James. Durant won’t play in the game itself because of a hamstring issue, but he’ll still be assuming the role of honorary general manager. The All-Star draft itself will take place on Thursday, just a few days before Sunday’s main event. And, yes, you can actually bet on the All-Star draft at has posted a number of props regarding which players will be selected by Durant and James, respectively. This is admittedly a bit of a crapshoot, but crapshoots can be fun. Let’s sift through the available bets and dig up some value ahead of All-Star Weekend.

Which European Star Will Be Picked First?

  • Luka Doncic (-140)
  • Nikola Jokic (+100)

Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic won’t be confused for the most athletic players in the NBA any time soon, but these two European products are two of the game’s brightest young stars. Doncic will be making his second consecutive All-Star appearance, while Jokic is set to play in the game for the third straight year.

LeBron drafted both of the Euros as an All-Star captain last year. It’ll be fascinating to see which of them goes first. Luka was LeBron’s third overall selection last year, but this year they’re both starters. Jokic would seem to be a better fit next to LeBron from a strict basketball perspective, but I get the feeling that James would prefer to use one of his premium selections on the Mavericks’ star instead.

Giannis Antetokounmpo may be the first player off the board, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Luka go second. Jokic is in the midst of an MVP-caliber season of his own, but the All-Star Game is more geared toward a player with Doncic’s skill-set. I’ll follow the odds and roll with Luka ahead of the Joker here.

Which European Star Will Be Picked First? –Doncic (-140)

Which Eastern Conference Swingman Goes First?

  • Bradley Beal (-175)
  • Jayson Tatum (+135)

Bradley Beal will be an All-Star starter for the first time, which is no small feat. He earned a starting nod as an Eastern Conference guard ahead of the likes of James Harden, Ben Simmons, Jaylen Brown, and Zach LaVine. Beal is leading the league in scoring average (33.2) as he attempts to propel the Wizards back into the playoff picture.

Jayson Tatum will also be starting for the first time. The Kentucky product has developed into one of the game’s premier all-around wings this season. Despite the Celtics’ struggles, Tatum is averaging career-highs in points (25.2) and rebounds (7) while logging nearly 36 minutes per game.

Bradley Beal finished with 46 points in the loss.

He’s now lost 11 straight games when scoring 40+ points, the longest streak in NBA history.

— ESPN (@espn) March 1, 2021

Tatum is great, but Beal is having a better individual campaign. Beal was voted in as a starter, while Tatum will be taking the starting spot of Durant. Could KD use one of his early picks on his direct replacement? It’s certainly possible. Frankly, I’m not convinced the odds should be skewed so heavily in Beal’s favor here. Take the opportunity to get the +135 value with Tatum. I could see Durant having a soft spot for the guy set to start in his place.

Which Eastern Conference Swingman Goes First? –Tatum (+135)

Which Big Man Gets Picked First?

  • Nikola Vucevic (-125)
  • Domantas Sabonis (-115)

Centers may not dominate the game the same way they did back in the ’90s, but there are still quite a few impressive centers populating the league these days. Two of the more unheralded big men in the game ply their respective crafts for Eastern Conference also-rans. Domantas Sabonis has become one of the most unique offensive weapons in the NBA for the Pacers, while Nikola Vucevic has done a little bit of everything this season for the Magic.

Sabonis was the very last pick of last year’s draft. He made his way to Team LeBron with the No. 22 overall selection. Vucevic didn’t appear in last year’s game, but this will be his second All-Star appearance. Vucevic was the 19th pick out of 22 two years ago by Team Giannis.

I’m not sure it matters which player is actually enjoying the better statistical season, but I think Vucevic does have an edge here when it comes to seniority. Vooch has been quietly going about his business in Orlando for years now, while Sabonis is relatively new on the scene. There isn’t much science behind this pick, but Vucevic just seems like the safer option at -125.

Which Big Man Gets Picked First? –Vucevic (-125)

Which Starter Will LeBron Pick First?

  • Luka Doncic (+200)
  • Kyrie Irving (+275)
  • Stephen Curry (+300)
  • Joel Embiid (+375)
  • Nikola Jokic (+375)
  • Kawhi Leonard (+500)
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo (+650)
  • Bradley Beal (+800)
  • Jayson Tatum (+1200)

LeBron has taken Anthony Davis first overall in each of the last two drafts, but AD isn’t in the player pool this year due to injury. The only starter in the pool with a direct link to LeBron is Kyrie Irving. Obviously, the two teamed up to lead the Cavs to their infamous title back in 2016.

LeBron surely sees a lot of himself in Luka, which makes Doncic an understandable favorite at +200. Doncic isn’t having quite as good a season as many expected, but that likely doesn’t factor too heavily into things. It would also make sense for James to give Steph Curry a look considering the admirable job Curry has done in leading the Warriors into playoff contention despite a rash of injuries this season. Steph missed last year’s game because of his own injury, but he’ll return for his seventh ASG this year.

The budding Lakers-Clippers rivalry makes Kawhi Leonard a pretty unlikely choice. Jokic, Beal, and Tatum feel like reaches with the first pick, as well. Irving is also directly linked with Durant as his teammate with the Nets. If KD gets the first pick, it would be pretty awkward if he picked anybody other than Kyrie.

As a result, LeBron is a pretty good bet to wind up with Antetokounmpo. I’m not entirely sure why Giannis is facing such long +650 odds here, but why wouldn’t LeBron jump at the chance to team up with the reigning two-time MVP? The Greek Freak looks like an awesome value at +650 to be James’ first pick.

Which Starter Will LeBron Pick First? –Antetokounmpo (+650)

Which Starter Will KD Choose First?

  • Stephen Curry (+200)
  • Kyrie Irving (+275)
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo (+300)
  • Joel Embiid (+350)
  • Bradley Beal (+340)
  • Luka Doncic (+550)
  • Kawhi Leonard (+650)
  • Nikola Jokic (+750)
  • Jayson Tatum (+1000)

Could Durant take Steph Curry and harken back to their days in Golden State together?

It would make a lot more sense if KD were actually going to play in this game. Because he’s not, though, I don’t really think that’s the most likely direction in which he goes with his first choice.

The Brooklyn Nets’ Big 3 — Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving — are a study in aesthetics, efficiency and the places they overlap.

📝: @HickoryHigh

— The Step Back (@The_Step_Back) March 1, 2021

As mentioned, Kyrie looks like the very obvious bet here. We know Irving is a temperamental fellow, so things could get dicey in the Nets’ locker room if KD takes anyone other than Kyrie with his first choice. Just like what we’ve seen with LeBron taking Davis No. 1 in each of the last two years, Kyrie looks like the clear-cut pick for Durant at +275. He can’t do his own teammate like that, right?

Which Starter Will KD Choose First? –Irving (+275)

Which Reserve Will James Pick First?

  • Damian Lillard (+200)
  • Chris Paul (+250)
  • James Harden (+300)
  • Zion Williamson (+400)
  • Donovan Mitchell (+500)
  • Devin Booker (+600)
  • Zach LaVine (+700)
  • Ben Simmons (+800)
  • Paul George (+1000)
  • Rudy Gobert (+1200)
  • Jaylen Brown (+1600)
  • Julius Randle (+1800)
  • Domantas Sabonis (+2000)
  • Nikola Vucevic (+2000)

Again, LeBron has none of his Lakers teammates from which to choose here, so he can go off the board a little bit. James has a longtime friendship with Chris Paul, so CP3 is certainly an intriguing selection to be LeBron’s first bench selection. However, don’t overlook the possibility that James spurns his buddy in favor of Paul’s own Suns teammate, Devin Booker. James was offended enough by Booker’s initial exclusion from the All-Star team to take to Twitter on Booker’s behalf just last week:

Devin Booker is the most disrespected player in our league!!! Simple as that.

— LeBron James (@KingJames) February 24, 2021

LeBron’s complaint may have ultimately helped Booker get the nod after all, but I’m still dubious that James would actually go for Booker with his first pick off the bench.

James Harden is the best actual player of those coming off the bench, but The Beard is another of KD’s teammates. LeBron could look to thwart Durant’s efforts to rebuild the Nets in the All-Star Game, but CP3 (+250) and Damian Lillard (+200) are more compelling favorites. Lillard seems to be quite well-respected by his peers, and James is keenly aware of the job Dame has done in keeping the shorthanded Trail Blazers afloat in the Western Conference.

There’s also some pride on the line in this game. The captains want to win. Lillard is known for his clutch gene, which could come in handy if the game comes down to the wire. That’s something LeBron would probably want on his side. Paul is a perfectly viable bet at +250 thanks to his friendship with James, but I bet Lillard is the first reserve off the board for Team LeBron.

Which Reserve Will James Pick First? –Lillard (+200)

Which Reserve Will Durant Pick First?

  • James Harden (-130)
  • Damian Lillard (+250)
  • Zion Williamson (+400)
  • Chris Paul (+600)
  • Devin Booker (+700)
  • Ben Simmons (+750)
  • Donovan Mitchell (+800)
  • Zach LaVine (+1000)
  • Rudy Gobert (+1200)
  • Paul George (+1400)
  • Jaylen Brown (+1600)
  • Domantas Sabonis (+2000)
  • Julius Randle (+2000)
  • Nikola Vucevic (+2000)

Harden is the best reserve available, and he’s Durant’s newest teammate in Brooklyn. Unless LeBron picks first and pulls a fast one, it’s hard to imagine Durant going anywhere else with his first pick of the bench players. You can pretty easily suggest that Harden is even undervalued here at the -130 odds at NBA betting sites. Assuming he’s on the board when Durant is on the clock, Harden is a total lock.

Which Reserve Will Durant Pick First? –Harden (-130)

Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu …

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