NBA Skills Challenge Preview: Rookies Have Edge on Saturday Night

Check out how the Action Network's NBA analysts are betting Saturday night's NBA Skills Challenge.

NBA Skills Challenge Odds

Team Odds
Team Rookies -120
Team Cavaliers +200
Team Antetokounmpo +350
Odds as of Saturday and via Caesars.

The NBA skills challenge is undergoing a makeover, so things will look a bit different on Saturday night.

Three teams comprised of three players each will compete in four separate rounds and the two teams that amass the most points in Rounds 1-3 move on to the final round. Click here for a more detailed breakdown.

Here’s how our two NBA analysts see this competition playing out.

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Brandon Anderson

Pick Team Rooks (-120)
Book Caesars

We’re getting a new format for this contest, and though I like the teams of threes in theory, I have a feeling this could be long and dreadful. We’re getting three rounds for all three teams, and each player has to compete each round. That means every guy here has to shoot, pass, and handle. And it means I absolutely love Team Rookies here.

Look, it’s not hard to figure out which trio has the most skill here if we’re looking for a rounded skill set. The Cavs team has two centers, and Team Antetokounmpo has, well, three Antetokounmpos. The Rookies have Cade Cunningham, Scottie Barnes, and Josh Giddey, all of whom are terrific passers and handlers, and it’s easily the best shooting trio too.

I think the rooks are a mortal lock to make the finals, which is essentially a half-court shot coin flip. Who knows what happens from there, but that means Team Rookies should be closer to +100, so you can still find them at +160 or any serious plus juice like I did earlier this week, it’s an easy play.

Since these lines moved, though, I’d likely stay away from anything higher than the current number.

Malik Smith

Pick Team Rooks (-120)
Book Caesars

There are so many changes this year and this is the event I feel needed change the least. The skills comp was sneakily becoming my favorite of the three events but now it’s a team competition. As much as I don’t like the team format, I think Brandon is right about the composition of each squad.

Add in the fact that there are rounds and it’s a very different ballgame than it had been for seasons past. There are two rounds that require shooting, including the final round, and the Rooks have the most well-rounded group from that standpoint since they have two players shooting above 30% with Cade Cunningham and Scottie Barnes.

Alex Antetokounmpo is technically is the best shooter among his brothers (45%), but he has attempted 11 3-pointers in the G League. Darius Garland is the best shooter for the Cavaliers but Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley are essentially non-factors. The Rooks also have the most nimble group considering the Cavs have two big men on their team. Barnes has a bigger frame but he can handle the ball and passes well fora guy his size.

It stinks that so much of the value has already been lost on the Rookies in this event. But I agree that they are in the driver’s seat to win this thing. I’ll take a small stab, but wouldn’t go beyond -125.