You never forget your first time, so the first time an NBA player is named an all-star is a big deal. Considering this year’s potential first-timers – there were six last year – the story in New York has a very Villanova feel to it with the Knicks’ Jalen Brunson and the Nets’ Mikal Bridges.
EmpireStakes.com – your source for NY sports betting – developed hypothetical odds for players in line to make their first NBA All-Star Game appearance Feb. 18 in Indianapolis.
Odds for First-Time NBA All-Stars
Sixers’ Maxey Heads the List
With the breakout season he’s having about 100 miles to the south, Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey (27 points per game and nearly seven assists) is the runaway favorite to make his first all-star appearance. Right now, the shocker would be if Maxey isn’t an all-star.
With the second-best chance is Toronto Raptors small forward Scottie Barnes, who’s averaging nearly 20 ppg and shooting over 38% from three – not bad for a guy 6-9. Our odds also say it’s more than likely that Oklahoma City Thunder unicorn Chet Holmgren and the Houston Rockets’ Alperen Sengun will be first-time all-stars.
The 21-year-old Holmgren’s scoring stats are similar to Barnes’ numbers, and he’s 7-1. Sengun is a 6-11 big from Turkey – also 21 – who’s averaging more than 20 points and nine boards this season.
Then we get to Brunson, a relative NBA grandfather at 27, and our fifth choice with odds slightly better than 50/50. Bridges, also 27 and Brunson’s college teammate and fellow two-time national champion, is in 8th place with odds of around 5-to-1.
In his second season with the Knicks, Brunson is averaging a career high in points (24.6 ppg) and three-point shooting (44.6%) and guiding the Knicks to a 13-9 record. FanDuelNY has the Knicks at -450 to make the playoffs, +330 to miss.
Across the bridge in Brooklyn, Bridges’ scoring (23.1 ppg) is a bit down from last season’s time with the Nets, but his shooting percentage, rebounds and assists are all up. With Kevin Durant again hurt, the trade is looking like a win for the Nets, who sit at 12-10, a game behind the Knicks in the Eastern Division.
In between Brunson and Bridges are Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane and Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero. The 6-5 Bane, still only 25, seems to improve every year and a few head-turning games like his 49 points against the Pistons could get him more all-star consideration. Working against him is Memphis’s surprising 6-16 record. Helping Banchero is Orlando’s 16-7 record and his team’s stellar defense. Banchero, who’s averaging 20 and seven, also has shown a lot of improvement in his shooting and passing.
San Antonio Spurs phenom Victor Wembanyama is our ninth choice, behind Bridges on our list. Wemby, 19, has been averaging a double-double, but the 3-19 Spurs have been terrible on defense and it’s hard to be an all-star from one of the league’s worst teams.
Wembanyama is second to Holmgren at Bet MGM NY in Rookie of the Year odds. Wemby is at +110 and Holmgren is -160. It is a two-player race as the third-place odds for Miami’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. shoot up to +4000.
Rounding out the Top 10 is Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray. Last season’s playoffs showed what a star Murray is – the only thing keeping him off an all-star team are missing games and the greatness of Nikola Jokic.