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Best NBA 3-Point Contest Bets: Anybody But Steph

  • The NBA 3-Point Contest will start right after the Skills Competition, which begins at 6:30 PM ET on TNT
  • There will be a small field this year with just six participants
  • Stephen Curry is a huge favorite, with odds as low as +110

With just one game in five days, it’s a slow stretch for basketball bettors, but we’ve got our best NBA 3-point contest bets to try to fill the void.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first here; one-way markets such as this usually have a high hold. This market is no exception. With a 25% hold percentage on DraftKings Sportsbook at the time of writing, it appears like it would be hard to find value here at first glance.

However, much of that hold is concentrated in the odds for just one player, and that means there still may be value on the other shooters. Let’s dig in to the odds.

Note: We’re hitting our NBA prop bets this year at 61.8% for a profit of +38.18 Units. Come join our Premium Slack community today for daily picks in NBA, MLB, NFL, and more!

Best NBA 3-Point Contest Bets

Curry is Overvalued

Above, I mentioned the hold percentage – the amount the sportsbook can expect to win or “hold” based on the implied probability of all the odds they offer – so how exactly is that distributed?

PlayerOddsImplied odds
Stephen Curry+11047.62%
Donovan Mitchell+45018.18%
Zach LaVine+50016.67%
Mike Conley+50016.67%
Jayson Tatum+65013.33%
Jaylen Brown+70012.50%

Curry’s odds of +110 translates to a whopping 47.62% implied probability of him winning the contest. The odds of the other players in the contest only combine for 77.35% implied probability. So although there may be a fairly high hold percentage on this market, it is so heavily weighted towards one player that there may still be value elsewhere.

Should Curry really be such a prohibitive favorite here? History tells us he shouldn’t.

Historical Performance

Let’s start again with a couple of obvious disclaimers. This is an event that happens just once a year and has ever-changing variables. The number of participants is in constant flux, they’ve added “money balls” and a “Dew Zone” which can add extra points, and the field of participants changes every year.

In other words, we’re dealing with a very small sample without a lot of continuity.

So what have the winners have looked like over the past 10 years?

SeasonPlayer# of eventsSeason 3P%Career 3P%Field SizeSeason RankCareer Rank
2019–20Buddy Hield239.4%40.6%844
2018–19Joe Harris147.4%43.8%1012
2017–18Devin Booker238.3%35.5%757
2016–17Eric Gordon137.2%36.8%876
2015–16Klay Thompson242.5%41.9%832
2014–15Stephen Curry444.3%43.3%821
2013–14Marco Belinelli143.0%37.6%815
2012–13Kyrie Irving139.1%39.1%644
2011–12Kevin Love137.2%37.0%655
2010–11James Jones142.9%40.1%622

Past experience does not appear to provide an edge, with six of the winners doing it on their first try, despite a nearly 50/50 split of experienced and first-time participants over the years.

Even a player’s career or in-season 3-point field goal percentage doesn’t seem to matter all that much, with the average winner falling right in the middle of the pack.

Curry has been a great 3-point shooter throughout his career, but in six previous attempts that has only translated to one win back in 2015. This will be a smaller field than usual, and Curry is likely the best shooter in it, however history has shown the best shooter hasn’t been winning at anything remotely close to 47.62% of the time.

2021 Contenders

So how do the 2021 contenders stack up?

SeasonPlayer# of eventsSeason 3P%Career 3P%Field SizeSeason RankCareer Rank
2020–21Stephen Curry741.1%43.3%631
2020–21Donovan Mitchell038.2%36.0%656
2020–21Zach LaVine243.5%38.4%613
2020–21Mike Conley542.2%37.8%624
2020–21Jayson Tatum036.9%39.5%662
2020–21Jaylen Brown038.8%37.3%645

Curry is clearly the best career shooter of the bunch, however both Zach Lavine and Mike Conley have shot better this year, albeit on a lower volume of shots.

What the historical results show us though is that it might not matter much who is the best shooter. While a smaller field and just two rounds may reduce variance a bit, in the three years of our sample with six contestants, the winner was below average relative to the rest of the field.

Best Bets

You can find analysis elsewhere breaking down each player’s ideal moneyball locations, their release times, and any manner of other stats. It’s not clear from past years that superiority in any of these stats provides a significant edge though, so we’re going to fade the best shooter in the field.

At +500 odds, it’s implied that a player has a one in six chance of winning, or essentially a random event in a six-man field. While skill almost definitely gives a small edge here, I think the winner is much closer to random than the odds on Curry would indicate, so we’ll target players at +500 or better.

We’ll also keep our bets small, since the edge here is likely a small one, and go with one mid-range player, and one longer shot.

Zach LaVine +500 to win (DraftKings), risk 0.25 Units

Jayson Tatum +750 to win (FanDuel), risk 0.25 Units

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