2012 NBA All-Star Game: Odds on Who Will Dunk First and Dunk the Most

Tom Firme@TFirmeAnalyst IIFebruary 26, 2012

2012 NBA All-Star Game: Odds on Who Will Dunk First and Dunk the Most

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    Two things are for sure in the NBA All-Star game this Sunday. The All-Star game will feature a ton of scoring. Second, the All-Star game will see numerous dunks.

    The NBA All-Star game typically features little defense and a ton of scoring. Since the ABA-NBA merger, both teams have scored more than 110 points in each game. A total of 28 of the 35 games since the merger have seen the winning team score 130 or more points.

    Anyway, the All-Star game is showtime. Players forsake fundamentals and play above the rim. Frequently, players will go off the dribble or run across court for an uncontested dunk.

    Fans will be watching to see Kobe Bryant and LeBron James slam it home. Also, fans will be watching to see if their favorite player or a player from their favorite team will drive in a dunk.

    Having said that, it'll be interesting to see who will dunk the most and who will dunk first. To answer those questions, one will look at the players who may be most likely to play a high number of minutes and demand the ball.

LeBron James

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    Eighth NBA All-Star Game Appearance

    All-Star MVP Awards: 2

    Key All-Star Stats: 24.4 PPG, 51.1% FG, 19.3 FGAPG, 30.9 MPG

    Key 2011-12 Stats: 27.4 PPG, 54.7% FG, 18.1 FGAPG, 36.42 MPG

    LeBron James gets a prime opportunity to market his brand at the All-Star game. He can take over games and impose his will when he wants to. Also, he plays above the rim whenever the opportunity arises.

    James' statistics are some of the most impressive around. The active leader in points per game (27.7), James is third in that category this year. He takes the fifth-most field-goal attempts per game.

    He has the fourth-highest usage rate in the league (32 percent), which shows that he'll demand the ball a fair amount.

    That he'll demand the ball in the All-Star game can be expected. James' All-Star playing time in his career has been enormous. Also, he takes more shots in the All-Star game than in regular season games.

    Thus, expect him to make a few highlight-worthy dunks on Sunday.

    Odds for the first dunk: 3-1

    Odds for the most dunks: 4-1

Kevin Durant

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    Third All-Star Appearance

    Key All-Star Stats: 24.5 PPG, 48.6% FG, 18.5 FGAPG, 25 MPG

    Key 2011-12 Stats: 27.9 PPG, 51.3% FG, 19.3 FGAPG, 38 MPG

    Kevin Durant is one of the best and brightest stars in the league. Durant led the league in scoring the last two years. This year, he's trailing Kobe Bryant by half a point per game. He led the league in field-goal attempts per game two years ago. This year, he's trailing only Bryant in that category.

    Durant demands the ball often. Not only does he take a high number of shots, but he also touches the ball often. He's fifth in usage rate (31.4 percent). Standing second in win shares (6.6), Durant makes his presence felt in practically any game.

    In last year's All-Star game, Durant was a huge presence, scoring 34 points on 11-of-23 shooting. Expect him to put on a show again.

    Odds for first dunk: 5-2

    Odds for most dunks: 3-1

Dwight Howard

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    Sixth All-Star Appearance

    Key All-Star Stats: 14.2 PPG, 67.2% FG, 9.4 FGAPG, 3.2 ORPG, 25.4 MPG

    Key 2011-12 Stats: 20.1 PPG, 55.4% FG, 13.3 FGAPG, 3.6 ORPG, 38.3 MPG

    Dwight Howard generally lets the game come to him. He plays his role in the post, leading the way in scoring for the Orlando Magic and grabbing rebounds on both ends. His numbers don't dictate that the ball absolutely must come to him. This is the first season in which he's ranked in the top 10 in field-goal attempts, and he's only eighth.

    That doesn't tend for him to take a ton of shots in the All-Star game, nor does it hint that he'll jam it much.

    Even more discouraging for Howard in the race for the most dunks in the All-Star game is that, unlike LeBron James, he takes significantly fewer shots and scores much less in the All-Star game.

    Howard's knack for grabbing offensive boards will gain him an extra dunk, but won't help him much.

    Odds for the first dunk: 20-1

    Odds for the most dunks: 20-1

Kobe Bryant

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    14th All-Star Selection (13th All-Star Appearance)

    4 All-Star MVP Awards

    Key All-Star Stats: 20.3 PPG, 50.3% FG, 2.1 ORPG, 16.8 FGAPG, 27.3 MPG

    Key 2011-12 Stats: 28.4 PPG, 43.5% FG, 1.2 ORPG, 23.7 FGAPG, 38.2 MPG

    Kobe Bryant plays harder than anyone in the NBA. He fights harder to win, and he'll shoot his team to victory often. Bryant leads the league in scoring, field-goal attempts and usage rate (37.6 percent).

    Bryant's competitive nature leads him to take over games.

    He's done it in the All-Star game. Three times he's scored more than 30 points in an All-Star game. Last year, he put up 37 to tie Bob Petit for the most All-Star MVP awards. Bryant works the offensive glass much more in the All-Star Game, getting 0.9 more offensive rebounds than in the regular season.

    That's helped by an amazing 10 offensive boards in last year's All-Star Game.

    Those offensive rebounds will help him get more dunks.

    Bryant will be battling LeBron James for the spotlight. He'll likely look to show that he's still the biggest and best star in the league. Part of that will mean trying to get the most highlight-reel dunks. Bryant will be fighting James for the most touches of any player on the floor—and the most dunks.

    Expect him to battle James and Kevin Durant for the most dunks. Since Bryant doesn't have too many years left, he has to try to take over the All-Star game while he still can. The question is whether he can keep up with the younger two, who at this point in time are more athletic than Bryant.

    Odds for the first dunk: 3-1

    Odds for the most dunks: 5-1

Carmelo Anthony

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    Fifth All-Star Appearance

    Key All-Star Stats: 18.3 PPG, 54.7% FG, 3 ORPG, 16 FGAPG, 24.8 MPG

    Key 2011-12 Stats: 21.4 PPG, 39.7% FG, 1.4 ORPG, 18.4 FGAPG, 34.2 MPG

    Carmelo Anthony is one of the biggest scoring stars in the league. He'll demand the ball and demand to be the one to score. He's been in the top 10 in field-goal attempts five times and top 10 in scoring average six times.

    He expects being the offensive star on his team, regardless of what the world thinks of some upstart player like Jeremy Lin. He's in the top 10 in usage rate every year. This year, he's fourth in that department (31.9 percent).

    Anthony's All-Star games have been hit or miss. He scored in double figures in his first three, but scored only eight points last year while shooting 4-of-10. He does shoot 15 percent better from the field in the All-Star game.

    That hints that he'll take a good number of dunks. Anthony might not demand the ball as much as Kobe Bryant or LeBron James, but he'll get his share of touches and dunks. Expect him to show up on the highlight reel, but not as much as Bryant or James.

    Odds for first dunk: 8-1

    Odds for most dunks: 10-1

Blake Griffin

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    Second All-Star Appearance

    Key All-Star Stats: 8 PTS, 4-of-6 FG, 2 OR, 15 MIN (2011 All-Star Game)

    Key 2011-12 Stats: 21.4 PPG, 53.9% FG, 16.3 FGAPG, 3.3 ORPG, 36.8 MPG

    In his second season, Blake Griffin is one of the rising stars in the league. A year after being named the Rookie of the Year, Griffin is ninth in scoring average, eighth in field-goal percentage and sixth in field-goal attempts.

    He's one of the premier inside scorers already. He'll demand the ball a fair amount.

    Last year, Griffin didn't make a ton of noise in his first All-Star appearance. This year, he'll likely attract more attention in his first All-Star game start.

    He shoots less than every player on this list except for Dwight Howard. Thus, Griffin likely won't dunk as much as others. Still, he'll get a few dunks and make his appearance on SportsCenter after the game.

    Odds for first dunk: 12-1

    Odds for most dunks: 15-1