NBA Skills Challenge Picks: "Not Gonna Rook Us"

Hometown Team Jazz is favored but Team Rooks is the most well-rounded. See why fading the chalk is your best play with our NBA Skills Challenge picks for betting All-Star Saturday.

Last Updated: Feb 17, 2023 1:28 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
Paolo Banchero NBA
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The NBA All-Star Weekend is an annual showcase, and with the league looking to keep things interesting, we've seen some changes to events in recent years. 

Last year, the skills competition went from an individual event to a clash between three teams of three players. That format will continue in 2023 and NBA betting odds are on the board for the event. 

Team Jazz features three members of the hometown team and is the odds-on favorite at -130. Team Rooks is made up of three of the best rookies in the league and is just behind at +150 with the Antetokounmpo brothers way behind at +500. 

Here’s my breakdown of each team and my best bet for the 2023 NBA Skills Competition. 

NBA Skills Challenge odds

Team Odds
Team Jazz -130
Team Rooks +150
Team Antetokounmpo +500

Odds courtesy of bet365, February 17, 2023.

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NBA Skills Challenge rules

Round 1 features a team relay, Round 2 involves passing, and Round 3 is "Team Shooting". The team with the most "Challenge Points" following the three rounds will be crowned the winner. If tied at the end of three rounds, a half-court shootout will determine first place. 

For a full breakdown of the event check out the page at  

Skills Challenge participants    

Team Jazz (-130)

      • Jordan Clarkson
      • Walker Kessler
      • Collin Sexton

It's easy to see why Team Jazz is the favorite here. They will be motivated to put on a show in front of their home fans and dynamic guards Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton should do extremely well in each round.

Kessler is the weak link here, and while the 7-foot rookie has impressed with his rebounding and shot-blocking prowess, he isn't exactly known for his ability to run the floor or shoot. 

Team Rooks (+150)

This should be a highly-entertaining squad made up of the Rookie of the Year favorite Banchero and a couple of other productive first-year players in Ivey and Smith. 

Ivey seems tailor-made for this event with his athleticism, ball handling, and ability to pull up from anywhere. However, even big men like Banchero and Smith are able to run the floor and shoot from long range.

Team Antetokounmpo (+500)

Team Antetokounmpo is practically an afterthought in this event at +500. While they have a year of experience after competing (and finishing in last place) in 2022, this is a squad that pales in comparison to the others. 

Although Giannis is one of the best players in the world, Thanasis rarely leaves the pine for the Bucks while the youngest brother Alex is just a bit player in the G League.

NBA Skills Challenge pick

Team Rooks (+150)

I'm kicking Team Antetokounmpo to the curb immediately. In an event like this, you're only as good as your weakest link, and this team has two of them with a G-Leaguer and a bench-rider making up the squad. While they are extremely athletic and can run the floor, they will really struggle in the shooting portion of the event since even Giannis isn't exactly known for his silky smooth jumper.

When comparing the other two teams, Kessler's presence will be tough for Team Jazz to overcome. This is a guy that knocked down just 11 treys in his college career (at a 20% clip) and has yet to hit a three in the NBA while shooting just 54.4% from the charity stripe. He'll also hurt them in the passing category and likely won't be much help in the running event either. 

Team Rooks is simply the better all-around unit and is made up of a bunch of hungry first-year players who will be excited to be included in this event. Being able to take them at plus money makes them the side to put your money on. 

Past Skills Challenge Winners

Year Team
2022 Timberwolves Team Cavs 
2021 Warriors Domontas Sabonis
2020 Kings Bam Adebayo
2019 Browns Jayson Tatum
2018 Suns Spencer Dinwiddie
2017 Rockets Kristaps Porzingis
2016 Warriors Karl-Anthony Towns
2015 Warriors Patrick Beverley
2014 CavsDamian Lillard /CavsTrey Burke 
2013 Cavs Damian Lillard

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