How to Bet the NBA’s “HORSE” Competition

By in NBA on
5 Minute Read
Harden Lilliard Curry NBA Shooters

The NBA has been desperately looking for ways to keep NBA fans entertained during the league’s extended hiatus. Last week, the league launched an NBA 2K20 tournament featuring 16 players going head-to-head in the popular video game from the comfort of their own homes. The event is being aired on ESPN and ESPN 2.

Now, the league and ESPN are reportedly working on creating a televised HORSE competition involving a number of prominent players. The league and ESPN have reportedly been engaged in negotiations with the league’s player’s association regarding the potential for a shot-for-shot tournament to be played from players’ home gyms.

It sounds as though this thing may really happen, though details are still scarce as of this writing. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski says the event would feature “several high-profile players,” though we have yet to hear any specific names confirmed. A schedule is still being finalized, as well.

While we don’t have many details as of yet, that doesn’t mean you can’t bet on the HORSE game already. In case you’re unfamiliar with the playground game, the rules are simple. It’s a shooting competition between two players. The rules, as posted on NBA.com, are as follows:

To begin the game, pick a player to go first. That player gets to do anything they want before shooting. If they want to spin around 5 times and then hop up and down before shooting, they can do it. They make the rules! If they hit their shot, the other players have to do the exact same thing. But if they miss, the next player gets to make up their own wacky shot for the others to try. Any player that can’t make the first person’s shot gets the letter H. Everyone keeps playing the game and making up crazy shots until someone misses enough times to spell out the word HORSE. The player who does not spell HORSE is the winner!

Easy enough, right? Bovada online sportsbook has already slapped odds on the hypothetical event. These bets are quite risky at this stage considering we don’t know who’s going to be participating, but we can do a little speculating.

Non-Shooters Will Struggle

Basketball is all about putting the ball through the hoop, but shooting is far from the only skill that makes for a quality NBA player. In fact, several of the best players to ever play the game weren’t exactly known for their long-range marksmanship. Shooting 3-pointers has become a more important skill with the way the NBA has evolved over the past few years, though.

It’s safe to assume the NBA knows this, and those known for their shooting prowess will probably be high on the league’s wish list when it comes to participants. Players like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, James Harden, Damian Lillard and Buddy Hield figure to fare well in the competition.

Giannis Antetokounmpo may be well on his way to his second consecutive league MVP award, but I doubt the Greek Freak would do all that well in this competition considering his limited shooting range. It’s also worth noting that Giannis has said that he doesn’t have access to a hoop at his home, so that figures to keep him out of the tournament altogether.

Andre Drummond may be dominating the 2K tournament, but he has attempted over 91 percent of his shots from within 10 feet of the basket this season. Guys like Drummond will likely struggle to compete with real shooters in a game of HORSE.

Betting Odds for NBA HORSE Competition

With no players having publicly committed to playing, Bovada has resorted to breaking down the potential winner based on division.

 Division of Winner Odds at Bovada
Pacific Division +400
Northwest Division +400
Southwest Division +400
Southeast Division +400
Atlantic Division +400
Central Division +400

Curry, Harden, LeBron James and Luka Doncic are a few of the “high-profile” players that come to mind when it comes to HORSE. All of them are obviously creative scorers that would be among the heavy favorites to win if they are confirmed as entrants. Curry and James come from the Pacific Division, while Harden and Doncic would represent the Southwest if they do play.

There’s obviously no way of knowing whether veteran players like James would want to participate. If not, the league may be forced to try and convince some of its younger stars to join. Doncic fits the bill. Ja Morant of the Grizzlies and Zion Williamson of the Pelicans also come from the Southwest. Trae Young of the  Hawks looks like a logical option out of the Southeast, as well.

The potential for Curry to play makes the Pacific looks like the most appealing option at NBA betting sites if you want to be on which division produces the HORSE winner. Harden and Doncic coming out of the Southwest make that look like an alluring option at the same +400 odds, as well.

Division of Winner:Pacific (+400) or Southwest (+400)

Height of the Winner

You can also bet on how tall the winner will be:

  • 6′ 6″ or Taller: -115
  • 6.5.75″ or shorter: -115

Big men have started to shoot from long range more frequently nowadays, but we still typically think of guards as the NBA’s best shooters. Curry, Harden, Morant, Young and Lillard are all shorter than 6’6″ tall. James, Doncic, Zion, Anthony Davis and Nikola Jokic are some of the potential candidates checking in at 6’6″ or taller.

I’m taking the same approach with this bet as I am with the divisional prop. Curry would be the unquestioned favorite if he were to enter the competition. The former MVP obviously wouldn’t be a lock to win, but betting against him would be a scary proposition. He’s only the best shooter in the history of the game.

Curry has been active on social media during the league’s hiatus, and I’d imagine he would be the first choice of the league if they got to choose which players will participate.

The future Hall of Famer has plenty of experience when it comes to HORSE, as well:

Anything can happen in a game of HORSE, but I think the chances of Curry playing in the tournament are pretty strong. For that reason, I think the bet is to go under 6’6″ for the eventual winner.

Height of the Winner:6’5.75″ or Shorter (-115)

East or West?

Conference of Winner Odds at Bovada
Western Conference -115
Eastern Conference -115

As mentioned, there is no shortage of star-level talent coming out of the Western Conference. In addition to Curry, Harden, Doncic, Zion, James and Lillard, the West also features the likes of Devin Booker, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, De’Aaron Fox, Chris Paul and a host of others.

The East just looks a little less imposing. Young, who has drawn comparisons to Curry dating back to his college days, makes for a natural favorite if he chooses to play. Kemba Walker, Joel Embiid, Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, Bradley Beal, Kevin Durant (if possible) and Zach LaVine are some other candidates to represent the East. Durant was participating in practice as he continued to nurse his way back from an Achilles injury before the league went on hiatus, so I would imagine there isn’t much reason he wouldn’t be able to play a game of HORSE.

I think on balance, the West looks a little more talented overall. This isn’t a safe bet at all, of course, but I’d lean toward the West producing the eventual HORSE winner.

East or West:Western Conference (-115)
Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...

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