All-Star point guard Trae Young has opened as the favorite in the eight-player NBA H.O.R.S.E Challenge, which will begin airing on ESPN this Sunday.
Bovada has Young listed as the +235 to win the shooting competition, ahead of other NBA stars like Chris Paul (+325) and Zach LaVine (+400).
Players Competing from Home Courts
The NBA H.O.R.S.E Challenge features a mix of eight current and former NBA and WNBA stars playing the best-known playground basketball shooting game in the world.
The game is simple: a player may take any shot they like. If they make it, their opponent must match it. Should they miss, they receive a letter. Get five letters – spelling H-O-R-S-E – and you lose the game.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shut down most sports worldwide, leaving broadcasters and sportsbooks desperate for content. Unique one-off contests like the NBA H.O.R.S.E Challenge could help bridge that gap by providing a competition that – while not particularly serious – has an unknown outcome, something fans and bettors will both appreciate.
The coronavirus has impacted how this contest will be played. Each contestant will participate from a home court, as NBA protocols will not allow players to compete against each other in person. Other than that, standard rules apply, with one exception: no dunks will be allowed.
Young Opens NBA H.O.R.S.E Challenge vs. Billups
Young earned favorite status by establishing himself as one of the best long-range shooters in the NBA, with the Atlanta Hawks standout often making long three-pointers far beyond the arc. In the first round, he’s paired against retired NBA star Chauncey Billups (+825).
They make up half of Group 1, along with Mike Conley Jr. (+475) of the Utah Jazz, who battles WNBA legend Tamika Catchings (+1800). The winners of those two matches will advance to face each other in the semifinals.
Over in Group 2, LaVine will shoot against retired NBA superstar Paul Pierce (+525), while Paul takes on the Chicago Sky’s Allie Quigley (+1200), who may be one of the best shooters in WNBA history.
ESPN will air the quarterfinal round on Easter Sunday at 7 p.m. Eastern. The semifinals and finals will then air on April 16 at 9 p.m. ET. While the players don’t stand to win anything themselves, State Farm will sponsor the event and donate more than $200,000 to coronavirus response efforts.
Handicapping the tournament is difficult, as the results could be determined by factors that go beyond the relative shooting skills of the players. Most importantly, few know anything about the courts that each player will be competing from. A softer rim could allow a competitor to make more shots, while anyone using an outdoor court might have to contend with wind or other weather elements.
The NBA stopped play on March 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic after Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 prior to a game. The WNBA has also announced a delay in the start of its regular season, which was slated to begin on May 15.