It’s tricky out there, folks. Between the injured stars and the endless names in COVID protocols, it’s a bit of a mess right now in professional sports.
Like yesterday, that means it’s wise to tread carefully and bet lightly. It does mean that there may be some value out there in the lesser names stepping into bigger roles, and that’s the angle we’re taking tonight.
We’ll be using the Action Labs Player Prop tool to compare our NBA projections to the props posted at a variety of sportsbooks. Below, I have laid out three prop bets I’m playing, the case for each bet and the best books to find odds on those player props.
NBA Player Props & Picks
Blake Griffin, over 18.5 points + rebounds + assists (-110)
|76ers at Nets||Nets -1|
|Time | TV||7:30 p.m. ET | NBA TV|
Guess who’s back, back again? Blake is back. Tell a friend.
I could try to tell you which Nets are in COVID protocol or out injured (or shot-less), but at this point it would honestly be faster just telling you who can actually play for Brooklyn. And that is basically Kevin Durant, Patty Mills, Blake Griffin, and whatever other two guys the Nets can find off the street or in the stands.
By default, that means Griffin gets another chance to show he is worthy of rotation minutes. And it means he’s gonna have to, you know… do stuff while he’s out there. And Blake has never been too afraid of doing stuff. You want usage? Griffin will give you usage. Cue up the shots, hit the boards, and let the offense run through him for some assists. We want it all.
There’s not a ton of data to go on here, but we do know that Griffin had 13 points, five rebounds, and six assists two nights ago in a similarly shorthanded game. We also know that Griffin has hit this combo over in all four of his games this season with at least 27 minutes, averaging 11.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 4.3 dimes in those games. He played over 30 minutes Tuesday night, and that’s where we’re projecting him again tonight.
When it’s a minutes and usage play, the best bet is just to grab the combo line and go for the points, rebounds, and assists stack. It’s a good way to cover our butts in case one of the numbers is low because, frankly, someone in Brooklyn is going to have to get some points, rebounds, and assists, and tonight, there just aren’t many other options.
I’ll play this PRA over to -135.
Armoni Brooks, over 11.5 points (-106), over 14.5 points (+220)
|Knicks at Rockets||Rockets +5|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
Tonight, we’re playing a prop on Armoni Brooks, which I believe is some sort of fancy double suit.
It’s also the name of a talented sophomore shooter in Houston. Brooks played his ball at the University of Houston, where he knocked down 40% of his 3-point shots, and now he’s right back in Houston getting a shot with the Rockets — emphasis on shot.
Over the last 12 games, Brooks is playing increased minutes and getting a heap of shots up. He’s averaging 9.2 shots per game during that stretch, 7.6 of them beyond the arc, and scoring 10.9 points per game during that stretch while knocking down 36% of his treys. Not bad!
Apparently Houston’s coaches believe in Brooks too, because they’re giving him more playing time lately. He moved into the starting lineup on Dec. 8 against the Nets, and he’s started four of five games since. He got at least nine shots up in four of those games, and the fifth was an outlier since the Rockets got smashed and the bench got a ton of extra minutes.
We’re projecting Brooks at 30 minutes, and that means he should approach double-digit 3-point attempts like he’s been doing lately. We’re just going to have to hope he gets hot and knocks a few down. Our Props Tool is recommending combo overs for Brooks, but the truth is that he’s not hitting any of those without scoring enough, so let’s just keep it simple and stick with the points.
This is simply a volume play. We expect minutes and shots, so we should expect points too. And this is a nice spot for an escalator. Throwing out this recent blowout loss, Brooks had scored 14, 21, 18, and 6 in the four previous games. So if the shots do fall, then this line of 11.5 points is actually pretty low.
That’s why it makes sense to play the alt line at FanDuel too, with Brooks going over 14.5 points at +220. He’s actually done that in five of the last 12 games (42%) so it’s a very nice value for us. You can get even more aggressive and go for broke with 20-plus points at +980. He’s only done that once, but at an implied 9.3%, that’s likely in our favor too if you want to sprinkle.
I’ll stick with the 11.5 and 14.5 lines and probably split my unit into two bets, half a unit on each.
Alec Burks, over 2.5 assists (-120)
|Knicks at Rockets||Knicks -5|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
The Knicks have ditched Kemba Walker from the rotation and turned the starting “point guard” position over to Alec Burks. And though Burks is not a true point guard, or a point guard at all really, it means he’s getting increased playmaking opportunities by default.
And of course, because it’s Thibs, it also means more minutes. Lots more minutes.
While starting these last eight games, Burks is playing 36.3 minutes per game. And he’s producing! He’s at 15.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game during this stretch.
The problem is that there are dud stat lines in there. Burks had one game with a single point scored. He’s had two games with only one rebounds, and two without a single assist. And that’s ugly. But it also means that those averages are quite a bit lower than his expected production, and if we go under a bet, it really doesn’t matter exactly how far under it went or how ugly it feels. Win or bust, baby.
Sure, Burks had those two games without an assist, but he had at least three assists in the other six starts. That’s a 75% hit rate on our prop, and that’s good enough for me. If you prefer, you can play Burks to go over 3.5 dimes at +200 at FanDuel, or you can treat this as an escalator prop and play a bit of both.
I’m not overwhelmed with Burks’ Potential Assist numbers at NBA Advanced Stats though, so I’m going to stick with the safer option this time. I’ll play the over 2.5 assists to -135, or pivot to the 3.5 from there.