Apparently, it’s big man night here in the props column, because we’re playing three bigs and we’re getting creative with it.
Even as the modern game gets smaller and faster, big men are still making an impact. And with these three big men below, we’re getting a little creative with our plays today.
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 that I’m playing, the case for each bet and the best books to find odds on those player props.
NBA Player Props & Picks
Daniel Gafford, over 7.5 rebounds (+190) & over 9.5 rebounds (+450)
|Timberwolves vs. Wizards||Wizards -4|
|Time | TV||7 p.m. ET | League Pass|
Our Props Tool has been recommending Daniel Gafford overs for weeks, and I’m finally ready to play.
I was hesitant on Gafford for awhile, mostly because it’s hard to be confident that he’ll play enough. There’s nothing worse than playing a prop and seeing your guy on the bench for 17 of the 24 minutes in the first-half, knowing he has virtually no chance of hitting your over.
Over the first 11 games of the season, Gafford was averaging just 20 minutes per game, and the production was a bit wishy-washy anyway at just 4.7 RPG, with some highs and lows. But over the last seven games, things have been a bit more consistent. He’s up to almost 22 MPG and 7.1 RPG, with a noticeable uptick in the rebounding.
If you look at those seven recent games, there are two really bad ones in there, the ones that still make me a little scared to play Gafford. Twice in that stretch, he played under 15 minutes in a game. He had only three rebounds total in those two games. Big yikes, but props are all or nothing — if we go under, it hardly matters if we miss by one or seven.
But that also obscures the averages. Focus on the other five most recent games when he did get the usual minutes and now Gafford is over 24 MPG at 9.4 RPG. That’s almost double his RPG average from the beginning stretch of the season and it shows just how much his rebounding numbers have improved.
And that means this is a good spot to get more aggressive. With players like Gafford, props can be an all-or-nothing situation. There’s always the chance he just doesn’t get minutes, because of foul trouble or just not having it that night and the Wizards turning to one of their other big men. But if he does stay out there, he’s proving that the production should be there. That means eschewing median and average outcomes and playing the extremes.
Gafford’s offensive rebounding has been up lately too, and Minnesota is dead last in defensive rebounding, so maybe we’ll get a couple easy ones that way.
You can play Gafford to go over 6.5 rebounds at +116 at FanDuel, but it’s +190 for only one more board. Gafford has six games this season with eight or more boards, and he has 11 games with five or fewer. Only one game all season was right in the middle, where this line is. That means if we’re playing the over, we should make the juice worth the squeeze. That’s why I’ll also sprinkle part of my bet on Gafford to go over 9.5 rebounds at +450. That’s an implied 18%, but he’s done it three times already this season and all in the past five games.
Pick your favorite spot in there if you like, or you can play a little at each level. After all, if Gafford does go over 6.5 boards, he has a far better chance of going over the other lines too than the odds would leave you. Sometimes it’s worth it to be more aggressive and get multiple bites at the apple.
Evan Mobley, over 7.5 rebounds (+112)
|Cavaliers vs. Heat||Cavaliers +4.5|
|Time | TV||7:30 p.m. ET | League Pass|
Evan Mobley is back and immediately looks like himself again. Mobley missed four games with an injury but played over 33 minutes right away in his return and over 35 in his second game.
The Cavs won both games easily, with Mobley a big reason why. He’s the clear Rookie of the Year a quarter of the way through the season. Mobley has scored double digits in all but two games as a pro, and he’s averaging 14.4 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists a game, adding 1.8 blocks as well and making a huge impact on both ends.
We’ve played Mobley a few times in this space and are going back to the well now that he’s, uhh, well.
Mobley’s rebounding line continues to be too low. His median rebounding output is nine boards, and he’s had at least seven rebounds in 13 of 17 games. Those trends go up even better over the last 10 games, with at least seven boards in all but one and 9-plus boards in six of them.
You can shop around for the number you like best. At DraftKings, you can play the basic over/under at over-6.5 rebounds at -140. Mobley has had exactly seven boards three times already, so there’s a chance he goes just barely over this number if you want the more conservative play. He’s hit that over in seven straight. You can also get more aggressive and play over-9.5 rebounds at +260 at FanDuel. Mobley has had double-digit boards four times, so that’s attainable but not worth the play.
I settled on an alternate line right in the middle at FanDuel, the over 7.5-rebounds at +112. Mobley has done that in 10 of 17 games, and the extra 52 cent payout is worth the risk of just one more rebound. We project Mobley at 9.1 rebounds anyway, so there’s still some margin here.
I may also play Mobley to go over 1.5 blocks at DraftKings at +130. He’s had multiple blocks in five straight games, and he’s a preternatural shot blocker with incredible mirroring skills and hand placement. You can play the blocks and rebounds overs together as a Same Game Parlay too, if you like. Get creative with it and find the angle you like best.
Jonas Valanciunas, under 1.5 3-pointers (-170)
|Mavericks vs. Pelicans||Pelicans +3.5|
|Time | TV||8 p.m. ET | League Pass|
No one said we had to get plus odds on every bet. Sometimes you just want to secure a likely winner.
Jonas Valanciunas has been shooting the lights out this season. The Lithuanian big man entered the season with 98 made 3-pointers in nine seasons in the league, but he’s hit 30 treys this season, already just two away from a career high through November! Valanciunas has taken 58 attempts behind the arc, which means he’s also leading the league at 51.7% right now.
JV probably won’t shoot over 50% on 3s forever, but that’s not the angle here. The angle here is much simpler: Valanciunas isn’t playing the Clippers tonight.
Valanciunas hit a career-high seven 3s his last time out in a monster game against the Clips. He hit 7-of-8 behind the arc and had a season-high 39 points in a comfortable win. That broke JV’s previous career-high of five 3s, which he had set just 10 days before… also against the Clippers. Valanciunas was 5-of-9 in that one beyond the arc.
Outside of those two games, Valanciunas has never in his career hit more than a trio of 3s in the same game. It’s clear that this was a specific strategy against the Clippers defense, knowing JV would be open and daring LA to break its defensive shell and get out to guard him at the perimeter.
Notice the 17 attempts in two Clippers games. In 21 other games this season, Valanciunas has never attempted more than four 3s in a game. In non-Clippers games, he’s gone under 1.5 made 3s in 17 of 21 games, hitting our under 81% of the time. You might scoff at this -170 line at first, but that would imply value all the way past -400 at that rate.
All the better that tonight’s opponent, the Mavericks, allow the third fewest 3-point attempts in the league. Sometimes the juice is worth drinking. I’ll play the under and bank on a return to normalcy. We’ll play to -200 if needed.