Friday's NBA Player Props: Fade Nikola Jokic?

NBA betting analyst Brandon Anderson gives out his three favorite prop bet plays for the NBA slate on Friday, February 11.

The 2022 NBA Trade Deadline has passed, and what a monster day it was around the league. The James Harden for Ben Simmons swap was the headliner, but there were huge trades around the league that shook up more than half of the league’s rosters. And that means shorthanded rosters and prop opportunities as we sort through the aftermath 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.

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NBA Player Props & Picks

Chris Duarte, over 1.5 threes (-105)

Cavaliers vs. Pacers Cavaliers -7.5
Time | TV 7 p.m. ET | League Pass
Best Book DraftKings

The Indiana Pacers have blown things up.

The Pacers came into the season with a pretty interesting theoretical starting five. Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert, T.J. Warren, Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner could have been a starting five that held its own against almost any team. But those five never played a minute together. Brogdon has missed half of Indiana’s 56 games. LeVert, Sabonis and Turner missed another 40, and Warren has yet to play a minute.

Now, the core five is no more. Sabonis and LeVert were traded, Turner and Warren remain indefinitely sidelined and Brogdon is questionable Friday. Wings Justin Holiday, Jeremy Lamb and Torrey Craig were traded, too. That leaves only one remaining Pacer who’s top eight in rotation minutes this season: rookie Chris Duarte.

Duarte is about to see big minutes the rest of the season, and he should see a significant uptick in minutes and volume. Duarte has already ranked fourth on the team in PPG at 13.6, and he’s ranked second on the team in 3s per game at 1.7, hitting 36% of his treys. Duarte has multiple 3s in 29 of his 48 NBA games, hitting this over 60% of the time. And now he should get more minutes and shots.

We’re projecting Duarte at 2.0 makes, and he’s had multiple 3s in nine of his last 13 games, a 69% hit rate. You can play Duarte more aggressively at FanDuel if you prefer, at +330 for three makes or +1140 for four. It’s hard to know if we’ll get that sort of volume, since new additions Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield should get plenty of shots up too. I’ll stick with the safer play today and play the over 1.5 to -125.

Nikola Jokic, under 9.5 assists (-110)

Nuggets vs. Celtics Celtics -6.5
Time | TV 7:30 p.m. ET | NBA TV
Best Book BetMGM

Nikola Jokic has been the best player in the NBA over the last two seasons. Full stop.

Jokic is breaking most of the advanced stats metrics, and we’re now more than two-thirds of the way through the season. Even by just sheer counting stats, Jokic has been a monster. He’s at 25.8 points, 13.6 rebounds and 7.9 assists per game, a stat line matched by only the greatest greats in NBA history. Jokic remains in the thick of the MVP race for a second straight season, and Friday’s news could buoy his case: Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. are both progressing well and expected back soon.

For now, this is still the Jokic show, and that should mean playing Jokic overs. But we’re going the other way in a really interesting game tonight pitting the Nuggets with the red-hot Celtics. Boston has the league’s top defense over the past 15 games. The Celtics are up to third in Defensive Rating now on the season, and lead the league in fewest assists allowed per game at just 21.6.

Besides, this line is pretty high anyway, needing double-digit dimes to hit the over. Jokic has gone under 9.5 assists in six of his last nine games, hitting this under 67% of the time, and he’s topped out at 10 assists max in all but one of those games.

It’s always helpful to look at Potential Assists to see how much luck is factoring in, so I wondered if Jokic has just been unlucky lately. Per NBA Advanced Stats, over these last nine games Jokic is at 15.1 potential APG, and he’s converted that into 9.3 APG. That’s a 62% conversion rate, and it’s actually higher than his season-long 57% rate. At that expected rate, Jokic would have 8.6 expected assists per game over these last nine outings, a full dime below this line.

We’re projecting him even lower than that at 8.0 assists, and that makes this a 10 out of 10 rated prop with a 20% edge in our favor. I’ll play to -135 and hope Jokic has to do it himself tonight against a stingy defense.

Jakob Poeltl, over 8.5 rebounds (-105)

Spurs vs. Hawks Hawks -7.5
Time | TV 7:30 p.m. ET | League Pass
Best Book DraftKings

The Spurs, like the Pacers, quietly blew up a chunk of their team at the deadline. Longtime Spurs guard Derrick White was shipped out for salary flotsam and draft picks, while veterans Thad Young, Juancho Hernangomez, and Drew Eubanks are gone, too.

Those latter names may not mean much to you, but it tells me that the Spurs are shorthanded in the paint and that Jakob Poeltl is going to see all the minutes he can handle for the time being. And that should be perfectly fine for a guy who’s quietly having a breakout season.

Poeltl is a very good defender, and he’s shown huge growth in his rebounding this season. Over his first 25 games, Poeltl averaged 4.0 offensive rebounds per game, a robust number, but just 4.2 on the defensive end. In the 20 games since, Poeltl has kept that OREB total steady at 3.9, but he’s increased his DREB per game to 6.2.

That jump in defensive rebounding has jumped Poeltl’s overall RPG total from 8.3 to 10.0. It also means that he’s gone over 8.5 rebounds in 14 of these last 20 games, hitting this over 70% of the time.

You can play this more aggressively if you’d like. Poeltl has double-digit rebounds in 13 of those 20 and we can play that over at +150 at PointsBet, so that’s a big odds leap for just one extra board. He’s hit 12 or more boards seven times (35%) in that stretch, and that’s available at +375 (implied 21%), but he’s failed to hit that number in nine straight.

You can also play Poeltl’s defense, if you like. He’s had multiple blocks in 12 of his last 14 games with at least one block in all 14 and 2.1 BPG over that stretch, and we can play Poeltl to go over 1.5 blocks at -115. I would be happy to parlay Poeltl’s rebounds and blocks if your book allows that, since he’ll need the minutes to hit both of them.

We project the Austrian at 9.7 rebounds and 2.1 blocks. I’ll play the over 8.5 rebounds to -130 or just pivot to the over-9.5 instead.