The NBA rang in the new year with a three game slate yesterday, but is back in earnest tonight. There are 11 games on the schedule on the schedule tonight highlighted by the New Orleans Pelicans visiting the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Pelicans won in New Orleans on Friday and CJ McCollum led the way 42 points and 11 3-pointers. Joel Embiid dropped 37 points in the loss, but that could lead to him drawing extra attention tonight.
Let’s get into Monday’s top NBA player props and picks.
NBA Player Props & Picks
Joel Embiid Over 3.5 Assists (-135)
|Time | TV||7 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
On Saturday, Joel Embiid finished with 16 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists and recorded his fifth career triple double in the process against Oklahoma City. James Harden sat out that game, which led to Embiid’s bump in assists. However, even with Harden back in the lineup, I like Embiid as a passer again.
Saturday’s game snapped a four game 30-point streak for Embiid, but he did score 37 points against the Pelicans on Friday night. When Embiid wants to have a big scoring night, there is not much many teams can do about it.
However, I expect a bit of pride to kick for the Pelicans in not wanting to let him torch them for a second consecutive game. That could led to more double teams leading to open teammates on cuts and on the perimeter. With Harden back in the lineup along with Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris, those open looks could turn into assists very quickly.
Embiid is averaging 4.6 assists this season. He has recorded at least three assists seven times in his last 10 games and four assists five times in that span. According to props.cash, the Pelicans are 16th in both assists and defending centers. Embiid had five assists against them on Friday night. This line is a bit juiced but I like Embiid’s chances of getting four assists tonight.
LaMelo Ball Over 7.5 Assists (-105)
|Time | TV||7 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
Since returning from a sprained ankle injury, LaMelo Ball has settled into a groove of late. Over his last 10 games, he is averaging 25 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 8.2 assists. Tonight, he gets a prime matchup against the Lakers and he probably fill up the stat sheet in a lot of areas. However, I am going to target his assists.
Ball has had at least eight assists in six of his last 10 games. In that span, he has four games with double digits assists and another where he just missed, finishing with seven. He had eight assists against the Lakers on Dec. 23. The Lakers are a great team to target because they are 25th in assists allowed and 27th in scoring defense.
The Hornets are eighth in pace while the Lakers are second so this should be another up-and-down game. The oddsmakers project a close and high-scoring game with the Hornets favored by one point and the total at 242.5 points. The first meeting resulted in a 134-130 Hornets victory. They may not combine for 264 again, but another shootout bodes well for Ball dishing out eight assists.
Anthony Edwards Over 25.5 Points (+100)
|Time | TV||8 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
Anthony Edwards is turning into one of the most prolific scorers the league has to offer. This season, he is averaging 23.9 points per game. However, he has upped his average to 29.1 points per game over his last eight games.
He has scored 26 points in seven of those games and finished with 23 in the other. That means Edwards is a 3-pointer away from hitting this line in eight consecutive games.
Tonight, Edwards and the Timberwolves get the Nuggets, who are first in the Western Conference, but are not very daunting on the defensive end. The Nuggets are 17th in points allowed per game (114.4) and 24th in defensive rating. They are also 26th in field goal percentage defense, 22nd in 3-point percentage defense, and 24th in defending shooting guards.
The Nuggets will also be traveling to Minnesota for the second end of a back-to-back. Last night, Denver gave up 30 points and four threes to Jaylen Brown. In addition, Landry Shamet, Kevin Huerter, Malik Monk, and Tyler Herro all scored at least 20 points against the Nuggets in their last five games. Four of the five along with Brown went for 25 points.
Anthony Edwards has not faced the Nuggets yet this season, but he did score 38 points against them last season. I like his chances of scoring 26 points tonight.