We’re barely a week into the new NBA season, and already the league has been turned upside down.
The Bulls and Warriors are each 4-0, at the top of the league. The Nets and Lakers are below .500, struggling to win. The Timberwolves and Hornets have only lost once. The Suns have just one win. Up is down, down is up … our pets’ heads are falling off!
Thankfully, we don’t need to worry about wins, losses, and unpredictable results in the world of player props. We just have to play and beat the numbers, and that’s what we’ll attempt to do again tonight.
For those who are new to this article, we’ll be using the Action Labs Player Prop tool to compare our NBA projections to the props posted at a variety of sportsbooks. Each bet is then graded on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the best possible grade.
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
Clint Capela, over 20.5 points + rebounds (-115)
|Hawks vs. Wizards||Hawks -3|
|Time | TV||7 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
A week ago, we played this same Clint Capela angle in the Hawks opener. He averaged 15.2 points and 14.3 rebounds per game for Atlanta last year, leading the league in rebounding. He had 15 or more boards in 48% of his games last season and 15 or more points in 46% of them.
Capela cleared this combo line with points alone 18 times last year, and with rebounds alone six times. With both points and rebounds combined, Capela beat this line in 52 of 63 games last year, an impressive 83% of the time. Consider that he averaged 29.5 points and rebounds, a full 44% higher than this line.
So what gives? Why is this line so low?
There are two reasons — and neither of them make much sense. First, as we learned a few hours after playing Capela last Thursday, he’s playing through an injury right now. That was supposed to put him on a minutes limit, and indeed, he played only 20.5 minutes in the opener — but hit our over anyway with 12 points and 13 boards.
Besides, Capela is over 27 minutes per game in the three since and just played 29 minutes last night in New Orleans. That’s pretty close to his season average from a year ago, so it looks safe to say Capela is basically a full go at this point, even if he’s slightly limited in a back-to-back.
The other reason for this low line is recency bias. Capela scored five points last night and four in his previous game, and he’s averaging only 7.8 points per game on the season.
That just feels like a great chance to buy low. Capela’s shot attempts are down a tad, but mostly it’s his field goal percentage that’s been down. Capela is usually one of the league’s most efficient scorers since almost all of his shots are at the rim, often finishing lobs from Trae Young. And he should get plenty of those chances tonight against Washington, especially with Daniel Gafford out.
I have to keep riding Capela until the books adjust up. He went under this line the last two games, but I won’t fall prey to recency bias. I trust the big man to produce now that his minutes are back, and I’ll play this over to -140.
Tyrese Maxey, over 2.5 assists (-105)
|Pistons vs. 76ers||76ers -10.5|
|Time | TV||7 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
Ben Simmons who? While Philadelphia’s other point guard has yet to play for the 76ers this season, their talented sophomore guard has stepped up.
Tyrese Maxey has stepped right into a starting role and produced pretty good numbers. He’s averaging 14 points, four rebounds and three assists per game. Though his 3-point shot hasn’t started falling yet, he’s been a nice playmaker and a good finisher.
We’re playing him tonight in a soft matchup against the Pistons that should be a great chance for some nice numbers, and we’re playing Maxey’s passing.
Last year, Maxey averaged an assist every 7.8 minutes on the court as a rookie. In the preseason, he had 3.7 assists per game in 21.8 minutes, upping his creation rate to one dime every 5.9 minutes. And that makes sense, since Maxey is obviously playing with a lot more of the ball while Simmons is out and in the starting lineup with much better players around him to finish plays off.
Those assist numbers haven’t really translated to the regular season yet. In these four games, Maxey has suddenly dropped to an assist every 11.2 minutes, almost half the rate he had in the preseason. The truth is that he’ll probably end up somewhere in the middle, much like last year.
He’s also been a bit unlucky so far. Per NBA Advanced Stats, Maxey is averaging 6.5 potential assists per game. He’s not a pure point guard or creator, but he’s giving his guys chances — it’s not his fault that his teammates have only converted 3.0 of them per game. That’s the sort of thing that regresses to the mean over time.
Maxey has gone over this assists line in two of four games, but he had two dimes in both of the unders, missing by just one assist. This is just too low of a line for the lead guard in any NBA offense. We project Maxey at 3.9 assists, so I’m happy to play the over. I’ll play to -140.
Evan Fournier, over 13.5 points (-125)
|Knicks vs. Bulls||Knicks +1.5|
|Time | TV||8 p.m. ET | NBA TV|
Holy cow, it’s a monster Bulls vs. Knicks game. Is this the ’90s?!
Chicago and New York have been two of the league’s most exciting stories over the first week, and now they meet in a marquee Thursday night game. For the Bing Bong Knicks, it’s been both something old and something new. Julius Randle and R.J. Barrett are balling out like they did a year ago, but new additions Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier have enlivened rabid Knicks crowds.
Fournier, in particular, has stepped right in as an electric scorer for New York. He’s scoring 19.0 points per game for the Knicks, bombing almost nine 3-point attempts per game at 46% with 4.0 makes per game. Every one of those numbers is a career-high, so we know this incredible hot streak won’t last forever, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take advantage of it in the meantime.
Fournier was electric in the memorable season opener, scoring 32 in a double-overtime win, and he’s had a pair of 18-point games since. That puts him over in three of the four Knicks games, with the only under not coincidentally coming in the shocking loss to the Magic.
This is a volume play. You never know how hot Fournier will be any given night, but we should expect big minutes in what should be a competitive game against Chicago, and Fournier is going to get his shots up while he’s out there. Even if you throw out that double-OT game, he’s still averaging 15.0 points and over seven 3-point attempts per game. I’m banking on that volume to get us over the line here.
I see higher lines for less juice at other books, but I’m just trying to get a win on the books here so I’ll drink the juice. I’ll play to -140, and if it goes past that, I may pivot to over 14.5 points instead.