It’s NBA Christmas week!
This marks a point in the season where some people start tuning into the NBA for the first time, but with 38% of the season down we can rely on the current sample size.
In this week’s edition, we are going to dive in to the injury implications of Stephen Curry and Anthony Davis.
Let’s talk NBA player props.
NBA Player Props Forecast
Curry’s Out. Is the Poole Open?
Stephen Curry labrum injury to his left shoulder and is expected to be reevaluated in about 14 days, but the injury will likely hold him out for at least another three weeks.
The Golden State Warriors are 9-14 without Curry over the past two seasons. He’s their best player, an MVP candidate, and commands the highest Usage on the team (31.8%). There is no real way to make up for the lack of a generational player.
However, the Warriors’ solution is to insert Jordan Poole into the starting lineup. While Poole has been brutal this season in terms of point differential, inserting in the lineup him with the starters should allow him to thrive.
He has a -12.9 point differential this season, but when he plays alongside Draymond Green without Curry, that number jumps to +5.4. Poole is a solid player, but he is not talented enough at this point in his career to elevate the entire bench unit.
Over the last two seasons, Poole has played 85 games with Curry and 22 games without him. Those splits are significant.
– 85 Games With Curry: 28.3 minutes | 16.5 points | 2.8 rebounds | 3.8 assists | 2.4/6.9 3PM/3PA
– 22 Games Without Curry: 35.0 minutes | 26.8 points | 3.9 rebounds | 5.6 assists | 4.0/10.5 3PM/3PA
His lines will jump in his next game, but against the Raptors, Poole’s prop lines were: 24.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 3.5 3s. This season without Curry in the lineup, he has exceeded the points line four times, rebounds once, assists three times and 3s five times.
A big reason for his success is that Poole now is the target of the plays that are traditionally run for Curry. Without Curry, he does not need to play a complimentary role, rather, he’s been thrust into the spotlight as the primary offensive force. And while Curry is transcendent, he obviously benefits from having such good team passing and ball movement all around him.
If Poole keeps up this scoring blitz, teams will be forced to defend him as if he was Curry running the offense, which means tighter defense on ball screens, and likely more passing opportunities to keep defenses honest.
One other player who is benefitting from the combined absence of Curry and Andrew Wiggins is Donte DiVincenzo. He has played four games without Curry this season and while his scoring has been inconsistent, he has been an excellent passing threat.
His assists line on Sunday was 4.5 (+105) and he recorded six assists. He’s exceeded 4.5 assists in all four games without Curry, tallying six, six, seven, and five. Look to bet his assists on Tuesday against the Knicks.
Anthony Davis’ Domination Tour Was Too Good to Be True
I was just two weeks ago when I wrote about the incredible stretch Anthony Davis was having and now here we are. He’s out for at least a few weeks as he recovers from a foot injury.
Can the Los Angeles Lakers survive as the hopes of their season now rest on the shoulders of 37-year-old LeBron James and 34-year-old Russell Westbrook?
Maybe, but it is going to be a grind.
One notable takeaway is the Lakers have continued to bring Westbrook off the bench and have inserted Thomas Bryant into the starting role.
Bryant has filled in admirable seeing his minutes double to 27.5 per game with 13.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks. He’s not an exciting option, but he will suffice — the books actually overinflated his props last game, setting totals at 15.5 points and 7.5 rebounds. He may be an under play if they remain high.
Westbrook coming off the bench opens up even more scoring with the starters. James sees a scoring bump, but so does Dennis Schroder.
Schroder jumps from 7.0 points to 17.0 without Davis and takes nearly four more shots per game. His points prop was set at 11.5 last game and he scored 12, but in the prior contests he recorded 18 and 21. Since the volume remained there, if his prop is set at 11.5 again I would take that over.
As for James, the last two seasons give us a viable sample size.
– 41 Games With Davis: 36.7 minutes | 26.1 points | 7.7 rebounds | 6.7 assists | 2.4/7.4 3PM/3PA
– 37 Games Without Davis: 37.3 minutes | 32.9 points | 8.9 rebounds | 5.8 assists | 3.1/8.1 3PM/3PA
James playing more games nearly as many with Davis as he has without him is shocking in its own right. But James turns back the clock a bit without Davis and he becomes the Lakers’ primary scoring threat. His prop lines were just set at 30.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 2.5 3s (+115). With increased volume he is a threat to explode on any given night.
In his last 20 games without AD he has exceeded 30 points in 13 games, 10 rebounds in games, six assists seven games, and three 3-pointers in nine games. LeBron’s props are always juiced, but he has excelled as a scorer without Davis.
What is interesting now though is the time line in which he will inevitably surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the NBA’s all time scoring leader. James is 732 points behind Adbul-Jabbar and averaging 27 points per game.
If Davis misses a month (roughly 15 games) and James averages 32.9 points in the stretch, it would shave a few games off the top and James could break the record in 24 games.
Accounting for some rest days with back-to-backs (he’s out Monday against the Suns), James is in line to break the record sometime between games 57 and 60: Games on the road against the Warriors and Trail Blazers, then home against the New Orleans Pelicans and Warriors.