We’re still flying high in the NBA Props world after our best day of the season yesterday. We went 5-0 on picks in this column, and it wasn’t just freebies. We hit two Evan Mobley props at +112 and +130 and did even better with a pair of Daniel Gafford hits at +190 and +450. It was a heck of a night.
✅ Gafford rebounds
✅ Mobley rebounds
✅ Mobley blocks
✅ Horford block
✅ Mo Bamba blocks
✅ Valanciunas 3s
💰💰💰 +11.84 units
— Brandon Anderson (@wheatonbrando) December 2, 2021
It’s a much leaner slate tonight, so we’ll need to be much more cautious. Only a half unit for me on these plays — you can’t win +10 units everyday, after all.
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.
Thursday NBA Props
Jrue Holiday, over 14.5 points (-110)
|Bucks at Raptors||Bucks -4|
|Time | TV||7:30 p.m. ET | League Pass|
It’s been a slow start to the season for Jrue Holiday.
Holiday is averaging 14.6 points and 5.9 assists per game for the defending champs. That 14.6 is his lowest PPG average since the 2013-14 season. The 5.9 dimes are his lowest APG since his age-21 season way back in 2011-12.
But those numbers are selling Holiday short. The first nine games of the season were basically lost for Holiday after a long, grueling summer that included an NBA title run and then an Olympic gold medal run in Tokyo that began just days later.
Holiday played the season opener but left injured and played under 18 minutes. After missing a game, he was limited again versus the Spurs and then sat out five games before coming off the bench for a limited spot in his return. Obviously those three low-minute games are going to hurt those averages. Take them out and he moves to 15.0 PPG and 6.6 APG in 33 MPG, basically right back at last year’s production minus a bucket a game on slightly cold shooting.
Jrue isn’t broken — he just took a few weeks to get his season going. He’s been rolling lately, though. He’s scoring 18.0 PPG over the last five games with four times over this number in that stretch. Holiday went over 14.5 points in 41 of his 56 starts last year (73%). He’s gone over in eight of 15 starts this season (53%), a bit of a dip, but remember, that includes a few limited games — and even then, it’s still in our favor.
It won’t be easy tonight in Toronto, especially with the Bucks playing yesterday, but that’s probably good news for us so this doesn’t turn into a blowout, as hot as Milwaukee has been. We’re projecting Jrue at 18.0 points, giving this a 17% edge in our favor. I’ll play to -130.
After all, it’s December now … must be Holiday season.
Deandre Ayton, under 1.5 assists (+115)
|Pistons at Suns||Suns -12.5|
|Time | TV||9 p.m. ET | League Pass|
This is a bit of a letdown spot for the Suns, coming off their big win over the Warriors that pushed them to a franchise record 17-game winning streak. Deandre Ayton was terrific for stretches of that one on both ends of the court, but he has been inconsistent in his career.
This is a pretty niche prop, but we’ll give it a shot. Ayton had an assist every 17.4 minutes his first two seasons in the NBA, but that’s dropped to one dime every 21.8 minutes the past two seasons. It’s not a coincidence that that coincides with the arrival of the Point God, Chris Paul. That has meant less time dumping the ball into Ayton into the post and more times using the big man as a play finisher. By extension, it’s meant less times passing out of the post too, and thus fewer assist opportunities.
Ayton has under 1.5 assists in nine of 16 games this year, hitting this under 56% of the time. Last season, he had zero or one assist in 40 of 69 games, hitting this under 58% of the time. It’s not a huge edge, but it’s in our favor, and we’re getting plus juice that implies only a 47% hit rate.
Dig a little deeper and you see the edge more clearly. Ayton has more games with zero assists than with three or more each of the last two seasons, so that shows a clear ceiling on his passing. He’s also averaging just 2.3 potential assists, per NBA Advanced Stats. Players typically convert about half of their potential assists, and obviously he’d need to convert “both” of his 2.3 potential assists to hit this over.
Let’s hope he doesn’t. I’ll play Ayton’s assists under at any plus number.
Dejounte Murray, under 8.5 assists (-115)
|Spurs at Blazers||Blazers -5|
|Time | TV||10 p.m. ET | NBA TV|
Dejounte Murray is finally having that breakout season we’ve been waiting on for the San Antonio Spurs. He’s filling up the box score on the nightly, averaging 19.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 8.1 assists per game. All three of those numbers are career-highs for Murray, who has quietly become a pretty intriguing Most Improved Player sleeper, especially with Ja Morant hurt.
Someone on the Spurs was always going to break out this year with DeMar DeRozan leaving behind so much usage, and Murray has taken a lot of those touches and run with them. He has three triple-doubles already this season. He’s scored double-digits all but one game and actually already has eight double-digit rebounding games too, an elite rebounder for his position.
Actually, the one category he comes up short is typically assists — only four games so far with double-digit assists. Even that number has been impressive, but it’s a good reminder that assists are hard to come by because they involve your teammates hitting the shots, too.
Murray is averaging an impressive 15.1 potential assists on the season, by far leading the Spurs and sixth highest in the NBA, behind only Chris Paul, James Harden, Luka Doncic, Russell Westbrook, and Trae Young. Pretty impressive list to be on, huh? Murray is seventh in assists per game, behind those five and LaMelo Ball.
And despite all those praises, we’re fading him tonight. Because the books have caught up to Murray’s production, and this number is a touch high.
Remember, players typically convert around half of their potential assists, and Murray is at 8.1 APG. Both of those numbers suggest 8.5 is a little too high as a line, and sure enough, Dejounte has gone under in 12 of 19 games this season. Even in his breakout campaign, he’s still gone under this line 63% of the time.
It’s nothing against Murray, and it’s a nice matchup against the Blazers too, especially with Damian Lillard out. Nine assists is just a lot to ask from anyone, and it’s more likely than not that Dejounte doesn’t get there. He’s been within an assist of the under in all but four games. I’ll play the under to -130.