We’re a month into the NBA season now, and the injuries are starting to add up. On light slates like tonight, those injuries can really seem significant.
Injuries can make capping the NBA difficult, but they can also provide value in the props market. Where one key player is out, there’s opportunity for the next man up. Tonight’s props are all about three guys whose numbers are getting a boost with teammates out, including one of the league’s superstars.
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.
NBA Player Props & Picks
Drew Eubanks, Over 8.5 Points (-110)
|Spurs vs. Timberwolves||Timberwolves -2.5|
|Time | TV||8 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
If you Google “Drew Eubanks highlights,” you just get an Error 404 screen. The man is one of the most nondescript players in the NBA, just the way the Spurs like it. Eubanks played college ball at Oregon State, but went undrafted, which is the sort of thing that happens when your team wins five games.
His pro team isn’t faring much better. The Spurs are just 4-10 and don’t look particularly relevant. Dejounte Murray has been a breakout player, and there are intriguing young players on the roster, but not enough high end talent. It doesn’t help that Jakob Poeltl is still out. The Spurs badly miss him in the middle, on both ends.
And that’s where Eubanks comes in. He’s been starting at center with Poeltl out (apparently Pop seriously hates Thaddeus Young), and his numbers have been surprisingly steady. Over the last seven games, all starts, Eubanks is playing 22.5 minutes a game and averaging 9.9 points and 7.7 rebounds.
It’s not much, but he’s making 56% of his shots and adding 3.0 points a game at the free throw line. Eubanks has a soft touch around the rim. He’s a play finisher, and he’s been a beneficiary of that Dejounte Murray breakout, getting some easy finishes around the rim.
The Timberwolves defense is improving but still allowing some easy ones, and Karl-Anthony Towns has a fouling issue so that could get Eubanks bank to the line for a few points again too. Our man isn’t going to make any threes, so we either need five buckets or a few trips to the line.
Eubanks has scored at least eight points in five of these seven starts, putting us within a free throw of the over. This is not a prop you want to watch and sweat out. There will be long stretches where Eubanks watches from the bench, and he won’t get many touches. We only need a few, though.
We’re projecting Eubanks at 11.0 points, and with a line this low, there’s some value. Our Props Tool rates this a 10 out of 10, and we’ll play the over to -135.
Nikola Jokic, Over 6.5 Assists (-135)
|76ers vs. Nuggets||Nuggets -7.5|
|Time | TV||9 p.m. ET | NBA TV|
Perhaps you’ve heard of Nikola Jokic?
The man is the defending MVP, and he somehow got better — significantly better — this season. He’s averaging 26.1 points, 13.8 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game and leading the league in virtually every advanced metric you can come up with. Right now, Jokic has the highest PER and BPM in NBA history. He might be worthy of DPOY contention this season.
The Nuggets have been missing their second best player, Jamal Murray, all season. Their third best player has been out the last five games, and Michael Porter Jr. hasn’t been good even when he’s played. The fourth best player, Will Barton, has been terrific this season but missed the last two games and is also out again with MPJ.
So what happened to the MVP? Oh you know, he led his shorthanded-is-putting-it-lightly Nuggets to a five-game home win streak, pushing the Nuggets all the way to the West 3-seed, and his numbers are up more than ever. In these last five games without MPJ, Jokic is averaging 27.5 points, 14.8 rebounds, and 8.8 assists.
You’ll notice the big change in assists, and that’s the angle we’re playing tonight. With no MPJ or Barton, there’s more on Jokic’s capable shoulders than ever, and he’s handling it just fine. He has 10, 10, 9, and 6 assists in those games (he missed one) without MPJ.
Even with the slightly lower assist totals this year, Jokic is still over 6.5 dimes in seven of 13 starts, still more than half his games this season. He’s over in three of these last four without MPJ, and Denver will need him to do it all again tonight. This line is just too low for Jokic. I have to play the over, and I’ll play to -160.
Tyrese Maxey, Over 25.5 PTS + REB + AST (-110)
Nikola Jokic isn’t the only star in this game balling without his teammates.
The Philadelphia 76ers have also been shorthanded all season. Joel Embiid has been out the last five games and has missed six games now this season. Tobias Harris is back now but missed six games of his own. And, of course, Ben Simmons has yet to play this season.
Enter Tyrese Maxey.
The talented sophomore is having a breakout campaign and has sneaked himself into the Most Improved Player race with his terrific game play. Maxey was one of my top-five prospects in last year’s draft before slipping all the way to the Sixers, and he’s starting to show why.
Maxey has found his shooting touch in a big way this season at 42% behind the arc, and he has a long stride and slippery handle with an ability to get downhill slithering to the rim and an uncanny finish and floater.
It’s all been on display these last five games without Embiid, and the numbers are booming. For the season, Maxey is averaging 17.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game. Already very good for a player so young in a tough spot, thrust into running the offense without Simmons!
But check out the leap during the past five games: 24.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists per game. The assists are down slightly, which will happen without Embiid, but the scoring is booming. Maxey has at least 16 points in all five games, and he’s averaging 32.6 points + rebounds + assists in that stretch.
Denver has defended very well this year, but the Sixers need a lot from Maxey again and he’s proving he’s able to provide it. In this five-game stretch, he’s crushed this PRA line twice on points alone and was a bucket away from doing it a third time.
If you can only play one, go with the points, but I’ll take the combo line because Maxey is also playing huge minutes with his young legs and a shorthanded team. He has our highest minutes projection on the slate. I’ll play the PRA over to -135.