Thursday's NBA Player Props: Buy Jaren Jackson's Improved Shooting?

Action Network NBA betting analyst Brandon Anderson details the top prop bets for Thursday's slate, including why he's buying in on Jaren Jackson.

Did everyone have a nice All-Star Break? It was a great chance to catch our breath, but we’re back now after six days without games and ready to hit the home stretch. We’ve got new-look Nets and 76ers teams — at some point — and we’ll have to see what the Suns look like without Chris Paul.

Since everyone’s coming off the break, we even get a rare seven-game Thursday slate, which means plenty of games and angles.

I’m diving in with three main prop bets and three other bets you can consider, plus a couple futures along the way, using the Action Labs Player Prop tool to compare our NBA projections to the props posted at a variety of sportsbooks.

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NBA Player Props & Picks

Evan Mobley, Under 3.5 Assists (-164)

Cavaliers vs. Pistons Cavaliers -6
Time | TV 7 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass
Best Book FanDuel

Evan Mobley has had himself a heck of a rookie season. Mobley is the heavy Rookie of the Year favorite at every book and might even be a potential Defensive Player of the Year if that race opens up as Draymond Green’s injury lingers.

Mobley is a defensive savant with his hand placement on blocks and ability to move laterally to stay with smaller players. The offense is coming along too, and Mobley showed off his shot in front of the home crowd at several of the All-Star Weekend festivities.

Mobley is a very nice passer too — we saw some of that at the All-Star competitions as well. But we’re back to traditional basketball now, and while the rookie is doing a lot for the Cavs already, he’s not piloting the offense just yet. That job falls to first-time All-Star Darius Garland, longtime veteran Rajon Rondo, and new Cleveland acquisition Caris LeVert.

The Cavs badly needed a second creator with Collin Sexton out, and they’ve quickly inserted LeVert into a playmaking role. Mobley has gone under 3.5 assists in 74% of his games on the season, and he’s dipped slightly further at 2.5 APG in four games since LeVert arrived, and that includes one game without Garland and another without Rondo. He’s under in three of those four, consistently going under about 75% of the time, which means this prop should be closer to -300, not half that.

If you want to stick with a Mobley fade, you might also consider the under on his points line at 16.5. He’s gone under that in 11 of his last 17, averaging 14.9 PPG during that stretch, and that’s another area where he’s ceding some ground to LeVert. You can parlay those two unders together if you like, and all the better if Mobley’s minutes are cut short if the Cavs roll the lowly Pistons.

Al Horford, Over 6.5 REB (-110) | Over 7.5 REB (+155)

Celtics vs. Nets Celtics -9
Time | TV 7:30 p.m. ET | TNT
Best Book PointsBet

The Boston Celtics entered the All-Star Break as one of the league’s hottest teams, and they’ll have a nice chance to come out of the break just as hot against a Nets team still missing all of its biggest names.

The biggest reason for Boston’s awesome play of late has been their defense. And if you’ve been watching the Celtics lately, you know there are two key reasons for that improvement. The deadline additions of Derrick White and Daniel Theis in place of Dennis Schroder and Enes Freedom were huge swings, but Boston’s defense was already tops in the league the month prior to that.

That’s because first-year coach Ime Udoka made a big change, shifting Robert Williams out of the paint and sliding him out to the perimeter, effectively guarding forwards instead of centers. That’s left Al Horford as the de facto center, an elite switcher that gums up opposing offenses, and it means Williams can wreck off-ball as a shot blocker and help defender. It’s why I’ve been backing Timelord at +5000 as a DPOY sleeper.

But there’s another more immediate way we can play this shift. With Williams further away from the basket and Horford playing more “center,” that’s also shifting the rebounding totals in Boston. Timelord’s rebounding has shifted toward the offensive end, and Horford’s defensive rebounding numbers are way up, at 7.1 DRPG over the last 10 versus 5.7 per game the rest of the season.

That jump in defensive rebounding has put Horford at 8.6 RPG over the last 10 games. He’s over this line in seven of those 10 (70%) with at least nine boards in six of those games. And really, this line is low for the season anyway, with Horford going over 6.5 boards in 67% of his games on the year.

I think this line should be 7.5 and probably will be soon. I’ll play the traditional over and then play an equal amount on the alternate over, since Horford grabbing eight-plus boards plays at +155 for one only one additional board.

You can play for double-digit rebounds at +425 if you want to take this one step further, and he’s done that in four of these last 10, but I’m concerned Boston could take care of business quickly and limit minutes here so I’ll stick with the over 6.5 and 7.5  plays.

Jaren Jackson Jr., Over 1.5 3-Pointers (+105)

Grizzlies vs. Timberwolves Grizzlies -2
Time | TV 8 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass
Best Book DraftKings

Jaren Jackson Jr. is finally putting everything together for the Grizzlies, and it’s no coincidence that Memphis is taking off as JJJ makes the leap. Jackson is easily the second-most important Grizzly behind Ja Morant, and the team has improved as he’s cut his foul rate, improved on the glass, and become a much more consistent defender.

One area that hasn’t been consistent this season for Jackson has been his shooting. Over his first 26 games, Jackson shot the ball well at 35% from behind the arc, hitting 2.2 3s per game on 6.2 attempts with multiple 3s in 19 of 26 games.

But from Dec. 13 through the end of January, Jackson’s role and confidence shifted. He plummeted to just 1.1 makes per game on only 4.4 attempts, hitting only 25% of his treys with only four multi-make games. That means Jackson went under this line in 85% of his games during that period.

Well, it looks like the shooting is back. Over the past seven games entering the break, Jackson had multiple 3s in five games, averaging 2.3 makes on 6.7 attempts, right back to his numbers from the start of the season. Combine this recent stretch with that period before Dec. 13 and Jackson has gone over this line in 24 of 33 games, hitting this over 73% of the time and making it a strong play at even odds.

The Timberwolves allow the sixth-most 3-point attempts in the NBA, so Jackson should get his shots up. If you want to play this more aggressively, you can play JJJ to hit at least a trio of 3s at +330 at FanDuel. That implies a 23% hit rate, but Jackson’s done that in 13 of his 33 games during the positive stretches, hitting that line 39% of the time.

I’ll play the over 1.5 makes at any plus number or as far as -125.

Bonus Prop Bets

  • Saddiq Bey, Over 7.5 REB  + AST (-130 DraftKings): Bey has broken out the last eight games at 19.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game. While the scoring remains a bit inconsistent, he’s averaging 11.1 rebounds + assists, well over this line. He hit this over in six of those eight (75%) and 57% on the season. As my colleague Matt Moore says, #SaddiqBeyIsGood.
  • Andre Drummond, Under 2.5 Assists (+120 DraftKings): Drummond averages only 1.7 assists per 36 for his career, but he’s up to a career-high 3.9 per 36 this season. That included a weird stretch at 6.7 per 36 his final five games in Philly, but he’s in Brooklyn now so I’m not sure those numbers are particularly relevant. He’s playing only 21.7 MPG with the Nets and has 12 Potential Assists in three games, going under this in two of three.
  • Bruce Brown, Over 9.5 Points (+102 FanDuel): Brown is picking up the slack lately, averaging 33.3 MPG the last three games since the trades left the Nets even more shorthanded. In nine games this season with 30-plus minutes, he averages 10.8 PPG and has gone over this line in 78% of them. We project him at 10.9 points, and he should get the minutes and opportunities.