On Thursdays, we play stars.
It’s not as catchy as wearing pink on Wednesdays, and it’s not necessarily a maxim we’ll always follow either. With the NFL playoffs in full steam and Thursday games in the past, though, Thursdays belong to the NBA again now, and that means the league is putting its stars on Thursday nights — and we’re playing them.
Tonight, that means props for Kemba Walker, Luka Doncic and Stephen Curry.
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
Kemba Walker, Over 2.5 3-pointers (+135)
|Pelicans vs. Knicks||Knicks -4|
|Time | TV||7:30 p.m. ET | League Pass|
Walker finally returned after nearly a month away on Tuesday night against the Timberwolves, and he picked up right where he left off.
Walker was exiled from the Knicks earlier this season, but when Derrick Rose went down and left a gaping hole for an aging-but-still-great former All-Star scoring guard, Kemba was ready for the call. He had five excellent games, including one that saw him score 44 points, before he got injured in the sixth. Then, he returned in the starting lineup with 19 points against the Wolves.
During these six games since Rose has been out — not including the game with reduced minutes when Walker got hurt — Kemba is averaging 22.2 points per game. He’s done it with outstanding volume shooting behind the arc, taking 9.8 3-point attempts per game, a huge number, and averaging four makes. He’s gone over 2.5 made 3s in five of those six games, an 83% hit rate to this number.
Of course, Kemba isn’t going to keep shooting 41% from deep forever, so we’re due some regression at some point and that’s baked into this number. But the volume is key. With around 10 attempts per game, that gives us a lot of opportunity to get just three makes and hit our over.
This could also be a spot for an alternate over if you like, since Walker has games with four, five and seven 3s in this stretch. Or you could play a higher point total, since he’s scored 19 or more in four of the six, including a 29 and a 44. We also don’t know if he’ll be getting his full minutes load just yet, though, so it might be wise to stick with the more typical play.
I like Walker to keep the streaky shooting up, so I’ll play the over 2.5 made 3s at any plus number.
Luka Doncic, Over 7.5 Assists (-115)
|Suns vs. Mavericks||Mavericks +3|
|Time | TV||7:30 p.m. ET | TNT|
Remember when Doncic was starting slow once again and the Mavs looked lost under new head coach Jason Kidd? That feels long ago now. Kidd has Dallas playing outstanding defense, the Mavs are making a charge up the standings and Doncic is putting up big numbers again.
Over the last 10 Mavericks games, Doncic is averaging 23.9 points, 10.7 rebounds and 9.3 assists, just about a triple-double every night. The scoring is down a bit right now but it’s working, both for him and for Dallas.
We’ll focus on the assists tonight, because this number is just too low. Before this 10-game stretch, Doncic had missed three weeks of action, and his numbers look different since his return. During the first part of the season, he was at 25.6 points, 8.0 rebounds and 8.5 assists per game. It’s no coincidence that the Mavs are playing better as Doncic does a little less as a scorer but more in other areas of the game to help his team.
Doncic has gone over 7.5 assists in six of these last nine games, but the hidden numbers tell us even the unders have likely just been unlucky shooting by his teammates. That’s because Doncic is averaging a whopping 16.8 potential assists per game over this recent stretch per NBA Advanced Stats, a huge number that gives him a great shot at around nine assists a night or more if his teammates get hot. And sure enough, five of these nine games have seen double-digit dimes from Luka, including games with 12, 14, and 15.
Again, this could be a spot for an alternate over if you like, maybe 10 or 12 assists. Another way you can play aggressively is a Doncic triple-double, priced at +400 at DraftKings. That’s an implied 20%, but Luka has a triple-double in three of his last six games, a 50% hit rate. He’s had the points easily in all six and is one rebound away from double-digit boards in six straight too, so that’s essentially a bet on double-digit assists with a little more risk at a much better price.
If you want to play a few Doncic props together in a Same Game Parlay, one other prop to consider is Dorian Finney-Smith over 1.5 made 3s at +100 on DraftKings. Finney-Smith has made multiple 3s in 20 of 31 games with at least 30 minutes played, a 65% hit rate, and Dallas will surely need his wing defense out there against the Suns tonight as much as they can keep him on the court.
Sure enough, Finney-Smith has played twice against the Suns this season and hit a trio of 3s in each game.
We’re projecting Doncic at 9.5 assists, so that gives us a 20% edge here and makes the over 7.5 playable to -145. If you only have 8.5 available at your book, it might be time to try one of those alternate overs or a combination of the options above.
Steph Curry, Over 3.5 3-pointers (-150)
|Pacers vs. Warriors||Warriors -12|
|Time | TV||10 p.m. ET | TNT|
Curry sure went ice cold for awhile there.
From Jan. 3-13, Curry hit only 22% of his 3s. That’s probably not a bad number if you or I get up a few shots from behind the NBA arc, but it’s certainly not what we’ve come to expect from the Greatest Shooter of All Time.
Curry has made 43% of his career 3s, though this cold stretch over the middle portion of the season has left him at just 38.6% on the season, which would be the lowest mark of his career.
The great thing about betting on Steph, though, is that you know he can’t stay cold forever.
Curry has four makes in each of his past two games, and he’s right back to 44% from deep during those two. Even better, the volume never really fell during this stretch. He still took 9.0 attempts per game during that cold stretch and that’s right where he’s at the last two games. It’s down a bit from earlier in the season, but that makes sense with Klay Thompson back and might be a bit deflated anyway since Curry has played fewer minutes in blowout wins these last couple games.
I’m always willing to bet on Curry making four 3s in a game until proven otherwise. This line was at 4.5 for much of the season and should get back there again soon enough. He has gone over 3.5 makes in 29 of his 40 games, a 73% hit rate to this prop even in his worst shooting season ever, which makes for a laughable statement if there ever was one.
At -150, we’re still at an implied 60% hit rate and have real margin for error, so I’m happy to play to -175. If it goes past that, I may pivot to an alternate over and go for five or six makes, but the books have learned not to give us very good lines on those with Curry. He’s just too darn good. Steph hasn’t made more than four 3s since New Year’s Day anyway, so let’s take the easier play.
We’re projecting Curry at 5.7 makes tonight. The only real worry here is another blowout win against a shorthanded Pacers team, but Indiana always seems to find a way to hang around and make things interesting before losing, so hopefully we get our shots in as the Splash Brothers find their rhythm.