The NBA tipped off last night with the Nuggets receiving their rings before knocking off the Lakers once again. The Suns also topped the Warriors in San Francisco in a game filled with reunions on both sides. However, tonight is the first large slate of the season with 12 games on the schedule.
We’ll begin in Indiana where former Warrior Jordan Poole will make his regular season debut with the Wizards. With that will come new responsibilities as the Wizards No. 1 option.
After making the play-in tournament last season and having Chet Holmgren healthy for his first NBA season, expectations are high for Oklahoma City this season. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will look to lead the Thunder to a victory over the Bulls tonight.
Expectations are also very high for Victor Wembanyama, dubbed as the best prospect since LeBron James and ever by some. He projects to impact the game at a high level on both ends. Tonight, I’ll be backing his prowess as a defender.
NBA Player Props Today
Jordan Poole Over 2.5 Turnovers (-145)
|Time | TV||7:10 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
The Wizards began the first stages of their rebuild this summer, shipping out long-time franchise stalwart Bradley Beal in a three-team deal with the Suns and Warriors that landed Jordan Poole in the nation’s capital. In addition to Beal, the Wizards also lost Kristaps Porzingis to the Celtics. Kyle Kuzma returns, but Poole should assume the mantle as the No.1 scoring option.
Last Wednesday, Poole scored 41 points in just 27 minutes and his points line is at 24.5 tonight. While I lean towards the over there, Poole also had four turnovers in that game. He had at least two turnovers in three of the four preseason games he played in, hitting this line in two of them. However, we have already seen when Poole is elevated to the primary scoring option on his team, he can get a bit loose with the ball.
Last season, Poole played 25 games without Stephen Curry with the Warriors. In those games, he had three or more turnovers 21 times, hitting this line at an 84% clip. He also averaged 3.92 turnovers per game in that span. He also had at least four turnovers in 16 of those games.
In addition to Poole, the Wizards also acquired Tyus Jones to be their starting point guard. While Jones will handle the ball a lot, Poole will see a high usage rate as well. I’m expecting that will result an increase in his turnovers in addition to his points.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Top Points Scorer (-115)
|Time | TV||8:10 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been one of the league’s best young players for several years. In both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons, he averaged at least 23 points per game. However, he elevated his game to All-NBA level last season. Gilgeous-Alexander averaged a career-high 31.4 points per game while shooting 51% from the field and 90.5% at the free throw line, which were both career-highs as well.
Tonight, Gilegous-Alexander’s points line is at 29.5 and he hit this line in one of the two meetings against the Bulls last season, scoring exactly 30 points last November. I lean towards the over, but instead I am targeting him to be the game’s leading scorer instead. Gilgeous-Alexander is the favorite to be the leading scorer ahead of Zach LaVine (+210) and DeMar DeRozan (+450). In the November meeting, DeRozan scored 30 points as well, which would result in a dead heat.
In the second meeting, LaVine led the Bulls with 25 points while Josh Giddey also scored 25 points for the Thunder. While LaVine and DeRozan are both capable of big scoring nights, they also may cancel each other out. Last season, LaVine (24.8) and DeRozan (24.5) both averaged just under 25 points per game and in the neighborhood of 18 field goal attempts per game. Gilgeous-Alexander averaged five more field goal attempts than his next closest teammate -Josh Giddey- last season. While Chet Holmgren is added to the mix this season and Jalen Williams is another candidate as well, I do not expect either of them to score 30 points tonight.
Gilgeous-Alexander may go under his points line with 27 or 28 points per game. However, he may still be the leading scorer in the game if LaVine and DeRozan both score 25 points or less. Additionally, Holmgren’s rim protection could be a factor in slowing down DeRozan, who thrives scoring in the midrange area and in the paint. Nikola Vucevic will not pose the same impediment for Gilgeous-Alexander.
Victor Wembanyama Over 2.5 Blocks (+115)
|Time | TV||9:40 p.m. ET | ESPN|
Victor Wembanyama comes over to America with guard-like offensive skills in a 7-foot-4 frame. However, his length makes him an imposing defender as well. Wembanyama will need to add strength to his frame, but he will immediately alter shots at the rim. However, he is also nimble enough to hold his own when he is switched on the perimeter as well.
Last season, Wembanyama averaged 3.2 blocks per game for the Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 in France’s Pro A League. He hit this line in two of four preseason, including two of three in which he played 20 minutes. In Wembanyama’s final preseason game, he had five blocks against the Warriors, but in the process he showed off his defensive versatility. He blocked two 3-point attempts along off Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson and he blocked three more shots at the rim, with two more coming off Wiggins.
Tonight, he will go against the Dallas Mavericks, who have two of the league’s elite scorers in Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. Doncic and Irving can both get into the lane at will and make defenders look silly isolated on an island. While getting switched on one of them would be not ideal for Wembanyama, he can still get one of their shots on the perimeter. He will also have plenty of opportunities to block one of their field goal attempts on drives to the basket as well in addition to the rest of their teammates.
Last season, Nic Claxton and Brook Lopez were tied second in the league, averaging 2.5 blocks per game. That means the oddsmakers are already projecting Wembanyama to be among the game’s top shot blockers. If he plays 30 minutes, one block per 10 minutes would cash this line. I expecting Wembanyama’s blocks line to move to 3.5 sooner rather than later this season. I am taking advantage of 2.5 while it is still at plus money.