It’s a full slate tonight but a very tricky one, with all sorts of names missing. Whether it’s the growing list of stars to injuries or the never-ending COVID news cycle, things are starting to get very tricky in the NBA.
That means it’s a pretty lean props board tonight, with so little certainty over who will play for each team, so we’ll tread carefully and play a half unit on each prop tonight. But it also often means potential opportunity late in the day as lines post just before games, so be sure to check the Props Tool near tip.
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
Doug McDermott, over 12.5 points (-110)
|Hornets at Spurs||Spurs -3|
|Time | TV||8:30 p.m. ET | League Pass|
With shooters, sometimes you just gotta ride the hot hand.
McDermott has started every one of his games with the Spurs this season, but he’s had a hard time getting into rhythm. Though he scored 25 points his third game with the team, he averaged only 10.4 PPG over the first 12 games and missed two chunks of time with injuries.
But since returning from that second stint, McDermott has been on fire. In the seven games since, he’s averaging 12.3 PPG, but that includes one dud where he went 0-for-3 from the field and played under 15 minutes in a quick hook. Excluding that dud, McDermott scored 13 or more in every other game of this stretch, putting up 14.4 PPG with multiple 3s in all but one of them and 10.8 field goal attempts per game, up a couple from his pace early in the season.
McDermott should get his shots up against a Hornets team that’s missing a bunch of guys and not very good defensively anyway. We project Dougie McFresh at 15.6 points, so that gives this prop a 17% edge in our favor and makes it a 10 out of 10 on our rating scale. I’ll play to -130.
Jarred Vanderbilt, Over 9.5 REB (+118) | Over 11.5 (+280) | Over 13.5 (+600)
|Timberwolves vs. Nuggets||Timberwolves +4.5|
|Time | TV||9 p.m. ET | League Pass|
If things are tight, it’s always nice to fall back on an old friend. If you’ve been following this column all season, you know that probably means Jarred Vanderbilt. We’ve played Vanderbilt successfully a few times already, often on big alternate line hits, and it’s always for his one elite skill: rebounding.
Vanderbilt is an energy guy. He plays at 110% at every moment, chases after every loose ball, and racks up a metric ton of rebounds. That was his standout skill as a recruit and in college at Kentucky, and it’s carried over to the pros. Vanderbilt averages one rebound every 3.0 minutes for his career, and he’s been even better this year with that number down to 2.9.
Minnesota inserted Vanderbilt into its starting lineup this season, and he’s playing over 31 minutes per game over the last seven games, his highest stretch of the season. He’s averaging 10.6 RPG in that stretch, basically right at his usual per-minute pace. In 19 starts this season, Vanderbilt has hit double-digit rebounds nine times, just under half of them.
All the better that the Wolves are playing Denver. Minnesota has the worst defensive rebounding percentage in the league — that’s part of why they’re playing Vando more lately — but Denver ranks second to last in offensive rebounding percentage so that evens things out. Karl-Anthony Towns also struggles as much against Nikola Jokic as any opponent in his career, with frequent foul trouble, so that could lead to more Vanderbilt minutes and rebounding opportunities.
And if you’ve followed Vanderbilt at all, you know that when the rebounds spike, they can really hit big. Vando has 12 or more rebounds in seven of his 19 starts (37%), and we can play that alternate over at +280 (implied 26% hit rate). He’s had at least 14 rebounds three times already this season too, so I’ll sprinkle a little on that high-end outcome as well.
Don’t go too crazy here. I’ll do a half unit on the over-9.5 and another half on the over-11.5, splitting my unit bet in two. Vanderbilt can get into foul trouble himself, and we’re DOA if his minutes drop. But in his nine games this year with at least 27 minutes, Vanderbilt is averaging 11.4 RPG with 12 or more boards in six of the nine, so if we get our minutes, we’ve got potential for a big hit.
Royce O’Neale, over 5.5 rebounds (+120)
|Clippers vs. Jazz||Clippers +9|
|Time | TV||10 p.m. ET | ESPN|
The last time the Jazz saw the Clippers, things didn’t end so well. Utah blitzed through the NBA last regular season and had high hopes for a run to the Finals, but things ended abruptly when they ran into a Clippers buzzsaw. Even without Kawhi Leonard, LA shot the lights out and ruined Utah’s postseason run by spreading the Jazz out, leaving Rudy Gobert flailing on an island, and exposing Utah’s flaws.
It remains to be seen whether the Jazz have any solutions for that this season, but one thing we know for sure is that Utah will almost certainly need their one great defensive wing to play as many minutes as he can handle against Paul George and that spread-out offense. And that’s why we’re backing Royce O’Neale for a big night.
O’Neale had a big series against Utah, relatively speaking. He doesn’t put up big conventional numbers but played a huge workload at 38.6 minutes per game, and he averaged 11.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. I’m banking on the minutes being high again, and minutes lead to rebounding opportunities.
O’Neale had at least six boards in all but one of those Clippers games, and that’s what we need for tonight’s overs. We’re projecting him at 6.7 rebounds, so I like this one at any plus number.
Bonus Prop Bets
- Dewayne Dedmon, over 9.5 rebounds + assists (+105 DraftKings): With Bam Adebayo out, Dedmon should see bigger minutes, especially if Joel Embiid plays since P.J. Tucker just isn’t big enough. In five games with 24+ minutes this year, multiple assists and over this line in four of them.
- Jalen Brunson, double-double (+225 PointsBet): With Luka Doncic out this season, Brunson has recorded at least eight assists in five of the six games with double-digit points in all of them. Play an alternate over-7.5 assists line at plus juice if you find one, or get more aggressive and hope for 10 dimes here.