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Friday NBA Player Prop Bets & Picks: Bobby Portis, Jaxson Hayes Worth Targeting

Friday NBA Player Prop Bets & Picks: Bobby Portis, Jaxson Hayes Worth Targeting article feature image
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Sean Gardner/Getty Images. Pictured: Jaxson Hayes

  • There are nine games on the NBA's Friday slate and a plethora of prop betting options.
  • We're targeting three big men tonight who it appears the market has undervalued.
  • Continue reading for three prop betting recommendations from tonight's NBA slate.

Well, we sure had fun on Super Trey Day, didn’t we? Thursday was our biggest props win of the season as we hit on a pair of First Basket Scorer angles, 8-to-1 on Ivica Zubac and 17-to-1 on our Trey Lyles long shot. We even had a few out there parlay Zubac and Lyles together for a wild 161-to-1 hit!

Today, we’re going back to the well on some of these lesser-known big men hoping to keep our success rolling, including one name we already hit for a big win on Wednesday. The role of these tweener big men is always evolving in the modern NBA, and we can play their props as we recognize role shifts.

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 five 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

Isaiah Jackson, over 10.5 points (-120), over 14.5 points (+255)

Pacers vs. Pistons Pacers -3.5
Time | TV 7 p.m. ET | League Pass
Best Book FanDuel

We smashed a pair of Isaiah Jackson overs on Wednesday night and had big success, hitting his traditional points over and nailing his alternate over at +350 too. Tonight, we’re going back for the exact same two props.

Well, not exactly the same, since the books are starting to catch on to Jackson’s production and adjust — but they haven’t adjusted enough yet.

Like others around the league, Jackson is thriving in a hybrid big man role, and the bouncy rookie is getting a ton of minutes and run for an Indiana team in full-on rebuild mode. The Pacers are giving their rookie big minutes and higher usage than he’d normally see at this point because they’re working hard to develop Jackson and see what they’ve got. And right now, it’s looking like they’ve got something pretty good.

Jackson had 16 points and five boards his last time out, and that brings his averages to 15.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game in his last five starts (outside of one game when he left hurt in the first minute). The rebounding and physicality will need some work, but Jackson’s vertical threat is buying him easy buckets at the rim, and that should continue against a Pistons team not exactly oozing defense these days.

Jackson has now played at least 15 minutes eight times this season. He’s averaging an even 15.0 PPG in those games and has gone over this line in seven of them, hitting this over 88% of the time even as the line starts to adjust up. He’s also scored 15 or more points in half of those games, hitting the alternate line 50% of the time versus an implied 28% here.

Jackson also has multiple blocks in four of his last five starts, so you can play that line as part of a Same Game Parlay too if you like, at over 1.5 blocks at -140. The Pistons are top five in most blocks allowed to opponents.

The rookie is getting minutes, and we’re banking on minutes and sheer athleticism continuing to turn into production. We project Jackson at 12.4 points, and I’ll play the traditional points over to -150.


Bobby Portis, over 8.5 rebounds (+105), double-double (+190)

Bucks vs. Bulls Bucks -5.5
Time | TV 7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN
Best Book DraftKings

Bo…….bby. Bo……bby. Bo……bby.

If you close your eyes, you can probably still hear the rabid Milwaukee Bucks fans rooting on one of their favorites all last postseason en route to their title run. Bobby Portis plays like a manic in all the best ways. His energy is contagious, to to both his teammates and the crowd, and he plays with reckless abandon, chasing after rebounds and going for every 50/50 ball.

Of course, you don’t have to tell that to Bulls fans. Before Bucks backers ever fell in love with Portis, the hometown Chicago crowd adored their former Arkansas star. Portis has been a fan favorite everywhere he goes, to the extent that it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see him get some of those cheers tonight even on the road.

But we need rebounds, not chants. And luckily, we should get those too.

Portis has been the de facto starting center for the Bucks this season, playing next to Giannis Antetokounmpo with Brook Lopez still out injured. And Portis has been a very steady producer for the defending champs. He’s played big minutes most of the season, routinely playing somewhere in the range of 27 to 34 minutes unless it’s a blowout, and this big division battle shouldn’t be a blowout.

In games with at least 27 minutes this season, Portis is averaging a robust 10.2 rebounds per game, and he’s gone over this line in 24 of 37 such games, hitting this over 65% of the time when the minutes are there. That includes his last game against the Bulls, when Portis racked up 13 boards. That makes this rebounding prop a fine play, especially at plus juice.

But we can get even more aggressive. In 20 of the 24 times Portis has hit this over, he’s also recorded a double-double. He missed it by one rebound three times and had a rare anomaly scoring game in the other. That  means Portis has a double-double in 54% of his games this season when he plays 27 minutes or more. That should imply a line with some slight juice and a minus in front, but we’re getting almost 2-to-1.

I’ll split my bet and play a bit of both. The numbers tell us Portis is very unlikely to hit the rebounding over and not also get a double-double, and the difference is close enough that it’s more than worth it when we are getting almost twice the payout.

We project Portis at 17.1 points and right at 10.0 rebounds. I’ll play the rebounding over to -120 and the Portis double-double at +160 or better.

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Jaxson Hayes, over 10.5 points (-104)

Jazz vs. Pelicans Jazz -4
Time | TV 8 p.m. ET | League Pass
Best Book FanDuel

Yep, we’re going back to the well with yet another one of these tweener big men. For awhile, it looked like guys like this were starting to lose their spot in the league with the NBA going smaller, leaving some of these bigs without a position. Guys like Jaxson Hayes aren’t big and bulky enough to guard many traditional centers, but also weren’t quick or versatile enough to play like an oversized wing, the way it looked like the “power forward” position was trending.

Lately, though, we’re seeing these hybrid players thrive, often playing next to another big man. Robert Williams has broken out in that role in Boston, and lately young Hayes is quietly seeing a similar statistical breakout with the Pelicans. Hayes is playing the four next to Jonas Valanciunas rather than backing him up at center, and the combo is working.

The Pelicans’ defense has been revitalized with Hayes starting at the four, posting a pristine 99 Defensive Rating in his starts when he’s on the floor, and they have an awesome 149 Offensive Rating to boot. New Orleans is 6-2 in those Hayes starts, and the counting numbers have been there too. He’s averaging 14.0 points and 7.5 rebounds in eight starts.

The minutes are not yet a guarantee with Hayes, because he still gets into quick foul trouble at times, so that and a tough Utah defense are the biggest risks here. But when Hayes plays 25 or more minutes this season, he’s averaging 16.0 PPG and has gone over this line in nine of 10 games, a 90% hit rate. And even when that drops to 20-plus minutes, he’s still at 14.3 PPG and hitting this over in 79% of his 14 such appearances.

If you want to follow the Isaiah Jackson trend and bet Hayes to score 15-plus points, he is at +250 to do that. We do project him at 15.1 points. But as tough as Utah is, and with Hayes a bit less proven, I’ll lean toward putting more of my bet on the traditional over. Our Props Tool rates that a 10 out of 10 and I’ll play up to -130.

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Bonus Prop Bets

  • Buddy Hield, over 3.5 threes (+115 DraftKings): Hield is firing away in Indiana, averaging 3.5 treys in 9.3 attempts and hitting 38% of his 3s. He’s had nine or more attempts in 63% of his Pacers games and hit this over in half of them, and the volume didn’t drop with Malcolm Brogdon playing. The plus juice makes this worth a play at this volume.
  • Isaac Okoro, over 6.5 points (-125 DraftKings): Okoro is starting out of necessity for the Cavs, and though he’s not much of a scorer, this is just a super low line for someone playing this much. He’s gone under it in five of the last six but been a bucket away each time, and he’s still over 6.5 in 11 of 17 games (65%) since moving into the starting lineup. With 25-plus minutes this season, Okoro averages 9.2 PPG and has gone over this line 69% of the time.

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