NBA Player Prop Bets, Picks: 3 Unders For Tuesday’s Slate, Including Khris Middleton Assists (March 2)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images. Pictured: Khris Middleton
It’s Fade the Stars Night here at Action Network!
It’s been a long and grueling season NBA already, and it feels like many of these teams are just gasping for air, trying to make it to the All-Star Break. We’re getting more blowouts, wonky minutes and lineups, and that means I’m looking to play unders as we head to the break. And on a lighter slate tonight, I see three stars worth fading.
For those who are new to this article, we’ll be using the Action Labs Player Prop tool to compare our NBA projections to the props posted at a variety of sportsbooks. Each bet is then graded on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the best possible grade.
Tonight, there are a whopping 10 bets graded as a 10 or higher.
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
Russell Westbrook under 24.5 points (-112)
|Grizzlies at Wizards||+1|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
Don’t look now, but Russell Westbrook is a couple rebounds and a handful of assists from averaging yet another triple-double for the season. Remember when that was fun and novel? That ship has sailed now, and I’ll listen if you want to argue that Westbrook isn’t even an NBA star anymore. Consider that he’s basically averaging 20/10/10 and didn’t even cross anyone’s mind as an All-Star snub this season, let alone an actual All Star.
Westbrook’s scoring efficiency has fallen even further this season. He’s shooting just 42% on the season and his free throw attempts have fallen to under six per game, and he’s made only 60% of his freebies on the year. He’s also not hitting 3’s anymore. Not that Westbrook was ever good at shooting 3’s, but this year he’s at 28% on the season, and he’s not even shooting them lately (yes, that’s a good thing), with just two makes in the last 10 games combined.
Westbrook’s scoring has remained steady during that stretch at 20.2 PPG, and he’s contributing a bit more as a passer and rebounder. He’s still doing his triple-double thing. Westbrook already has more triple-doubles in a season than any player in Washington franchise history, and we aren’t even at the All-Star break of a shortened season yet.
I’m just not sure why this scoring line is so high or which Westbrook season these books have been watching. Westbrook has gone under this line in 21 of 25 games this year (84%). Opposing guards have had big games against Ja Morant this season, but Memphis should slow down Washington’s frenetic pace some and 25 points has been a steep ask from Russ this season, especially with Bradley Beal pouring in 30-plus points a night.
I had to triple check to make sure this line was right. We project Westbrook at 22.3 points, and I think he tops out around 20. I’m fading Russ and would play this one all the way to -175.
Jonas Valanciunas under 12.5 rebounds (-108)
|Grizzlies at Wizards||-1|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
Jonas Valanciunas is an old school kind of player. He likes to get the ball in the post, grind things to a halt, shake and bake a little bit, and do his thing. Valanciunas is straight out of the 90s. He attacks the boards with abandon and is a walking double-double, with 18 in 25 games this season.
A game against the Wizards is always bound to have a ton of shots and scoring, and that means plenty of rebounds to go around. But does Valanciunas fit that style of game? I worry that the Wizards will get out and run and that JV won’t necessarily fit in well enough to play big minutes. He’s the sort of guy whose minutes wax and wane quite a bit in the right or wrong matchup, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a more muted performance tonight.
Even if Valanciunas does play a lot, 13 rebounds is simply a lot to ask. Valanciunas can certainly get there. He’s done so nine times this season, with six games of 15 or more and even one outing with 20 boards. Valanciunas has the rebounding prowess to go way over this line and make us feel silly.
But nine games of 13 boards means 16 other games where he’s gone under, hitting this under prop 64% of the time. Those odds are in our favor, even for a great rebounder, simply because this is such a high line. We project Valanciunas at 10.5 rebounds in 29.5 minutes tonight, giving this prop a 17% edge in our favor. I’ll play the under to -140.
Khris Middleton under 6.5 assists (-140)
|Nuggets at Bucks||-7|
|Time||9 p.m. ET|
What’s cooler than being cold? ICE cold, according to Outkast, and that’s the sort of cold stretch Khris Middleton has been on over the past few weeks — at least compared to his usual production.
Middleton was a couple buckets away from a 50/40/90 season last year and started this year even better. Through Feb. 8, he was averaging almost 21 points, six assists, and six rebounds a game with blistering 52/45/94 shooting splits. But Middleton’s production has dropped since then. He’s fallen below 20 PPG, and his shooting touch seems off with his field goal percentage down to below 46% and his free throw percentage below 80%.
Not coincidentally, the Bucks lost five in a row to start that stretch, which also coincided with the absence of Jrue Holiday. Holiday is back now and Middleton has started to find his groove again, but he’s still averaging only 5.1 assists per game over these last 10 games and he’s gone under 6.5 dimes in eight of his last nine. Even including earlier in the season when Middleton was hotter, he’s gone under this line in 23 of 34 games, hitting this under almost 68% of the time.
Seven assists is a lot to ask from a guy who will be the tertiary playmaker with Holiday back and Giannis Antetokounmpo back to MVP form of late. I’m seeing this line at 5.5 at some books and far prefer the 6.5 to give a little cushion, since we project him at 5.0 assists tonight. I’ll play the under 6.5 at FanDuel as high as -175.