NBA Player Prop Bets & Picks: Back Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for a Big Showing (Monday, Dec. 28)
Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
It’s our first Monday of the new season, and we’re starting to settle into a groove. This is a bit of a sweet spot for playing props. We’ve got a game or two of data for each team now, enough to spot some new trends, but the books haven’t quite adjusted the lines yet to remove that value in some cases.
We’re off to a great Dolly Parton-esque start at 9-5 on props so far this season and tonight we’ll look to keep the good times rolling with two of the slate’s five games. The first comes from a fun Grizzlies-Nets game on NBA TV, while the latter two props are from opposite sides of a Thunder-Jazz game with some value from both teams’ stars.
For those who are new to this article, we’ll be using the NBA Insiders 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.
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
Ja Morant, Under 4.5 Rebounds (+105)
|Grizzlies at Nets||Nets -3.5|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
It sure looks like Ja Morant is on his way to making one of those sophomore leaps we’ve come to expect from NBA superstars. Luka Doncic and Trae Young did it last year, and Morant appears to be following suit. Through two games, Morant is averaging 36 points and 8 assists, attacking the rim all game long and putting the Grizzlies on his back.
It doesn’t seem wise to bet against Morant right now, and it certainly doesn’t seem fun.
I don’t know about you, but I have fun making money, so we’re fading Morant anyway. This 4.5 rebounding line feels off. Morant averaged 3.9 RPG as a rookie and has only five boards in two games this season (2.5 RPG). Morant has played 69 NBA games in his career. He’s gone over 4.5 rebounds in only 21 of them, hitting this over just 30.4% of the time.
We’re going under, especially with +EV odds. We are projecting Morant at 3.7 rebounds, right at his average, and our Props tool rates this a 10 out of 10. I love this prop at +EV but will play it to -120.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Over 19.5 Points (-125)
|Jazz at Thunder||Jazz -8.5|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander over 19.5 points -125
Remember last year’s Thunder? They don’t exist anymore. Chris Paul is gone. Danilo Gallinari is gone. Steven Adams is a Pelican. Dennis Schroder is a Laker. This is a youth movement team now.
But do you know who led this team in scoring last year, even as the West 5-seed, even with those four very good players around? It was another one of last year’s sophomore breakout stars, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. SGA leapt to 19.0 PPG, and that’s about in line with this point total we have been gifted with today.
But shouldn’t this line be a few points higher? The Thunder lost a whole lot of offense without all those stars, and SGA is very clearly going to lead this team in scoring this season and most nights. He probably won’t have the easiest time scoring against a tough Jazz defense, but we don’t get points for efficiency. We just need 20 points any way, any how.
Gilgeous-Alexander had 24 in the Thunder opener, and remember, they’ve only played once so far because of the Rockets postponement. I suspect SGA will end up averaging low to mid 20s and that this line will reflect that within a week or two, but for now, we’re playing the over. Who else is going to score on this team? Lu Dort? George Hill? Al Horford? These guys are not scorers. SGA will be the engine of this offense.
We project Gilgeous-Alexander at 24.2 points, and that 22-to-24 range is where I expect him to end up this year, and where I think this line ought to be. Take advantage of the low line while it’s there. It won’t be below 20 for long.
I’ll play over 19.5 up to -150 but all the better if this jumps to 20.5 and I get even better odds.
Rudy Gobert, Over 11.5 Rebounds (-115)
|Jazz at Thunder||Jazz -8.5|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
We’ll stay in the game for our final prop of the day and ride a red hot rebounding monster who looks like he could challenge for the rebounding title at the rate he’s playing.
Rudy Gobert got a monster contract extension heading into the season, and he’s looking worth every penny right now. Gobert is averaging 19 points and 17 rebounds a game after a pair of outings, and he’s had exactly 17 boards both times out. That number is up from last year’s 13.5 RPG, which was a career high, and that was up from a career-best 12.9 RPG the previous season.
All the better that Gobert is facing this year’s Thunder and not last year’s. Steven Adams is a mountain on the glass, but Horford plays away from the rim more and is nowhere near as dangerous a rebounder. Gobert will get first dibs on any rebound and should stack them up while on the court.
My one concern here is a Jazz blowout against an outmatched Thunder team, since it’s hard to rebound if you’re sitting on the bench in the fourth quarter watching. But the way Gobert is racking up boards, we might have some margin of error anyway. All three of our props today are rated 10 of 10. I’ll play this one to -145.