NBA Player Prop Bets & Picks: Bradley Beal, Cade Cunningham, Jaren Jackson Jr. Highlight Friday’s Slate (January 21)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images. Pictured: Cade Cunningham
This is about the time of the season where it gets really hard betting the NBA some nights, because just about every team and player has burned us at some point. Suddenly, it feels like no one is good or reliable, that every bet will burn us again.
But bettors have to bet with short memories, and losses are just a learning point to get to the next win. Every time a player goes way under a prop we bet, the books also notice and adjust the line down for next time — and that means the value might be right back again. Every day is a new game. We start fresh.
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
Bradley Beal over 22.5 points (-110)
|Raptors vs. Wizards||Wizards -1|
|Time | TV||8 p.m. ET | League Pass|
It’s been a pretty weird season for Bradley Beal. The Wizards were one of the league’s big surprises early, but that was largely due to the additions the team got from the Russell Westbrook trade, with Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma especially notable in those opening weeks.
Beal’s scoring explosion from a year ago quickly regressed this season with more teammates to share the wealth, but Washington was winning so it made sense. The Wizards have regressed since, and Beal’s role has shifted a few times along the way.
From November 20 through New Year’s Day, Beal took on a much bigger facilitator role, averaging 6.8 assists per game with seven games of nine or more dimes, including a 17-assist explosion on New Year’s.
But most recently, Beal is back to being more of a scorer again. Through December 13, Beal had been averaging 22.4 points per game, and he was ice-cold on 3s at 27%. Since then, he’s up to 26.6 PPG, a marked increase, and it helps that he’s back to hitting 38% of his 3s again too.
This number is right at Beal’s scoring average through mid-December, but it hasn’t adjusted up yet to his increased scoring since. He’s gone over 22.5 points in nine of his last 11 games, an 82% hit rate. And though he’s under in two of his last three, those games bookended a week-long absence. Now that he’s back in his routine again, I expect him to clear the number like usual.
We project Beal at 26.8 points and give this prop a 13% edge in our favor. I’ll play to -130.
Cade Cunningham over 4.5 assists (+115), over 5.5 assists (+225)
|Pistons vs. Jazz||Jazz -14|
|Time | TV||9 p.m. ET | League Pass|
If you follow me on Twitter or on the Action app, your jaw probably just dropped all the way to the floor.
That’s because we played Cade Cunningham’s assists two nights ago on Wednesday and got absolutely demolished. With Killian Hayes a late scratch, I got tipped off by fellow Action Network analyst and props savant Joe Dellera that it was MotorCade time, and I jumped in whole hog.
In 6 games without Killian Hayes, Cade Cunningham has averaged 6.7 assists with just one game (his first) below 6.
His last 5 games without Hayes 9, 6, 7, 6, 10 assists
His prop lines:
This is worth an escalator 👀🐷💰
— Joe Dellera (@JoeDellera) January 20, 2022
Cunningham’s last five games without Hayes had produced 38 assists, a 7.6 APG rate, and it made sense. Cunningham is meant to be a lead handler and is a passing savant, but Detroit remains overcommitted to Hayes and unready to move on and turn over the reins to Cunningham. But with Hayes out of the way, it was Cunningham dime time. I jumped in and played his over 5.5 dimes, plus nibbles on alternate overs at 7.5 and 9.5.
And then the game started and it all went to hell. Cunningham got into foul trouble almost immediately and stayed that way, eventually fouling out. He ended up playing under 21 minutes, his lowest total since his debut. And for the first time in his NBA career, Cunningham failed to record a single assist. An absolute donut, and a complete bust on all our assist overs.
Well, here we are again, Hayes looks unlikely, and sometimes the only way back is to simply get right back on the horse again.
Look, props are binary — we either win or we lose. It really doesn’t matter how much we win or lose by. Zero might be embarrassing and frustrating in the moment, but all it does today is create opportunity and value.
These numbers are too long if Hayes is out again. Even with that clunker Wednesday night, Cunningham is still averaging 5.7 APG in games without Hayes in his way. And look at how this line swung literally overnight, from -160 to plus juice at +115 to get to just five assists, and +225 for one extra dime from there. The number is just too good to pass on. I have to do it.
If you have the stomach for it, the ceiling is still there for more. Stars bounce back after bad nights, and Cunningham will be a star in this league. You can play Cunningham to go over 7.5 assists at +680 at FanDuel, or an absurd +1700 for double-digit dimes. He’s only done that three times in his career, but the implied 5.6% is far too low and an overreaction to a career-low night.
Stars have to shrug off bad nights, and so do bettors. Sometimes we have to have a short memory. Besides, Cade — and Joe — owe us some money.
Jaren Jackson Jr. over 5.5 rebounds (-105)
|Grizzlies vs. Nuggets||Nuggets -3.5|
|Time | TV||9 p.m. ET | League Pass|
Ja Morant isn’t the only star having a breakout campaign for the Grizzlies. Memphis has long needed a second star next to Morant, and it looks like Jaren Jackson Jr. might finally be putting everything together.
Jackson’s numbers are way up over the last seven games as the Grizzlies continue to be absolutely on fire. He’s at 18.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, not far from averaging 20-10 on the nightly. That scoring output has been there for JJJ for awhile now, but the rebounding is what’s surprising.
In 39 games before this stretch, Jackson was at just 5.3 rebounds per game. That makes this a 57% leap in production on the glass, and that’s huge because of what it means for this team. Jackson plays as a stretch big, but he’s long struggled at the “big” part with foul trouble and a lack of rebounding.
But this year he’s getting the foul issues under control (knock on wood) and now the rebounding moving up is big too. It’s big because it means the Grizzlies can play more and more with Jackson as its big man, allowing them to stretch the floor even more for Morant’s slashes to the rims.
Jackson has gone over 5.5 rebounds in five of these last seven games. I’ll ride the rebounding wave. We project JJJ at 6.6 boards tonight, so I’ll play this over to -130.
Bonus Prop Bets
- Bam Adebayo, under 1.5 steals + blocks (+130 DraftKings): Bam was back with a vengeance last game with five steals and three blocks, but that was only his third game all season with 3+ stocks. He’s under this in 11 of 20 games, and the Hawks have the lowest turnover rate in the NBA.
- Scottie Barnes, over 5.5 rebounds (-150 PointsBet): The rookie’s role continues to fluctuate, and the counting numbers are down a bit over the last 10 games at 10.4 points, 6.5 boards and 3.5 assists. Rebounds down or not, he’s still had at least six boards in 30 of 35 games, an 86% hit rate here.
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