NBA Player Prop Bets, Picks: Buy Khris Middleton on Saturday as Giannis Works Back (April 17)

NBA Player Prop Bets, Picks: Buy Khris Middleton on Saturday as Giannis Works Back (April 17) article feature image
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Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Khris Middleton.

  • Typically bettors stay away from props with 0.5 or 1.5 totals, but that shouldn't be the case today.
  • Brandon Anderson is taking on two low numbers in Warriors vs. Celtics and Grizzlies vs. Bucks.
  • See what he's playing on today's NBA slate, below.

Anytime you play a prop at just 0.5 or 1.5, it’s going to be a sweat. Especially if you go under, you could have the perfect game for 47 minutes and lose it in the final minute. That can make it tempting to avoid such low lines altogether.

But every bet is playable at the right number, and today we’re playing a pair of props at 1.5 each, one over and one under, because the numbers are in our favor.

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.

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

Tristan Thompson, under 1.5 steals + blocks (-160)

Warriors vs. Celtics Celtics -5
Time | TV 8:30 p.m. ET | ABC
Best Book BetMGM

 

It would be a bit of an understatement to say that the Tristan Thompson signing has been a disappointment for the Boston Celtics. Thompson was supposed to lock down the starting role and provide great rebounding and terrific defense, especially with an eye toward the playoffs, but he’s struggled to find consistent playing time and a role in a frustrating campaign.

Thompson missed almost a month of playing time injured before returning on April 7, and his minutes are up a bit since his return. That makes sense since Boston has since traded Daniel Theis, but even without Theis, Thompson is playing just 23.0 minutes per game in these five games since his return. He’s a bit of a role player for Boston.

On the season, Thompsons is averaging 0.4 steals and 0.5 blocks per game. That’s under one stock (steals + blocks) per game and has to make us feel pretty good about this under 1.5. Indeed, Thompson has gone under 1.5 stocks in 30 of 38 games this season, hitting the under 79% of the time.

And even though Thompson’s minutes are up a bit lately, he’s gone under 1.5 stocks in 11 of his last 13 games. That under rate of 85% is even higher than his season-long rate. In fact, Thompson has recorded only 60 stocks in 926 minutes with Boston. That’s one steal or block every 15.4 minutes, which means Thompson would need around 31 minutes on average to get multiple stocks, and he’s never played that many minutes with Boston.

The Warriors are a familiar Thompson foe, and Golden State can certainly be turnover prone, so I think that’s why we’re getting the opportunity to make a play here. But Thompson’s season-long numbers would suggest this line be somewhere in the range of -300 to -400, so -160 isn’t so daunting in that light. I’ll play to -200.

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Khris Middleton, over 4.5 assists (-113)

Grizzlies vs. Bucks Bucks -8
Time | TV 9 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass
Best Book DraftKings

 

Khris Middleton continues to quietly have a huge season for the Milwaukee Bucks. Middleton will always be overshadowed by Giannis Antetokounmpo, and rightfully so, but he’s become a fantastic second option himself.

Middleton is averaging 20.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. The scoring and rebounding are near his career highs, and the passing is a career-best by more than a full assist per game. And don’t forget, Middleton is a hot stretch away from a 50/40/90 shooting season too, at 48/43/89 right now.

We’re focusing on those assists today. Middleton has taken a real step forward as a secondary playmaker this season, and his passing has been better than ever lately. Over the past eight games, Middleton is averaging 6.3 assists per game, his best stretch of the season. He’s gone over 4.5 dimes in all but one of those eight games, hitting this over in 88% of the stretch.

It’s fair to point out that Antetokounmpo was missing for six of those eight games, leaving more playmaking for his teammate to soak up, and the Greek Freak is back now. But he played under 25 minutes in his return on Thursday night and recorded only two assists while Middleton had seven himself. Giannis probably isn’t ready for a full load yet, and Middleton has gone over 4.5 dimes in 32 of 53 games this season anyway.

This line is at 5.5 at some books, and I think that’s where it should be, so I’m grabbing the 4.5 right away, especially at near even odds. We project Middleton at 6.0 assists, so I’ll go over 4.5 dimes as high as -150.

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Jonas Valanciunas, over 1.5 assists (-138)

Grizzlies vs. Bucks Bucks -8
Time | TV 9 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass
Best Book FanDuel

 

Jonas Valanciunas was never much of a passer in Toronto, but his assist numbers have gone way up since coming to Memphis. Valanciunas averaged just 0.7 assists per game with the Raptors, but he’s at 1.9 APG for the Grizzlies, nearly three times higher.

Valanciunas averages one assist every 14.3 minutes with the Grizzlies for his career, and he’s nearly that high this season. He’s also playing his highest MPG total ever this year at over 28, which is almost exactly the number we’d need to get to a pair of assists in a typical game.

That passing has been even better lately. Valanciunas has multiple assists in 12 of his last 17 games, hitting the over 71% of the time over nearly a quarter of the season. He’s also had multiple assists in each of his last six games, averaging 2.8 APG during that stretch and, obviously, hitting the over in six straight.

Milwaukee will be a tough test for Memphis, and the Grizz need every win they can get in a tough playoff race. I expect a heavy dose of the big Lithuanian in the middle, and if he gets enough minutes, Valanciunas should have a good shot at multiple assists again.

We only need two, but we project JV at 2.4 assists. I’ll play to -160.

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