NBA Player Prop Bets: Chris Paul, Keldon Johnson Among Top Picks for Saturday (Jan. 30)
Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Chris Paul.
- Saturday's eight-game NBA slate tips off at 8 p.m. ET and features plenty of matchups offering betting value.
- Brandon Anderson breaks down three prop bets, the case for each bet and the best books to find odds on those player props.
Let’s finish our January strong, shall we?
These are my final January prop picks, and what a month it has been. As we wrap up the month, our props are sitting at 74-38-2. That’s a 66% hit rate, averaging two of every three picks, and we’re up 34.8 units on the month for a sparkling 31% return on investment.
Friday was Plus Juice Day, and we hit +118 and +125 props to go 2-1 and turn a tidy profit. There are no plus juice picks Saturday, but let’s hope for 2-1 again — or better — as we finish the month with a bang.
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
Chris Paul, Under 9.5 Assists (-110, PointsBet)
|Suns at Mavericks||Suns -2|
|Time||9 p.m. ET|
The Phoenix Suns remain very shorthanded. Devin Booker is still out with a hamstring injury, while reserves Cameron Payne, Dario Šarić, and Damian Jones are all out again, too.
The Suns are floundering a bit. Phoenix started the year 5-1 and looked like one of the top teams in the West. They’re 4-7 since, have lost five of their last seven, and now play the first game of a doubleheader against a team that’s struggling even more in the Dallas Mavericks.
It feels like the Suns are still trying to figure out what exactly they are. Chris Paul is a brilliant player, but he has changed the dynamic of the team quite a bit. The Suns rank near the bottom of the league in pace and almost never get to the free-throw line. They’re also passing a bit less than last year, when they led the league in assists per game.
Paul himself has only hit double-digit assists in six of his 17 games with the Suns, and that’s what he’d need to go over here. He’s averaging 8.5 assists per game for the season, and that’s dipped even lower over the last couple weeks. CP3 is at 8.0 APG over his last six, with games of four, four, five, and seven dimes in that stretch. The only reason his number is even 8.0 APG is because of 15- and 13-assist games against a Denver team daring him to beat them with the pass, with both games going to overtime and giving Paul his biggest minutes loads of the season. CP3 is averaging just 7.7 APG on games that did not go to overtime this season.
You may pause here and wonder if all of that is moot with Booker out, leaving more time on the ball for CP3, but Booker has been missing the last three games and Paul has only 22 assists — and that includes that 13-dime double-overtime game a week ago.
Our Props tool actually likes Mikal Bridges to go over 2.5 assists, available at +126 at FanDuel. Bridges has at least two dimes in eight straight games, so if you’re fading CP3 and wonder who else might pick up the slack, Bridges might be your chance to double down.
We’re projecting Paul at 7.4 dimes, so I’ll stick with the safer play here and ride this as high as -155.
Keldon Johnson, Over 6.5 Rebounds (-108, FanDuel)
|Grizzlies at Spurs||Spurs -3.5|
|Time||8:30 p.m. ET|
Sophomore Keldon Johnson has quietly become one of the more exciting young players in the league. Johnson is starting on the wing for the Spurs next to DeMar DeRozan, essentially playing a small-ball four for the team. He plays with great energy and can throw down a monster dunk on occasion, and he’s filling up the box score with 14.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game.
Johnson defends hard and scores within the flow of the game, and his energy has made a big mark on the boards. Despite playing small, and even with LaMarcus Aldridge slowly fading into oblivion, the Spurs rank top-10 in the NBA in defensive rebounding percentage. That’s because the Spurs don’t rebound like a small team. Johnson is a pit bull, and his rebounding rate is up on both offense and defense.
Johnson has had at least seven rebounds in 13 of 19 games this season (68.4%), and two of those unders were his lowest minute totals of the season. His role should continue to grow as Gregg Popovich leans more and more into this younger, faster version of the team.
Honestly, I think this line is a rebound too low. I would have set it at 7.5. That’s right where we project him, so I’ll play the over 6.5 to -130.
Josh Richardson, Under 2.5 Assists (-168, FanDuel)
|Suns at Mavericks||Suns -2|
|Time||9 p.m. ET|
The Mavericks are 8-11 and don’t look like a playoff team at the moment. Luka Doncic is posting huge counting numbers but is still shooting poorly, and he’s just not getting much help from his teammates. That’s not entirely his fault, of course. Dallas has been hit hard by COVID-19 protocols and finally got Josh Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Dwight Powell back this week.
Richardson was the team’s big acquisition last offseason. The team traded sharpshooter Seth Curry for Richardson, hoping to add enough defense to offset the loss of shooting. So far, that hasn’t been the case. Even before missing time, Richardson has struggled to find a role in Dallas.
He’s scoring just 12.2 points per game, his lowest since becoming a starter, and the rest of his numbers are down too at 2.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. It’s been a tough couple years for Richardson. This time two years ago, he looked like a possible surprise All-Star candidate with the Heat. He broke out with 16.6 points and 4.1 dimes per game, looking less like a 3-and-D wing and more like a franchise building block.
In Dallas, Richardson has been reduced back to a 3-and-D player. His shooting has cratered, his touches are way down, and his numbers have dropped out. The playmaking Richardson once flashed in Miami has been MIA in Dallas. Richardson’s assist rate as a starter has been nearly 15% over the past four seasons. In Dallas, he’s down to just 7.2%, less than half that number.
Richardson has gone over 2.5 dimes just once as a Maverick, and that was a measly three dimes. It’s also worth noting that Richardson has averaged only 24 minutes a game this week as he works his way back into shape after a long time away, so that reduced playing time is in our favor too.
We’re projecting Richardson at 1.4 assists, giving us a 20.7% edge in our favor, even with the high juice here. That makes this worth playing as high as -190, but I’ll pass if the line drops from 2.5.