NBA Player Prop Bets & Picks: Damian Lillard Undervalued as a Playmaker Thursday (Feb. 11)
Steph Chambers/Getty Images. Pictured: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers.
- Brandon Anderson doesn't usually play superstars in his daily prop suggestions, but is making an exception for Damian Lillard.
- The star guard is carrying the Blazers, much like he's done countless times over the last several years.
- Check out Lillard's assist prop and two others for Thursday's slate below.
We don’t typically play superstars in this space, especially in marquee national TV games, and that makes sense.
Books know bettors want to play the biggest names and make you pay up for them, especially on overs, and they’re also paying much better attention to the lines they set for the players with the biggest names. That often leaves better value there for role players or guys with vacillating minutes, and that’s the sort of name we typically recommend.
But tonight we’ll make an exception for Damian Lillard in Philadelphia. Few players in the NBA are as hot as Lillard, who continues to carry the Blazers without much help, and we expect a big night tonight from Lillard — as a passer.
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
Wayne Ellington, Over 9.5 points (-106)
|Pacers at Pistons||Pacers -3|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
Wayne Ellington has one of the sweetest shots in the NBA, though he doesn’t get to show it off too much because he’s never really had any other steadily reliable NBA skills.
Ellington has played for nine NBA teams in his career, and if reports are true, he might be heading to his 10th soon enough as the Pistons continue to sell off veterans and steer into the rebuild. They already traded Derrick Rose a few days ago, and that should clear extra minutes for Ellington as Detroit showcases him for their next suitor.
When Ellington gets minutes, he scores. Nine times this season, Ellington has played at least 20 minutes and he’s scored double-digit points in all but one of those. In games with at least 27 minutes this season, Ellington is averaging 21.7 points with at least 16 in every game.
We project Ellington at 26.5 minutes tonight, which would be his first time over 20 in a couple weeks, but that makes sense with the Pistons having precious few guards to throw out there.
In a game against the reeling Pacers that should be close most of the way, Detroit should give plenty of minutes and shots to Ellington. We’re projecting Ellington at 11.6 points, but if he gets as many minutes as I expect, I think that could be selling him short.
You never know when a team like Detroit will just go in the tank and put the young guys out there, so that’s the risk here, but Ellington could hit this over even in limited minutes if he just knocks down a few quick 3s. The risk is worth the price here, so I’ll play Ellington as high as -135.
Nikola Vucevic, Over 12.5 rebounds (+100)
|Magic at Warriors||Warriors -7.5|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
It’s another Orlando Magic prop here at The Action Network, and why not? The Magic may be having a nightmarish season, but all those injuries have given us a glut of golden opportunities in the props market.
Orlando continues to be extremely shorthanded, and are missing four presumed starters right now. Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac are out for the season, Aaron Gordon is out a few more weeks, and it looks like Evan Fournier will miss again tonight. That leaves Nikola Vucevic as the only remaining starter, and Vooch has been an absolute star carrying this roster with everyone else missing.
Vucevic is averaging a career-high 23.3 points per game carrying the load for Orlando, and he ranks seventh in the NBA in rebounds per game at 11.5. He’s playing huge minutes for the Magic, and against an undersized Warriors team tonight, he will tower over the opponent with a chance for a big game.
Remember, the Warriors are basically playing a team that’s 6-foot-7 or smaller with James Wiseman and Kevon Looney sidelined. Draymond Green is a stud on defense, but size goes a long way, and Vucevic is going to have, quite literally, a huge advantage on the glass tonight.
The Warriors rank bottom five in the NBA in rebounding, and really, they’ve been quite lucky not to face any other star big men in this recent stretch playing super small. But what happens when Golden State faces a top-10 rebounder this season? Those big men eat.
The most recent example was Deandre Ayton grabbing 13 boards in 23 minutes a couple weeks ago, and Rudy Gobert had 14 in 24 the game prior. The Warriors have allowed 17 rebounds to Julius Randle, 14 to Nikola Jokic, 14 to Domantas Sabonis, and 13 to Giannis Antetokounmpo. That’s six games against a top-10 rebounder, and the Warriors have allowed at least 13 boards to that star rebounder in all of them.
Thirteen is what we need from Vucevic tonight to hit the over, and we project him at 14.7, clearing that with a couple to spare. Vooch is a near lock for double-digit rebounds if he hits 30 minutes, and the Magic will need big minutes to have any hope in this one. I’ll play this Vucevic over to -120.
Damian Lillard, Over 7.5 assists (+105)
|76ers at Trail Blazers||76ers -5.5|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
Damian Lillard is carrying the Blazers all on his own once again. With C.J. McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic both out for the foreseeable future, Lillard is doing everything for Portland and he’s making it work.
Dame is averaging 29.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 7.1 assists on 63.3% True Shooting, putting in an MVP-type effort to carry the Blazers to a 13-10 record they have no business holding.
You probably think of his scoring before his assists, but Lillard has improved a lot as a passer over the past couple seasons. That 7.1 APG is his second highest ever, and last season he was at 8.0 dimes per game.
You also might think Lillard is shooting more with McCollum and Nurkic out, and he is — he’s just passing more too. Over the past eight games, Lillard is averaging 31.6 points and 7.8 assists per game. And until he recorded just two dimes his last game out against the Magic, Lillard had gone over 7.5 assists in six of the previous seven.
Take that one Orlando outlier out and Lillard jumps to 8.5 assists per game, and we project him even higher at 8.9 dimes tonight. That makes sense against a tough Sixers defense that has the length to limit Dame’s scoring and force the other Blazers to beat them.
This one won’t be easy. There’s some blowout potential here if the Sixers show up, and that could mean an off game for Lillard, or even a good one with insufficient minutes to hit the over. That’s why we’re getting plus juice here.
But I think the books have gone too far, and our Props Tool gives this one a 20.0% edge in our favor, making it the best prop on the board today. I have to roll with Dame at plus juice but would play to -115 if needed.