2 NBA Player Prop Bets for Friday: Our Favorite Picks, Headlined by Damian Lillard (Feb. 26)
Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Damien Lillard.
- Damien Lillard and Kevin Huerter present value on Friday nights for different reasons.
- Brandon Anderson breaks down why he's backing a Damien Lillard over and fading Kevin Huerter.
We love to look at averages for statistics, and that makes sense. Averages make the most intuitive sense, and they’re a good way to get a feel for a player, and even better as we have a bigger sample size. But sometimes it’s the median output we ought to care about, and other times it’s a floor or ceiling.
With props, it can be a good idea to keep an eye on a floor. If you know a player almost always hits double-digit rebounds, then that puts an 11.5-rebound line in a different light. If you know he has at least 16 points in 85% of his games, suddenly that 19-point over is only one bucket away. Floors matter because we don’t need players to have huge games to hit an over — we just need to hit the over by one point, one rebound, or one assist.
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
Damian Lillard, Over 8.5 assists (+105)
|Blazers vs. Lakers||Lakers -4.5|
|Time | TV||9 p.m. ET | ESPN|
Don’t look now, but Damian Lillard is looking very point guard-y lately. Lillard is still scoring nearly 30 points a game, but he’s also at 8.0 assists per game. That’s a career high, and his assist rate is a career-high 38.2%.
It’s not a coincidence that this is happening in a season that has seen C.J. McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic sidelined for a large portion of it. Every offseason, Portland tries to get Dame some help and every season it just feels like he’s being asked to do even more. Lately, he’s done an especially great job getting teammates like Gary Trent Jr. and Robert Covington involved.
Over his first 25 games this season, Lillard cracked double-digit assists only twice, but he has double-digit dimes in five of six games. After averaging 7.2 assists per game over the first 25 games, Lillard is all the way up to 11.5 APG since Valentine’s Day.
Lillard is on the ball more than ever and doing more than ever for his team — and it feels like that has been true every season for a while now.
He is over this line in six of the last seven games, and lest you think this is just a random small-sample thing, he’s also over in 10 of 15 games with at least seven assists in all but one of those. That’s quite the floor, and it means we will likely have a great chance to hit the over here, even against a tough Lakers defense.
I’ll relish the opportunity to play Lillard at plus odds, but I would also play him up to -115 here.
Kevin Huerter, Under 19.5 PTS + REB + AST (-110)
|Hawks vs. Thunder||Hawks -5.5|
|Time | TV||8 p.m. ET | League Pass|
With Lillard, we were playing a high floor. With Huerter, we are fading him despite an occasionally high ceiling because his floor is unreliable.
Huerter has had a few surprisingly big games for the Hawks this season. A couple weeks ago, he had 10 points and 10 assists against the Pacers. He had another game with 10 dimes, and a different one with 10 rebounds. He’s scored at least 20 points in four other games.
These games have come sporadically and somewhat randomly. They’re not necessarily when the Hawks are shorthanded, though they’ve certainly been helped by Huerter games with big minutes.
Huerter’s minutes are falling a bit lately, now the Hawks have Danilo Gallinari back in the rotation more regularly again. Gallo exploded with 38 points off the bench in Atlanta’s last game, his best game with the Hawks. With him getting more regular minutes, Huerter is typically playing more like 28 to 30 minutes. That’s not nothing, but he had been averaging over 35 since becoming a starter in mid-January when Atlanta was so shorthanded.
Even with that increased minutes load included, Huerter has only gone over this combo prop line in 12 of 32 games. That means he’s gone under 63% of the time, and a lot of the time, it’s not even close. Huerter is under four assists in over half his games and under four rebounds in more than half too. He’s scored 13 or fewer points in 23 of his 32 games.
Those are low floors, and it means Huerter is not producing reliably. That makes him worth fading in hopes that we avoid one of the rare big nights. And with the combo prop, even if he goes big on one stat, we might still hit the under if he doesn’t do much on the other two.
I think the minutes keep fading a bit, and I’m fading Huerter. I’ll play the under here to -130.