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NBA Player Props: Rookies Franz Wagner & Cade Cunningham Lead Tuesday’s Value Plays (March 15)

NBA Player Props: Rookies Franz Wagner & Cade Cunningham Lead Tuesday’s Value Plays (March 15) article feature image
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Omar Rawlings/Getty Images. Pictured: Cade Cunningham

  • Franz Wagner and Cade Cunningham are two of the hottest rookies in the NBA right now.
  • While a year ago both were playing in March Madness, they're the targets to consider in the NBA tonight.
  • Continue reading for a full breakdown on how to play Wagner's and Cunningham's player props on Tuesday night in the NBA.

March Madness officially tips off tonight with a pair of First Four games in Dayton, so for tonight’s NBA props today, we’re focusing on a pair of guys who played in last year’s NCAA tournament.

A year ago at this time, Cade Cunningham and Franz Wagner were hoping to lead Oklahoma State and Michigan on deep March runs. This year, they’re toiling away on NBA lottery teams with no hopes of postseason play, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate the good things they’re doing this season — and play their props for profit again.

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 five 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

Franz Wagner, over 4.5 rebounds (+105), over 5.5 rebounds (+186)

Nets vs. Magic Nets -10.5
Time | TV 7 p.m. ET | League Pass
Best Book FanDuel

Wagner has quietly been one of the league’s brightest rookies for the Orlando Magic. At Michigan, Wagner took on a smaller role as more of a role player, a connector who profiled as a 3-and-D prospect. He’s showing he can be more than that in the NBA and has already taken on a bigger role.

Helped by a lack of available bodies in Orlando with all the injuries, Wagner has earned major playing time, and he’s started every game this season for the Magic. For the season, he’s playing almost 32 minutes a game and averaging 15.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.0 assists. Wagner’s defense has translated, and he’s already showing surprising playmaking and shot making.

And like any good rookie, Wagner is improving as the season goes along. Over his first 18 games, he was at 2.0 APG. Since then, he’s jumped to 3.3 dimes per night, and he was even higher for a while until the rise of Jalen Suggs and return of Markelle Fultz.

Another area Wagner is booming in lately is his rebounding, and that’s the angle we’re playing today. Wagner was at 3.8 RPG those first 18 games. Over the next 40 games, that improved to 4.9 RPG. And now over Wagner’s 11 most recent games, his rebounding is up to 5.3 RPG.

During those 11 games, Wagner has multiple offensive rebounds six times, and he’s racked up at least six boards in every one of those six. The Nets are a bottom-five defensive rebounding team, so Wagner should be able to hit the glass again tonight. He’s gone over 4.5 rebounds in eight of 11 (73%), and all the better that we can play the alternate line for just one more rebound. He’s had six-plus boards in seven of 11, hitting that over 64% of the time versus an implied 35% at this number.

If you’re only playing one, I might be more aggressive and play the higher line. Otherwise you can split your bet between them and hope Wagner keeps up his recent rebounding surge.

Cade Cunningham, over 26.5 points + rebounds (+106)

Pistons vs. Heat Heat -13
Time | TV 7:30 p.m. ET | League Pass
Best Book FanDuel

Editor’s note: Cade Cunningham has been ruled out against the Heat due to a non-Covid illness.

Don’t look now, but Cade Cunningham is making a serious push for Rookie of the Year. Cunningham is still a bit of a longshot at +550 at DraftKings, and it may be hard for him to make a real impression on a team so far off the radar and out of the playoff race. But the numbers are real, and they are spectacular.

It wasn’t always this way.

Cunningham was buried early in the season. An injury cost him training camp time and the first four games of Detroit’s season, and he struggled to find his bearing in his return from injury. Over his first 14 games as a professional, Cunningham averaged just 12.9 PPG, 6.2 RPG and 5.0 APG. He made fewer than 34% of his shots from the field, including an ugly 24% on 3s on significant volume.

But as the season went along, Cunningham found his footing. He had 26 points in his 16th game and 28 points two games later, hitting 11 treys in the two games as the shot started falling. A few weeks later, a 26/8/6 game against the Nets was a glimpse of what he might one day become. January saw a huge 34/8/8 outing against the Nuggets and a 19-point triple-double against the Cavs.

Then Cunningham got injured and missed another couple weeks just before the All-Star break. But coming out of the break, Cunningham finally looks healthy, confident and fantastic. In 10 games, he’s averaging 22.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists. The 3-point shooting still hasn’t been great, but Cunningham is finding other ways to score more efficiently, and the Pistons are finally running everything through him.

Including the game right before the break, Cunningham has scored at least 20 points in nine of his last 11 games, and he’s also had at least six boards in nine of them. That’s a heck of a floor at 20/6 considering this points + rebounds line is at just 26.5. Sure enough, Cunningham has gone over this line in eight of these last 11 (73%) and finished just a basket away in two others.

The books are slowly bumping Cunningham’s lines as his scoring surge continues, but there’s still value there. I love this at any plus number.

Bonus NBA Prop Bets

  • Bruce Brown, over 5.5 rebounds (-114 FanDuel): Brown is playing heavy minutes lately in a role he might be keeping the seat warm for Ben Simmons, and he is putting up numbers. He’s at 14.0 points and 5.9 rebounds a game in 32 minutes over the past 10 outings and over this rebounding line in seven of 10 (70%).
  • Saddiq Bey, over 2.5 assists (-115 PointsBet): Bey has settled into a very comfortable role over the past 25 games at 17.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. Notice that APG is a full assist higher than this line. Bey has at least two dimes in all but two games during this stretch and has gone over 2.5 in 19 of them, hitting this over 72% of the time.
  • Devin Booker, over 6.5 assists (+150 Caesars): We still don’t have a ton of data for Suns games without Chris Paul, but it sure looks like Booker is getting the job done. He’s averaging 8.3 APG without CP3 this season, going over this line in five of six games (83%), and that’s almost exactly in line with his production without Paul last year. It’s worth a play at a plus number.
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