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NBA Player Prop Bets, Picks: 3 Best Plays for Monday, Including Ben Simmons & Jakob Poeltl (May 3)

NBA Player Prop Bets, Picks: 3 Best Plays for Monday, Including Ben Simmons & Jakob Poeltl (May 3) article feature image

Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Jakob Poeltl.

  • Two big men and a point forward highlight Brandon Anderson's NBA player props on Monday night.
  • He breaks down the players he's backing and whether to fade or buy their totals.

It’s Centers Day again at Action Network! Well, it’s kind of Centers Day, depending on if you still want to pretend Ben Simmons is a point guard even though he’s made five career 3s in five NBA seasons. Today’s three big men don’t get as many touches, so we’ll be sweating these bets out, but a win is a win.

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

Isaiah Stewart, under 3.5 steals + blocks (-165)

Magic vs. Pistons Pistons -1.5
Time | TV 7 p.m. ET  | League Pass
Best Book BetMGM

Folks, we’ve got ourselves a real tank-off tonight when the Detroit Pistons and the Orlando Magic take the court. The Pistons are one game “up” on the Magic for the worst record in the entire East, and both teams are resting veterans and turning to their young players.

For Detroit, that means lots more playing time for rookies Killian Hayes, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart. Stewart has been the best of the three so far this season. Beef Stew has quickly become a fan favorite in Detroit with his blue collar workhorse style of play. He has a mean streak on defense and attacks the glass with aplomb.

Stewart has 10 blocks over the last three games along with a steal in each one. He’s always been a good defender, but that was obscured a bit in college when he was protected by Washington’s 2-3 zone. Even still, these stock (steals + blocks) numbers are new and likely unsustainable.

That’s 13 stocks in the last three games and over 3.5 in each of them. But Stewart had more than 3.5 stocks only once in his first 49 games as a pro. He has recorded a steal in fewer than half his games and has multiple steals only four times, so he’s likely relying heavily on blocks here to hit an over. But he has multiple blocks in only 22 of 52 games, just 42% of them. He has three blocks eight times, and he’s cleared this stocks line on blocks alone twice, with four.

The truth is that stocks are just really hard to come by. Stewart has gone over 3.5 stocks only four times: twice in his four-block games and twice when he had three blocks and multiple steals. And two of those games weren’t even in Stewart starts, which means he’s gone under 3.5 stocks in seven of nine starts, or 78% of them.

It’s a whole lot of numbers that tell the same story: It’s tough for any player to get to four stocks in a game, so an under bet for anyone other than Hakeem Olajuwon here is usually a good bet. That’s why we’re drinking the -165 juice, and the truth is that this is a good play up to -200.

Ben Simmons, over 11.5 points (-110)

76ers vs. Bulls 76ers -6
Time | TV 9 p.m. ET | League Pass
Best Book FanDuel

Ready to be frustrated?

Remember the old Ronco Showtime Rotisserie? Ron Popeil ended every infomercial with the same instructions: “Set it and forget it.”

That’s how you’ll want to play this one, because Simmons is awfully frustrating as a scorer. He just doesn’t like to look for his shot, enough so that opponents are more than willing to sag back and dare him to shoot. That’s how you get a weird game like Sunday against the Spurs, when Simmons played 35 minutes but scored only five points — two of them on the game-winning buzzer beater in overtime after a Joel Embiid miss and an offensive rebound.

Simmons is not a big scorer — but he doesn’t have to be with this line. We only need 12 points from a player who’s good to great at just about everything else in basketball except scoring, which means he’s good enough to play all the minutes even without the scoring.

Simmons averages 14.5 points per game this season. That’s a career-low for him, but it’s also a full three points above this line. And let’s be honest — with Simmons, that’s not one bucket either. Simmons has gone over 11.5 points in 35 of 52 games, hitting this over 67% of the time. Even better, he’s had at least 11 points 42 times, which means he’s been within a free throw of an over in more than 80% of his games this season.

Add in a poor Bulls defense that gives up a ton of 2-pointers and easy looks in the paint, the only real place Simmons can score, and this looks even better. We project Simmons at 13.7 points. I’ll play the over to -130. But that doesn’t mean I’ll watch it play out.

Set it and forget it.

Jakob Poeltl, over 1.5 assists (+130)

Spurs vs. Jazz Jazz -7.5
Time | TV 10 p.m. ET | League Pass
Best Book BetMGM

We’ve played Jakob Poeltl a few times lately as the young Austrian continues his breakout season for the San Antonio Spurs.

Poeltl has been an outstanding defender for the Spurs, and he’s been a big part of the reason for San Antonio’s run at the play-in game and why the team was ready to move on from LaMarcus Aldridge. Poeltl is averaging 10.0 points and 8.7 rebounds per game as a starter, and he’s averaging 1.9 assists per game on the season. Like many European big men, he is comfortable handling the ball and has a soft touch as a passer.

Poeltl has multiple assists in four of his last games, so this one is trending in our favor. Plus, Dejounte Murray may be out again, which means more touches and passes for others like Poeltl. He’s had multiple assists in 31 of 61 games, just barely over half of them. As a starter, the number ticks up just a little to 23 overs in 43 starts, a hit rate of 53.5%.

It’s not the most consistent winner, but it implies a coin flip that’s weighted slightly in our favor, and we are getting significant plus juice here. It’s also worth remembering Poeltl’s ceiling as a passer. He has three or more assists 17 times this season and even hit five dimes in four games. We only need two to win, but that shows Poeltl’s true passing ability. He’s also had at least one dime in 52 of 61 games (85%), putting us within one of a win.

It won’t be easy tonight against Rudy Gobert and the Jazz, but Utah has been  vulnerable while Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley remain out. We only need two. We project Poeltl at 2.3 dimes, giving this one more than a 23% edge in our favor. I’ll play at +110 or better.

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