Friday NBA Player Prop Bets, Picks: LaMelo Ball’s Huge Effort Was No Fluke (Jan. 1)
Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: LaMelo Ball
- LaMelo Ball's had monster performance in the Charlotte Hornets' game against the Dallas Mavericks.
- Was the NBA rookie's big-time showing nothing but a fluke?
- Our models say it wasn't and project 25 minutes for Ball tonight, with a usage rate high enough to top all three of his props
Happy New Year, everyone!
Props can be a fickle game. Brandon Ingram cost us our parlay last night when he got himself ejected, but later on Buddy Hield exploded early but then stalled in the second half to eke out a points under for us. Throw in a Deni Avdija push and it was a bit of a weird 2-2-1 day — or a winning day if you followed on the app and added Norm Powell late once Pascal Siakam was announced out.
It’s a good reminder that things are always changing in the NBA, especially in this weird pandemic season. Lines are constantly moving and adapting, and you’ve got to grab value while it’s there. It’s also a good reminder to sign up for the full Props tool so you can react in real time to things like the Siakam news.
Our tool showed Powell’s points over as a 10 rating even with Siakam projected to play, so it was a no brainer over with Siakam out and Toronto needing points. He hit that over by a full 5.5 points.
Tonight, we are playing a couple PGs — one traditional point guard, and one less traditional Paul George. We’re playing some longer odds tonight too, a reminder that won-loss record is not as important as profitability on these.
For those who are new to this article, we’ll be using the ActionLabs 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
Paul George over 3.5 assists (+130)
|Clippers at Jazz||-3.5|
|Time||9 p.m. ET|
The Clippers look really good again, as long as they’re not losing to the Mavericks by 7,000 points, and Paul George is a big part of the reason why.
PG finally looks healthy and whole again. George is averaging 22.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 5.6 assists on a scorching 70% True Shooting thus far. Tonight, it’s that third number that interests us.
The one thing critics continue to fear most about the Clippers is their lack of a true point guard. Patrick Beverley is one of a kind, but a true point guard he is not. Beverley is consistently playing around 22 minutes a game this year and has recorded exactly one total assist over the last four games combined, despite being the team’s nominal starting “point guard.”
That’s because the Clippers have turned the offense fully over to Paul George and Kawhi Leonard now, relying on these two to create in addition to scoring. And George has stepped up. After recording three assists on opening night, George has gone over this line in four straight games with nine, four, five, and seven dimes. He’s averaging 5.6 APG right now, a career high by a whopping 1.5 assists, making it clear that his role has grown.
Tonight, we need PG to mean more than just Paul George. Let’s get more Point Guard play from PG too and hope he goes over 3.5 dimes a fifth straight game. We’re projecting him at 4.6 assists, and his growing role suggests that may be conservative. And we’re getting plus money? Yes, please.
PG may cede some handling to Kawhi, but he’s racking up assists with or without his co-star.
I’ll play to -110 but am all over this one at +EV.
LaMelo Ball over 3.5 assists (-110), over 4.5 rebounds (+120)
|Grizzlies at Hornet||-4|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
LaMelo Ball dazzled in preseason action but hadn’t found his footing in a real live NBA game until his last game out against Luka Doncic and the Mavericks. Ball set career highs across the board with 22 points, eight rebounds, and five assists in 29 minutes, looking like the star the Hornets were expecting when they drafted him with the third pick a couple months ago.
So was that a one-time fluke or a sign of things to come?
Our models expect an uptick in playing time for Ball after his breakout game, and Charlotte is in a good spot tonight against Memphis, who is now missing its best two players with Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson sidelined. We project Ball at 25 minutes tonight, and our Props tool actually loves all three Ball overs — points, rebounds, and assists.
I don’t totally trust Ball as a scorer yet. That shooting form is a bit wonky, and he’s not a pure scorer at heart. But Ball has always been a really good rebounder for his size, and he is a savant passer.
LaMelo has been over this rebounding total in three of his four games and is averaging five boards a game and 6.3 RPG after his dud of a debut. He’s also had five assists in each of the past two games and is always going to be a threat to put up dimes in a hurry with his elite passing ability.
It’s always a bit dangerous playing the same player on two props. If Ball ends up losing playing time or getting injured, we probably lose both. I like the rebounding prop the most at plus odds, but I’m happy to play both together here since our model likes Ball so much. You might also find combo props at some books, so that’s always something to watch for. When our Props tool rates all three Ball props as a 10 and you can play his points + rebounds + assists, you remove some of the variance of one low stat killing things since he can make it up elsewhere.
However you play it, it looks like LaMelo Ball is worth our attention going forward.
Brook Lopez under 4.5 rebounds (+120)
|Bulls at Bucks||-14.5|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
Remember when Brook Lopez was considered a Defensive Player of the Year candidate and one of the core Bucks players? In the 2018-19 season, Lopez was something of a breakout star for the Bucks as a brilliant drop defender and long shot ace, hitting 2.3 3’s per game.
Then last year, the bottom fell out on BroLo’s 3-point shot as he made only 31.4% of his treys, and now Lopez looks like he’s being marginalized early in the season as the Bucks move toward alternate playing styles.
Lopez is playing only 22.8 minutes per game, fewest of his career. He’s also hitting career lows across the board at 8.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 0.0 assists per game. Yes, that’s right — he hasn’t even had an assist yet this season.
Lopez has averaged under five rebounds in both Milwaukee years past, has never really been a great rebounder and is playing too far from the rim much of the time to get big rebounding numbers. Lopez did have eight boards his last time out but went under this line in his four previous games at two, two, four, and three rebounds.
The Bucks are massive favorites in this one too, which could end up cutting Lopez’s minutes if Milwaukee rolls and puts the backups in early. We’re projecting Lopez at 21.3 minutes and 3.0 rebounds, which feels cruel but is basically in line with his season thus far, for the most part.
I’m fading Lopez and wondering what exactly the Bucks are going to do if they’re back down to three reliable starters again already. Play Lopez to -120 but grab those plus odds while you can get them.