Friday’s NBA Player Prop Bets, Picks: Buy Ja Morant Against Struggling Bulls & More (Apr 16)
Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Ja Morant.
- Kevin Durant is back, but the Nets have not unleashed him quite yet.
- Ja Morant has an excellent matchup against the Bulls, who have struggled since acquiring Nikola Vucevic.
- Brandon Anderson breaks down his and Action Labs' three favorite player props for Friday night.
The Brooklyn Nets have been confounding at times this season. It’s hard to know which Nets superstars will actually take the court and who will put up a big line, and that can make their props tough to figure out. But today we’re playing two Nets anyway — and we’re fading both.
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
Kevin Durant, under 38.5 points + rebounds + assists (-113)
|Hornets vs. Nets||Nets -12|
|Time | TV||7:30 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
Kevin Durant is averaging 28.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game. Durant is a surefire first ballot Hall of Famer, an MVP and Finals MVP, and one of the all-time great scorers. This is not a bet against Kevin Durant.
But it is a bet against the extremely careful version of Durant that is getting cautiously rolled out right now.
Durant has played 19, 24 and 27 minutes in three games since his return, and he then sat the most recent Brooklyn game. He’s been really good in those limited minutes, averaging 23.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists in those games. Imagine coming off an Achilles injury, then missing two more months, rolling out of bed and dropping 23/6/5 in limited rehab minutes when it would be a career game for about 90% of the league.
Still, add those points, rebounds, and assists up, and you get an average of 34.0. He’s gone under 38.5 in two of the games, and the only over was by 0.5. That also includes some outlier shooting nights, even for Durant. Look back over his limited-minutes games his last five times on the court and he’s averaging 30.4 PRA and under 38.5 in four of the five.
Besides, even if Durant is great and the Nets are really good, there’s another obvious way to go under here. Brooklyn is a 12.5-point favorite against the Hornets, so maybe the Nets just cruise to victory, another way of limiting KD’s minutes.
Durant will produce when he’s out there. There’s little doubt about that. This is just a bet against him getting enough minutes to do so in a game that barely matters. We project him at 27.4 minutes, 21.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 5.6 assists. Ho hum, just another great game for a future Hall of Famer. But at 33.1 PRA projected, we have to play the under. I’ll play to -135.
Joe Harris, under 2.5 threes (+130)
|Hornets vs. Nets||Nets -12.5|
|Time | TV||7:30 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
Joe Harris is an elite shooter of basketballs. He is shooting 47.9% on 3-pointers on the season, which would be a career high, even for him. He’s shooting an absurd 43.7% lifetime from behind the arc.
Translation: Joe Harris is one of the most knockdown shooters in NBA history.
Harris is averaging 3.1 3-point makes per game this season on 6.5 attempts per game. Harris ranks seventh in the NBA in made 3-point shots but only 16th in attempts. That’s just not a very high number of attempts for a sharpshooter like Harris, and his attempts have gone down drastically lately.
Over the last 11 games, Harris’s numbers have fallen off dramatically. He’s averaging just 28 minutes a game, and he’s dropped to 2.1 made 3-pointers per game on 4.8 attempts beyond the arc. During that stretch, Harris has gone under 2.5 made 3s in eight of the 11 games, hitting this under 73% of the time. And perhaps just as importantly, he’s had four or fewer 3-point attempts in all eight of those unders.
The minutes are down, and the shots just aren’t coming. Maybe it’s Brooklyn turning the intensity down for Harris with the playoffs coming. Maybe he’s not getting as many good looks without James Harden, or maybe it’s just Durant and Kyrie Irving taking more shots. It’s probably a little of each, but either way, it’s really hard to make three 3s if you only get three or four attempts, even if you’re Harris.
Before this 11-game stretch, Harris had been making 3.4 3s per game on 6.9 attempts, so that shows how dramatically his numbers have fallen off. He had only seven games all season with four or fewer 3-point attempts all year before doing that in eight of the last 11.
It feels crazy, but we’re getting +130 juice here because the attempts just haven’t been there for Harris. I’ll take the under down to +110.
Ja Morant, over 7.5 assists (+118)
|Grizzlies vs. Bulls||Grizzlies -3.5|
|Time | TV||8 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
Ja Morant is awesome and the face of the Grizzlies’ future, but he’s had a difficult sophomore season. Morant started the season on fire with 72 points and 16 assists over his first two games but got injured in the third. He rushed back three weeks later and hasn’t been the same since. Morant’s shooting in particular has betrayed him and with all the explosive scoring around the league, he’s under 20 points per game himself.
Morant’s passing has been steady and solid, though. He’s averaging 7.4 assists per game on the season, right at this number. Over the last 15 games, Morant has at least seven dimes in 10 games. The problem is that he’s only gone over 7.5 in six of them, and we need eight, not seven.
This is as much a bet against the Bulls as it is one on Morant, though. Chicago’s defense has not figured things out since adding Nikola Vucevic at the trade deadline. The Bulls are allowing 1.4 more assists per game per Killer Sports, and it’s really telling when you look at the leading opponent assist man in Chicago’s 11 games with Vooch. Let’s spell them out:
- Dejounte Murray: 8
- Draymond Green: 9
- Chris Paul: 14
- Donovan Mitchell: 6
- Kyrie Irving: 15
- Goga Bitadze (?!): 6
- Malachi Flynn: 8
- Trae Young: 9
- Ricky Rubio: 9
- Ja Morant: 10
- Gary Harris: 6
That’s 9.1 APG for the leading assist man against the Bulls since acquiring Vucevic. Not great. Eight of 11 Bulls opponents have had an assist man over 7.5 assists, and that includes Morant himself just earlier this week. That Bulls defense just isn’t holding up right now, and you can pretty much lock in Morant as the Grizzlies’ assist leader so he should have a good shot going over 7.5 dimes.
We project Morant at 8.4 assists, and that makes this a must play at any plus juice number.