Wednesday’s NBA Player Prop Bets & Picks: In Nuggets’ First Game Without Jamal Murray, Fade Nikola Jokić (April 14)
Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokić.
- The Denver Nuggets begin life without star Jamal Murray in Wednesday's game against the Miami Heat.
- Brandon Anderson has opted to fade teammate Nikola Jokic on his assists line, highlighting his three prop plays on the card.
- Check out his other picks and more insight below.
It’s going to really hurt watching the Denver Nuggets play basketball without Jamal Murray. It sucks. Injuries suck. Ban injuries.
Still, the show must go on and Nikola Jokić has a Most Valuable Player award to win. However, Wednesday might not be a great post-Murray start for him, with a really tough matchup on tap against Miami standout Bam Adebayo.
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
Nikola Jokić, under 10.5 assists (-113)
|Heat vs. Nuggets||Nuggets -5|
|Time | TV||10 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
The natural instinct here is to expect a huge game from Jokić with his teammate out and the Nuggets’ backs suddenly against the wall. However, I think this is a really rough spot for Jokić.
Adebayo is a nasty defender and matches up really well with Jokić. Unlike most other defenders, he can body up the Denver star in the post and stick with him on the perimeter, thus cutting off some of those passing lanes.
Jokić only had three assists in his other game against Miami this season. It was his worst passing performance of the entire season — he only has three games with fewer than five assists all year. And this isn’t new. Jokić had just five and six assists against Miami in games during last year’s campaign.
This is not a good matchup for Jokić — or anyone for that matter — considering Adebayo is the No. 1 rated center in DVP. No one is putting up big lines on him.
We project at only 6.3 assists and, at first glance, that seems like it must be a typo or error. Well, it’s not. This isn’t a good spot for Jokić, so prepare for the hot take cannons that could come out Thursday if he posts a poor line in his first game after the Murray injury.
Even if we’re wrong about 6.3 assists, this line is heavily in our favor. Our Props Tool gives this a rare whopping 40% Edge in our favor. The line actually moved up from 9.5 before I could submit this pick. However, Jokić has gone over 10.5 assists only 16 times in 54 games, so he’s under this line 70% of the time. And he was under it by eight assists against Adebayo last time.
It doesn’t feel good, but we have to fade Jokić with such a high line and acceptable juice. At 10.5, our Props Tool would suggest playing at nearly any juice and this might be a spot to lay a second unit as well.
Julius Randle, Under 2.5 3-Pointers (-113)
|Knicks vs. Pelicans||Pelicans -3|
|Time | TV||8 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
Julius Randle has been awesome this season. As Tom Thibodeau’s new plaything, Randle continues to lead the NBA in minutes played. He just passed 2,000 minutes on the season, and that heavy workload has helped him rack up a huge stat line. Randle is averaging 23.0 points, 10.7 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game as the focal point of the Knicks’ attack.
Randle’s shooting is way up this year as well. After hitting less than 30% of his threes every season before this one, with just 168 makes his entire career, he’s suddenly shooting 40% behind the arc with 107 made 3s this year alone. The volume is not huge compared to his contemporaries, but he’s suddenly making 2.0 per game and attempting about five overall.
Still, this line is too high. We just faded Randle successfully on threes over the weekend, so let’s play the line again before it adjusts. Randle has gone under 2.5 made 3s in five in a row, and he’s shot just 23% on 3s during that stretch. He’s still attempted 5.2 per game, but when the attempts are that low, it’s pretty tough to hit three treys, especially when it comes to a shot that isn’t really his calling card.
Randle has gone under 2.5 made 3s in 39 of 54 games this season, hitting this under 72% of the time. I don’t like this as much as I did against the far better Grizzlies defense since the Pelicans are one of the worst in the league defending 3s, but it still looks like a good play at this number. Our Props Tool agrees as well, giving it nearly a 23% edge in our favor. I’ll play to -140 odds.
Thaddeus Young, Under 18.5 Points + Rebounds (-120)
|Magic vs. Bulls||Bulls -9.5|
|Time | TV||8 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
For at least a little while, the “Thadgic” thing was real. Thaddeus Young became the second-best player on a potential Chicago playoff team for the middle third of the season. From Jan. 18 through the All-Star break, Young was balling, putting up 12.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game.
He never started a game in that stretch, but played more than 26 minutes a game off the bench. That includes games with seven, eight, nine and 11 assists — off the bench as a big man — and very nearly one of those Jason Kidd triple-doubles, but he came up two points short.
And then Chicago traded for Nikola Vučević.
Since Vučević was acquired, Young is actually starting most games now, but his minutes have dropped down to 24.4 per game and even lower lately. And despite the starting role, the numbers are all down, not a ton, but to 12.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists. They’re even lower over the last four games, to 11.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists, and he’s below 22 minutes per game in those outings.
For some time, the bigger Young role made sense, but now that Chicago is running so much more of its offense through Vučević instead, Young is getting far fewer touches which leads to fewer scoring and passing opportunities.
Young is under 22.5 total points+ rebounds+assists in three consecutive games, but I still have visions of him dropping assists on an opponent, so I’ll stay away from the assists just in case and stick to only points and rebounds.
We project Young at 9.6 points and 5.2 rebounds in 20.4 minutes, which is about where he’s been these last few games as his role continues to be muted. I’ll play the combo under to -140 odds.