NBA Player Prop Bets, Picks: Nikola Vucevic, Otto Porter Among Best Plays (Friday, Jan. 8)
Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Otto Porter Jr.
Editors note: Kyle Lowry is out of Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings for personal reasons.
After a couple days of bad beats, we didn’t mess around yesterday. Our props went 3-0 and covered comfortably. Cedi Osman doubled his total 3.5 assists, Jusuf Nurkic was 2.5 rebounds short of his 9.5 total, and Dillon Brooks was barely halfway (11) to his 19.5 points number.
Sometimes we’ll eke out wins and others we may catch a bad beat or two, but it’s nice to see some big wins when the numbers are in our favor — especially when two of those bets were at plus odds. That puts us up 3.13 units yesterday and brings us to 28-19-1 on the season, so let’s keep the good times rolling tonight.
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
Nikola Vucevic, Over 3.5 Assists (-144)
|Magic at Rockets||Rockets -5.5|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
The Magic will undergo a major shakeup with Markelle Fultz now out for the season, so it’s important to grab a stake in Orlando here as the team adjusts.
The obvious benefactor is Cole Anthony, and who is now a serious Rookie of the Year contender. But he is too obvious a play, and his prop lines have ballooned for this game against Houston. He may be a props play later but looks like a name to fade here, especially in a tough matchup against John Wall.
Instead, we’ll go with the other Magic player that can really facilitate offense, and that’s Nikola Vucevic. Fultz led the Magic in assist rate by a wide margin, but Anthony and “Vooch” are basically tied for second. Vucevic had six dimes in the last game, which saw Fultz suffer his injury very early on.
We don’t know what Anthony will look like running an NBA offense quite yet, but we know Vucevic will be asked to do a lot. He averaged 3.6 assists per game over the past three seasons, right at this number. He’s an underrated passer from the pivot and has had multiple assists in every game this season.
We’re projecting Vucevic at 4.7 assists with Fultz out, and he should be even more of a focal point of this offense. I’m playing him in this spot up to -150.
Kyle Lowry, Over 6.5 assists (-120)
|Raptors at Kings||Raptors -5|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
Don’t count out the Raptors just yet. Toronto is struggling in a big way to start the season, and it badly needs a win in Sacramento before the season really gets away from them.
The Raptors may be struggling, but Kyle Lowry is still the same old “KLOE.” He’s right near the top of the NBA leaderboard in minutes played at 37.0 per game, and he’s basically matching last year’s numbers at 19.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game.
This line feels like it’s an assist low to me, and our Props tool agrees. The Kings play at a faster pace, and I expect Lowry to have a big game. He has gone over this assist total in four of seven games this season, though his dimes have fallen off a bit over the past week.
I like Lowry to bounce back here, and we project him at 8.0 dimes tonight. That makes this good value, and I’ll play it to -125.
Otto Porter Jr., Over 4.5 rebounds (-130)
|Bulls at Lakers||Lakers -9.5|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
Otto Porter Jr. is finally back healthy, and he’s playing well for the Bulls as he moves into more of a combo-forward role. Chicago is still missing Lauri Markkanen and Chandler Hutchison, along with a few others, due to COVID-19 protocol, so Porter should see plenty of time.
He’ll also continue to play up a position at times at the four, as he often has this season. That has caused Porter’s rebounding numbers to balloon in a huge way. Porter’s career rebounding percentage coming into this season was 10.3%.
This year, he’s at 14.8% while averaging a career-high 6.9 rebounds per game entering this game against the Lakers. That’s almost a 50% improvement, and the career high is especially impressive when you consider that Porter is still only playing around 25 minutes a game.
That’s closer to 28 minutes over the past six games after the Bulls eased Porter in after a long time away, and more minutes are always good for rebounding opportunities. Porter is up to 7.5 rebounds per game over that stretch, and he’s gone over this number in seven of nine games this season.
Some of this rebounding boost is likely variance and noise, but the role change is real and Porter should keep getting rebounds. I’ll play Porter here to -150.
I still like the total if it jumps up to 5.5, which it has done at some books, and would play it up to -110.