Monday NBA Player Prop Bets & Picks: Back Ben Simmons’ Rebounding Over (Jan. 4)
Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo's rebounds prop (12.5) is nearly as high as the Bucks' spread on Monday night (-16).
- Can he dominate the boards vs. the Pistons' bigs, and can Ben Simmons do the same against the Heat?
- Brandon Anderson previews the top player props for tonight's games below.
Now that we’ve got two weeks of data, the prop lines are starting to tighten up. The lines are a bit closer today, with less margin in our favor, so it’s a good reminder that you don’t always have to play hard every day.
Saturday was also a good reminder that betting is hard and that sports are fun because they’re unpredictable. We bet big on another Eric Bledsoe clunker after he had been fading all year, only to see Bledsoe turn into Magic Johnson for one night and drop 19 points, grab five boards, and dish 10 dimes, hitting all three of his overs on a night when our Props tool was confident he’d hit all three unders.
On the same night, after a sizzling start to his sophomore season, Darius Garland had by far his worst game of the season, shooting 3-of-14 from the field and falling far short on the point and assist props we played and picking up an injury along the way.
So it goes in the betting world. Things happen, and on Saturday, we went 1-3. But at 21-14-1 on the season, this is clearly working, and our Props tool is right back to fading Bledsoe today, going comfortably under on all his props again. We’ll skip Bledsoe today and look to rebound with three rebounding props instead.
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
Ben Simmons, Over 7.5 Rebounds (-111)
|Hornets at 76ers||Sixers -8.5|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
Ben Simmons appears to be settling into a fairly consistent role with the new look 76ers. Through six games, Simmons is averaging 13.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 7.2 assists. He’s continuing to play a bit closer to the hoop on the whole and isn’t on the ball quite as often as players like Seth Curry see their assists tick up.
Those point and assist averages are career lows for Simmons, but the rebounds are a career best, even with his minutes also at a career low. Simmons’s rebounding rate is up significantly, from 13.0% for his career to 16.1% this year, and that’s an area he should always be able to dominate with his positional size and natural rebounding ability.
Simmons has hit this rebounding over by more than a full rebound in five of six games so far, and he’s had double-digit boards his past three times out. We’re projecting Simmons at 9.2 rebounds, which isn’t even in line with his results so far this season and even still makes this a rated 10 prop.
I look for Simmons to continue his big rebounding streak against an overmatched Hornets team. BetMGM offers the best odds according to our prop tool, but I’ll play up to -135.
Brook Lopez, Under 4.5 Rebounds (-114)
|Pistons at Bucks||Bucks -16|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
We played Lopez’s rebounding under his last time out against Chicago, and you may have been worried when he sat at three boards at halftime as he chased this number. But Lopez didn’t record a single rebound in the second half and barely even played, hitting the under with room to spare.
Those trends continue to look exploitable for many of the same reasons. Just a couple years ago, Lopez looked like a core piece of the Bucks, but right now, he can barely even buy playing time. Lopez is hitting his threes again, at 40%, but isn’t bombing nearly as often. Right now he’s taking about half as many as he did in the 2018-19 season when he was so valuable.
Lopez is sitting on career lows at virtually every stat across the board: points, rebounds, assists, minutes, you name it. After playing 29 minutes in the season opener, he’s only even played 21 full minutes once and hit a season-low 15.9 minutes his last time out.
On top of that, Lopez has never exactly been a rebounding fiend. That’s just not his skill set, and his numbers have never been great, especially as he plays further from the basket late in his career. Lopez averaged 4.8 rebounds per game the last two years with the Bucks but did that in 28 minutes per game. He’s only playing three quarters of those minutes right now, and his defensive rebounding rate is horrendous right now, at 8.3%.
Three, four, two, two, eight, three. That’s Lopez’s rebounding totals so far this season, under this number in five of six games. I’ll play the under 4.5 going forward as long as it’s available until either the books or Bucks adjust, and I’d feel pretty solid playing down half a board too if the line drops. At 4.5, I’ll play to -150 — DraftKings has the best odds for this one.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Under 13.5 Rebounds (-134)
|Pistons at Bucks||Bucks -16|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
There’s more than one way to hit a rebounding under or any under in general. Unlike Brook Lopez, Giannis Antetokounmpo isn’t seeing his numbers fall off, isn’t playing way fewer minutes or falling out of the rotation, and isn’t starting to fall off to the aging curve. No, the two-time defending MVP is doing just fine, thank you very much.
In fact, Giannis and the Bucks are playing quite well, despite their 3-3 record, and they are favored by 15 points against the Pistons tonight, or maybe more by the time you read this, especially if Blake Griffin or Derrick Rose sit out the second night of a Detroit back-to-back.
The Bucks tend to blow out bad teams when they’re firing, with all three wins this season by 30 or more points, and they sit the starters quickly when they do. In those three big Bucks wins, Antetokounmpo has played 27, 24, and 28 minutes, compared to 36, 32, and 38 in the three closer games (all losses).
Rebounding is a volume game. Giannis is an elite rebounder and is averaging 13.6 rebounds per 36 minutes, about as expected so far this season. That happens to be right at this number, so the question then is whether or not you think Giannis will need 36 minutes against these terrible Pistons or if this will be another Bucks blowout.
I expect the latter, and so do our projections, putting Antetokounmpo at 28.2 minutes and 10.2 rebounds. The under is 6-0 at this number already this season, though Giannis has been right on 13 rebounds four times already.
Considering the trends thus far and the likelihood of Giannis and the Bucks coasting to victory, I’ll bet on Milwaukee by playing this prop. It’s just another reminder that even a good game can still hit an under, if it’s too good. That’s a good reason to fade a pair of Bucks tonight.
I’ll fade Giannis up to -150 here. I won’t be surprised to see this line drop to 13.0 either and would still consider playing then, given our expectations.