NBA Player Prop Bets & Picks: Lakers Defense Will Hold Giannis Antetokounmpo in Check (Thursday, Jan. 21)
Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34), Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23).
- The Lakers and Bucks meet in a clash of two titans Thursday night, and Brandon Anderson is fading one of the MVPs in tonight's matchup.
- Check out where he's finding value on that game and two other player props using our Action Labs prop tool.
It was a wild Wednesday night of NBA action, and that’s left us a bit of a quieter Thursday night with just three games on the schedule. But one of those games is a monster, with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers squaring off, and we’re playing the biggest star on the slate 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
Giannis Antetokounmpo under 29.5 points (-116)
|Lakers at Bucks||Bucks -1.5|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
Let’s start our night out with a doozy.
This one leaps off the page when you check our Action Labs prop tool. This is the game of the night (probably the week, and the month too).
Our tool is fading Giannis Antetokounmpo hard, to the tune of just 22.5 projected points, a full 25% lower than what he’d need to hit the over here. I even had a few people write in and ask me if that projection and recommendation were a mistake.
Antetokounmpo’s numbers are down this year. There’s no denying that. Through seven seasons in the NBA, he had seen his scoring and rebounding averages increase every single season, pretty remarkable considering he was MVP in one of those before years. Last season, he averaged 29.5 points and 13.6 rebounds, and he did it in 30.4 minutes per game.
This season, Antetokounmpo is playing more but producing less. He’s up to 31.8 MPG, but his production is lower than each of his past two MVP seasons at 27.2 points and 10.2 rebounds.
Antetokounmpo is shooting more 3s than ever, but barely hitting 30% of them, and his free throw percentage has plummeted to below 60%, the worst mark of his career. Antetokounmpo is taking fewer shots at the rim than any season of his career. In short, he’s no longer getting as many easy points.
The cumulative effect is that he is playing further from the rim and less aggressively overall, and he’s only hit 30 points in five of 13 games this season. The Lakers also pack the paint on defense and won’t make it easy for him to do what he does best.
Still, there’s plenty of reason to be skeptical about this under.
Antetokounmpo’s minutes should be up in a huge TNT game against LeBron James, and Giannis scored 34 and 32 in two games against the Lakers last year. But he made five threes in one of those games and went 11-of-14 from the line in the second. Those are outliers, both higher make totals than anything he’s done this season.
I expect the Lakers to come out locked and loaded after a somewhat embarrassing loss to the Warriors last time out, and James loves a huge MVP statement game. I’ll trust the projections here and fade Giannis. It’s hard to score 30 points.
I’ll play this prop to -135. This is our second highest rated prop of the day, and while you’re here, don’t forget to play old faithful, our top rated prop as usual: Brook Lopez over 0.5 assists at BetMGM.
Reggie Bullock over 2.5 rebounds (-150)
|Knicks at Warriors||Warriors -4.5|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
Reggie Bullock is not a defending two-time MVP of anything, but not every prop can be sexy.
Bullock has become one of Tom Thibodeau’s most reliable players, and you know Thibs loves the guy because he’s playing Bullock 29 minutes a game even with the shooter struggling at below 32% behind the arc.
That’s because Bullock is a veteran presence who fights on defense and plays hard, and that effort has borne out in Bullock’s rebounding totals. He’s averaging a career-high 4.4 rebounds per game, and that’s a career high by almost two boards. Part of that is playing more minutes, and part is just his best rebounding rate in five years in a different role under Thibs.
Bullock has played 13 games this season. He’s had at least three rebounds in 11 of them, an impressive 85% hit rate on this prop. This may not be quite the slam dunk that stat makes it seem, since he’s had exactly three boards five times and been at three or fewer boards in three of his last four games, but we’ll trust the numbers here.
Bullock has played at least 25 minutes in all but one game and should get there again with Austin Rivers and Frank Ntilikina likely out, and a game against the Warriors will quicken the pace.
This won’t be comfortable, but the numbers say Bullock gets to at least three, and that’s all we need. We’re projecting him at 3.9 and I’ll play this one to -170 at FanDuel.
Mike Conley over 3.5 rebounds (+132)
|Pelicans at Jazz||Jazz -7|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
The Jazz have been crushing lately with six wins in a row, and Mike Conley has been at the heart of their success with a renaissance season.
Conley struggled to find his way last season and saw his worst numbers in almost a decade at 14.4 points and 4.4 assists per game. He’s up to 16.1 points and 6.3 dimes this year and he’s also hitting a career-best 41% behind the arc right now, helping the Jazz become one of the league’s hottest shooting teams.
Tonight, we’re hoping Conley does the dirty work and grabs a few rebounds. Conley is averaging 4.0 RPG this season, also a career high. The Jazz are an elite rebounding team, and Conley’s offensive and overall rebounding rates are career bests. He’s had at least three boards in 11-of-14 games.
Of course, three isn’t quite enough, but it puts us in range. We need four, and Conley has hit that number in exactly half of his outings. That’s still a solid play at plus juice here, and it should be helped by an opponent that leaks rebounds to opposing guards because the Pelicans have such poor shooting that defenders can pay a bit less attention on the perimeter and scoop up an extra board or two.
We’re projecting Conley at 4.1 rebounds, just enough to hit this over. This one will likely be a sweat too, but it’s a light slate tonight and we’ll trust the numbers here and play the plus juice down to +110 at FanDuel.