Friday’s NBA Player Prop Bets & Picks: Big Favorite Means Fading Rudy Gobert’s Rebounding (March 12)
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Rudy Gobert
- The Utah Jazz are heavy favorites on Friday night against the Rockets.
- Because of the blowout potential, Brandon Anderson suggests betting against Rudy Gobert's rebounding total.
- Continue reading for Anderson's full slate of NBA prop bets for Friday.
A year ago Thursday, the NBA was shocked when Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 and the league was suspended later that night. Now one year later, Gobert is in the news again but for all the right reasons. Gobert and two of his Utah Jazz teammates played in the All-Star Game together, and he’s the leading Defensive Player of the Year candidate as the Jazz roll into the second half with the best record in the NBA.
On Friday night the Jazz play the ice-cold Rockets, and we’re playing a Gobert prop. The big man is having his best season yet, but the Jazz might be too good now for him to play enough minutes to have another big game.
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
Kendrick Nunn Under 3.5 Assists (-152)
|Heat at Bulls||Heat -2.5|
|Time||9 p.m. ET|
This is my favorite prop on the board Friday night.
One year ago right now, Kendrick Nunn was having a wonderful season and looked like a sleeper Rookie of the Year candidate. But Nunn faded in the Orlando bubble and didn’t get to do much during Miami’s playoff run. He started this year on the bench but moved into the starting lineup in late January and seems to have settled in, returning to 15.6 points per game as a scoring guard.
What Nunn is not doing, though, is running point. Jimmy Butler is the de facto point guard of this offense now. Butler is putting up triple-doubles on the regular, and Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic, and Tyler Herro run a lot of this offense too. Adebayo is still out tonight, but with Nunn starting next to Butler, the numbers tell us to fade his assist totals.
Nunn is averaging 2.8 APG since moving back into the starting lineup. He’s at 2.7 APG for the season, so that number hasn’t budged really. Nunn has gone under 3.5 assists in 23 of his 29 games this season, which means he’s hit this under a whopping 79% of the time.
But wait, it gets even better. Take a closer look at those six games when Nunn did go over 3.5 dimes. In four of the six over games, the Heat were missing Jimmy Butler. Nunn averages 3.2 APG in games without Butler this season but just 2.4 with him. In games with Jimmy Butler, Kendrick Nunn has gone under 3.5 dimes 88% of the time.
This line is an assist too high. We project Nunn at 2.6 dimes, and I think he goes under that too. I’m smashing this one at 3.5. I’d play with confidence all the way to -200.
Rudy Gobert Under 14.5 Rebounds (-115)
|Rockets at Jazz||Jazz -17|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
Folks, the Jazz are playing the Rockets on Friday night, and it could get ugly.
Houston has lost 14 straight games, with half of those losses by 20 or more points, while Utah was the only team with three All Stars after shredding a hole through the rest of the NBA for the last two months heading into the break. Now P.J. Tucker appears to be done in Houston amidst the latest drama, plus Eric Gordon and Christian Wood are out while Victor Oladipo and John Wall are questionable and may miss too.
Did somebody say blowout city?
That’s the play here, looking for a big Utah win that means a nice easy second half and no fourth quarter minutes for all of their tired out All Stars. The Jazz have been so good that Rudy Gobert is actually playing his lowest minutes total in years at 30.7 MPG. Despite that, he’s averaging 13.1 rebounds per game. Pretty good!
In 17 games this season, Gobert has played fewer than 30 minutes. That’s almost exactly half of Utah’s games. And in those 17 games with more limited minutes — usually because of a big Jazz win — Gobert is under 14.5 rebounds in 12 of the 17 games, hitting this under 71% of the time. For the entire season, he’s under 14.5 rebounds in two-thirds of his games.
The Rockets are small and bad at rebounding, so don’t be surprised to see Gobert gobble up three or four rebounds in the opening minutes, but don’t panic either. This is a monster line at 14.5 rebounds, and we’re hoping Gobert’s minutes are limited, perhaps along with his energy levels after the All-Star Weekend.
We’re projecting Gobert at 29.7 minutes and 13.1 rebounds. Notice those minutes: Right where we want them. Let’s bet on the Jazz to win big and look for softer minutes for their stars, fading Rudy’s rebounding up to -135.
Jonas Valanciunas Under 18.5 Points + Assists (-115)
|Nuggets at Grizzlies||Nuggets -3|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
Our Props Tool is not loving Jonas Valanciunas today. As of noon today, JV’s assists under is the only rated-10 prop on the board, and the tool likes him to go under on both points and rebounds too.
Turns out it’s not a lot of fun matching up against Nikola Jokic, who was arguably the best player in the NBA over the first half of the season. Valanciunas is the sort of guy whose minutes can vary wildly from one matchup to the next. He can really bully the opponent in the right matchup, but he can be minimized quickly in the next, especially if he gets into foul trouble. Valanciunas has at least five fouls in nine of his 28 games.
Tonight, we’re betting on a smaller outing from Valanciunas. We project him at 28 minutes with 14.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 1.3 assists on the night, and those numbers are all below the books’ lines tonight. That gives us a few options. We could pick our favorite of the three, or we can go for the right combo prop.
If there’s one area Valanciunas is consistently great at, it’s rebounding. He’s recorded double digit rebounds in 21 of his 28 games and has 15+ boards eight times already. I’m staying away from the rebounding under, and I’m keeping those boards out of our combo props too. He is capable of putting up a huge number there and obliterating a line on rebounding alone.
Instead, we’ll fade his points and assists tonight with that combo prop at 18.5. He’s gone under his points line (16.5) in 17 of 28 games, and since the assists move the line by two and we project him at only 1.3 dimes, that’s just an extra margin of error in our favor.
Let’s hope we did the math right and go under on JV points and assists, and we’ll play up to -135.