3 NBA Player Prop Bets & Picks For Saturday (May 8)
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Paul Millsap
Not all NBA players are what they seem.
Sometimes we think of a sharpshooter and assume they make more 3s than actuality. For other players, they may not pop and sizzle as much athletically, but they’re still winning players who help their teams. Saturday night’s props will play one of the former and two of the latter.
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
Bradley Beal Over 1.5 3s (-130)
|Wizards at Pacers||Wizards -3.5|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
This line just feels weird, right?
We do this thing with shooting guards where we pigeonhole them as elite shooters and assume these days that that can only mean 3-pointers. We’ve done it with Bradley Beal and we did it with Devin Booker. We think of them as elite snipers, but the truth is that neither of them are truly great 3-point shooters, not by percentage nor by volume.
Oh, they’re certainly not bad, but the elite shooting comes up pull up 2s inside the arc, 90s style much more often than behind the arc. Still, it’s not like Beal and Booker can’t hit from back there.
Still, Beal has made only 10 combined 3s over his last seven games. That’s fewer than 1.5 per game, and he’s gone under 1.5 made 3s in five of those seven.
That’s not good news for us, but it also looks fluky. Beal is not a huge volume shooter, but he does take 6.1 attempts per game and averages 2.1 makes, and we need only two to win. Beal has taken at least four 3s in all but five games this season, and he’s such a sharp shooter that even that few attempts gives us a decent shot at hitting the over. He’s taken exactly five or six 3s in almost half his games, and the math from there is pretty simple. Even an average shooter goes over 1.5 made 3s more often than not with that many attempts.
Sure enough, Beal has gone over 1.5 made 3s in 34-of-58 games, hitting this over 59% of the time. His makes and attempts are down slightly lately, but this should be an extremely fast and high-scoring game against the Pacers. It’s hard to imagine him not making at least a couple 3.
We project Beal at 2.4 makes, and I’ll play to -155.
Kyle Anderson Over 5.5 Rebounds (-104)
|Grizzlies at Raptors||Grizzlies -5.5|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
Kyle Anderson has to be one of the more overlooked and underrated players in the NBA.
Slo Mo is a stout defender and a very intelligent player. He’s a good passer with a confident handle and efficient scoring plus solid all-around numbers. Some advanced metrics would rate Anderson as the best player on the Grizzlies this season. He leads them in Basketball Reference’s Box Plus-Minus and Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) and ranks second on the team in Win Shares and first in many defensive metrics.
Anderson also ranks near the top of the team in minutes played. He’s started every appearance for Memphis this season and typically plays at least 25 minutes. And though he’s not flashy, if he gets that many minutes, he typically compiles his usual steady yet unspectacular numbers.
We’re looking for rebounds, and rebounds require minutes and opportunity. So far this season, Anderson has gone over 5.5 rebounds almost exactly half of the time, hitting the over 31 times in 64 games. But the odds shift significantly when Anderson plays his more typical minutes load. In 45 games with at least 25 minutes, he’s gone over 5.5 boards 27 times, increasing that hit rate to an impressive 60%. He averages 6.4 rebounds per game in those outings.
This looks like a nice spot for Anderson to log his minutes against a Raptors team missing most of its usual stars, and Toronto is a poor rebounding team so that helps our cause, too. We project Slo Mo at 6.7 rebounds, and I’ll play the over to -125.
Paul Millsap Under 19.5 Points + Rebounds + Assists (-110)
|Nets at Nuggets||Nets -3.5|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
The ageless Paul Millsap is finally showing his age this season. His 9.0 points per game are his lowest since 2008, way back when he was still playing for the Utah Jazz — remember that? — and his 4.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game are near career lows too.
It’s not that Millsap isn’t good anymore, he’s just not playing that much these days. He’s also lost whatever athletic pop he had left, so he’s stuck relying on all that veteran wile and savvy now. His minutes are down to 21.0 per game –his lowest since 2008 — and it’s just hard to do much damage in that few minutes. Perhaps Denver is saving his legs for a playoff run.
That production has dipped even lower in recent days. Over the past 15 games, Millsap is down to 7.7 points per game, and his minutes have fallen to 15.7 per game. He’s gone under 19.5 points + rebounds + assists (PRA) in all but two of those games, hitting the under 87% of the time during this stretch.
It’s not a freebie, though. Millsap has started the past two games and seen his minutes tick back up to 24.3 and 26.5, and one of those two overs came his last time out. He scored 19 points in that one, but that was his second-highest scoring game of the season. This feels like a great spot to fade the minutes and production.
We project Millsap at 10.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists, right around his typical production on the season and already factoring in the recent minutes increase. That’s just 16.9 PRA, so it gives us some margin for error here. Unless he has another outlier scoring night, we should be safe.
I’ll play the under to -135.