Friday NBA Player Prop Picks, Predictions: Our Three Favorite Best Bets, Including Tristan Thompson & John Wall (April 23)
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: John Wall.
- Most NBA bettors aren't used to buying Tristan Thompson's point total, but here we are.
- Brandon Anderson lays out his three best player props on Friday's card, including a fade on John Wall.
The playoffs are only a month away now as we hit the home stretch of the NBA season. This is the part of the year where young guys take on bigger roles for bad teams, and where role players often play outsize roles for shorthanded teams trying to get healthy for the playoffs.
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
Tristan Thompson, over 10.5 points (+100)
|Celtics vs. Nets||Celtics +5.5|
|Time | TV||7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN|
Tristan Thompson has never been a big scorer.
You know this already. Thompson played plenty of big minutes with LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers teams during all those NBA Finals runs, and he was good! Thompson plays good team defense and hits the boards hard, but no one has ever mistaken him for a scoring threat.
Still, Thompson plays with high energy and tends to score easy buckets here and there as long as he’s on the court. And few teams like giving up easy buckets at the basket like Thompson’s opponent tonight, the Brooklyn Nets.
All the better that Thompson has been seeing pretty big minutes lately with Robert Williams ailing and Daniel Theis long gone after the trade deadline. Thompson has played over 33 minutes in each of his past two games, his highest totals of the season thus far, and the Celtics are so banged up that Thompson should get heavy minutes again against Brooklyn.
And though Thompson isn’t a big scorer, we know that he tends to score now and then if the minutes stack up. He averages one point per 2.9 minutes this season in Boston, which means 30 minutes would put him over this number on a typical night. He should get those minutes tonight, and the points should be easier to come by too against the Nets’ soft interior.
Our Props Tool rates this a 10 out of 10 at even odds, and I’ll play the over to -125. We project Thompson at 12.6 points.
John Wall, under 22.5 points (-115)
|Clippers vs. Rockets||Rockets +10|
|Time | TV||8 p.m. ET | League Pass|
It’s great to see John Wall back on the basketball court this season, although “see” is relative there since the Houston Rockets have become largely unwatchable. Still, Wall is posting numbers again, scoring 20.4 points and dishing out 6.7 assists per game, but his shooting percentages and offensive efficiency have not been great.
It’s clear Wall has lost a step or two, but the numbers have been there anyway because Houston has so few other options.
Wall had his two biggest scoring games of the season at the start of March, recording 32 points against the Cavs and 36 against the Nets. He also played over 81 minutes in those two games — and then missed the next two weeks after them.
It was clear that Wall should not be playing over 40 minutes a night like that and once he returned after two weeks away, his minutes have been cut back to a much more manageable 32.6 per night. He’s also seen his scoring drop to 19.3 points per game, in part because the minutes fell a bit and in part because Christian Wood is back and soaking up plenty of the scoring load now too. It’s no coincidence that Wall’s assists are actually up to 7.9 assists per game during this stretch, now that he has another star to pass to.
Wall has gone under 22.5 points in 11 of the 14 games during this stretch, hitting this under 79% of the time. The only times he’s gone over have seen outlier 3-point or free throw attempts, and those won’t be easy to come by against a Clippers team that is playing about as well as anyone in the NBA right now.
This line feels a touch too high for the new-look Rockets. We project Wall at 18.8 points, around his average over the past month. I’ll grab the under here to -140.
Theo Maledon, under 13.5 points (-110)
|Wizards vs. Thunder||Thunder +10|
|Time | TV||8 p.m. ET | League Pass|
We played Theo Maledon for an under win his last time out on Wednesday night, so let’s go back to the well for another while the books have yet to adjust appropriately.
The logic here is mostly the same. Maledon is quietly having a very nice rookie season for Oklahoma City since moving into the starting lineup in January in place of George Hill. He’s started 37 games and is averaging 11.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 30.8 minutes per game as a starter.
Maledon is solid but unspectacular, and that’s exactly what those numbers show. He’s not a great scorer, not an elite assist man. He’s not flashy or super athletic, and he’s not a great shooter or a lockdown defender. That lack of one elite trait is probably why Maledon fell to the second round in the draft, but his lack of a real hole in his game is why he’s immediately found consistent playing time.
Maledon is not great at any of those things, but he’s not really bad at them either, and that’s helped him slot quickly into real NBA minutes. So too has his background playing professional ball in Europe before coming over to the NBA.
Still, our Props Tool is fading Maledon hard lately, and it’s recommending just about any Maledon under available again tonight against the red-hot Washington Wizards. Maledon will have his hands full against Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal and in the end, he’s just really not a great scorer, no matter how many minutes he plays.
Maledon has scored 14 or fewer points in all but four games this season. He’s a high-floor, low-ceiling guy. Those 14s count against us, and he’s had exactly that number six times. Even including them, Maledon has still gone under 13.5 points in 27 of 37 starts in the NBA. That hits the under on this number 73% of the time.
Our Props Tool likes Maledon to go under his rebounding and assists too, but he’s had a few spikes in those numbers lately, so I’ll stick with just the points. We project the rookie at 10.6 points, safely under and making this playable up to -130.