NBA Player Props Betting Forecast: Harden’s New Chapter, Barnes Surging

NBA Player Props Betting Forecast: Harden’s New Chapter, Barnes Surging article feature image

Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors shoots the ball during the game against the Philadelphia 76ers. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Week 3 of the NBA season is here and we've already covered a lot of ground with what has transpired from James Harden making his way back to the Western Conference to Scottie Barnes putting the Raptors on the map. And to think, we're not even a full month into this.

Let's get your week started off right with NBA player props for the matchups ahead.

NBA Player Props Betting Forecast

James Harden's Newest Team: The Los Angeles Clippers

Schedule: Nov. 6 at Knicks | Nov. 8 at Nets | Nov. 10 at Mavericks

James Harden forced his way out of Philadelphia after a series of questionable contractual decisions and now has joined forces with Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Russell Westbrook in LA. Many of the conversations around Harden that have centered on whether or not he was worth a max contract or if a team could contend around him have severely underrated his on-court impact. Brandon Anderson wrote a great piece about the team in general, and I agree they are going to be excellent when they all play.

How do we bet it on a night-to-night basis though? And how do we bet this on Monday against the Knicks?

Harden has commanded an elite Usage Rate throughout his career but it has settled at around 31% with Brooklyn and with Philadelphia. That would immediately slot in as the highest Usage Rate on the Clippers, per Cleaning the Glass. While that may seem unlikely to continue, considering the Clippers' relative lack of a point guard besides Westbrook, it's entirely possible that Harden will continue to command a significant role in the offense as a facilitator.

Over the last few seasons, Harden has averaged 10.7, 10.3, and 10.8 assists per game. This level of offensive creativity is something the Clippers desperately have needed to help their offense jell. Westbrook averages 7.0 apg this season, but he's been a much less efficient player than Harden at this stage of his career. After Westbrook, the only other players to average 4 or more assists have been Kawhi and Paul George.

Harden is expected to be on a minutes restriction for this game; however, he can still be extremely productive. Last season, Harden played fewer than 30 minutes in only four games and averaged 16.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 9.5 assists. The year prior it was just three games, and he averaged 15.3 ppg, 9.0 rpg, and 9,3 apg. While his scoring dips, his rebounds and assists have remained high. Considering the surrounding scoring talent, I'd look to bet on the over on his assists in the opener if we get a line around 7.5.

As for Kawhi and Paul George, their roles should remain relatively static; however, I expect their efficiency to improve simply due to Harden's elite playmaking. Kawhi's and George's points lines are both set at 22.5 on Monday, numbers they have exceeded in 63% and 57% of games over the last two seasons. I think both of those are playable, especially with the team coming off four days of rest having last played on Wednesday. James Harden's introduction into the lineup should only help both Kawhi and George find open looks. I do think that both may find better looks, particularly from 3.

The one player who will be impacted the most is Russell Westbrook. It seems likely that Westbrook would become a super sixth man again. What is even more interesting is that last season, he was more productive off the bench than he was as a starter. He averaged more points, more rebounds, and more assists for splits of 16.2/6.1/7.7. I'm more bullish on Westbrook in a bench role, considering the competition he'd generally play against should be weaker. His PRA line of 25.5 is likely too low considering his ability to contribute across the board.

The Cavaliers are Whole Again: The Return of Garland and Allen

Schedule: Nov. 8 at Thunder | Nov. 11 at Warriors | Nov. 13 at Kings

The Cavaliers finally have their whole team intact for the most part with the return of Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen. They have desperately needed both of them to find some success this season.

Darius Garland provides the team with much needed offense outside of Donovan Mitchell. Caris LeVert sees a hit in his Usage, but he is a better bench scorer due to his propensity to simply try and get his own buckets. Donovan Mitchell sees a downturn in his stats across the board but still scores 27.5 ppg, while recording 4.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists alongside Garland. However, the offense opens up significantly, so it's a meaningful sacrifice. With Garland on the floor the offense was 4.4 points better last season, per Cleaning the Glass.

Pivoting to Jarrett Allen, he is the anchor to the defense. As good as Mobley has been, Mobley still struggles to man the center position night in and night out. At this stage in his career, it is Allen that unlocks the Cavaliers' defense, not Mobley. This shows in the Cavaliers' record. Over the last two seasons, the Cavs are 45-25 with Allen but just 9-10 without him. He's posted positive defensive numbers in each of the last three seasons, and his role has even been important for the offensive side of the ball. Allen has averaged 14.2 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 1.7 assists over the last two seasons, and Mobley sees a slight downturn in his rebounds per game but still averages 16 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game playing with Allen.

Allen could be in line for a monster game Wednesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder , who have struggled against traditional centers. I'd specifically look for Allen's rebound props.

Scottie Barnes Surge in Toronto

Schedule: Nov. 8 at Mavericks | Nov. 11 at Celtics | Nov. 13 vs. Wizards

Scottie Barnes has taken the leap. This season he is averaging 22.6 points, 9.9 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.1 steals, 2.1 blocks, and 3.3 turnovers in 36.4 minutes per game with 26.6% Usage. Those are a significant jump from the 15.3, 6.6, and 4.8 he averaged last season. It's safe to say someone is enjoying the new system under Coach Darko Rajaković.

One of my favorite ways to target players with an uptick in Usage is betting on their turnovers. I think it's a relatively soft market and does not require players to excel; rather, with greater responsibility and likely more defensive focus on them, it is natural that the player would make more mistakes even if the overall contributions are greater. Barnes has had his Turnover prop set at 2.5 nearly every game this season, and he's exceeded that line in 6/8 games. This should continue to be a bet moving forward, specifically against the Celtics on Saturday. I also like Barnes' matchup against Dallas on Wednesday. His unique combination of size and skill should prove successful in a matchup against a relatively undersized Mavericks team.

Of course, with the rise of Barnes, we have seen a decline in usage from Pascal Siakam. Siakam's usage is the lowest it has been since the 2018/2019 season at just 21.8%, per Cleaning the Glass. He is logging just 15.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 4.7 assists compared to 24.2, 7.8, and 5.8 last season. I do expect the scoring to regulate at some point though. Siakam's eFG% is just 47.4% compared to a career mark of 52.5%. Regardless, betting on regression on a game-to-game basis is a fool's errand — so while he should rebound over the long term, there's noting specific to indicate he would improve immediately. He has scored 20+ points just twice this season and has turned the ball over at least two times in 7/8 games. This is Scottie Barnes' team until further notice.

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Nick Sterling
Jun 22, 2024 UTC