NBA Player Props Betting Forecast: Russell Westbrook, Scottie Barnes Have Value for the Week
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Welcome back to another week of the Player Prop Forecast! We nailed the caps on Zion and the Pelicans last week but now let’s move on to the ever-moving targets for the week ahead.
We have an exciting setup this week with the entire NBA playing on Monday then taking the day off from games on Tuesday to focus on Election Day (maybe throw a register-to-vote type of thing here).
Let’s dive into my targets for the week ahead.
Players to Watch
Raptors Without Pascal Siakam
The Toronto Raptors revealed today that star forward Pascal Siakam will miss at least the next two weeks with a right adductor strain before being re-evaluated. Fred VanVleet just returned on Sunday but it will be interesting to see how the Raptors manage his games/minutes moving forward, especially on back-to-backs because backs often have lingering injuries.
What we do know is that Nick Nurse loves to play his starters big minutes. On Sunday, Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby, and Fred VanVleet all played in excess of 38 minutes while Christian Koloko tallied 31. Gary Trent Jr. saw the fewest minutes of the starters but I wonder if that has anything to do with the back-to-back and potentially wanting to hold Fred VanVleet out of Monday’s game.
A few takeaways here are that Koloko is rapidly earning the trust of Nick Nurse and he’s seeing his minutes skyrocket. He now has started in 4 straight games and is playing a vital role in the Raptors’ defense as a 7-foot rookie rim protector. This should come as no surprise considering he is the reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.
On Sunday, Koloko recorded 11 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and six blocks. The dude is a savage and gets a rematch tonight against the Bulls then the next couple of games are against the Rockets, Thunder, Pacers, and Pistons.
On Sunday, his props were set at 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds, I fully expect those to increase for tonight’s game but we should look at his per 36-minute stats — those show averages of 6.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.8 steals, and 2.3 blocks and that’s primarily with Siakam. Those are still likely exploitable, especially his boards and blocks. This is not a flash in the pan.
Turning to the names we know and love, Scottie Barnes, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and Gary Trent Jr., they all experience a general uptick with Siakam; however, the two most notable are Barnes and VanVleet.
For reference their prop lines today were:
- Barnes: 16.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists
- FVV: 18.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists
Without Siakam they average:
- Barnes: 16.8 points / 8.3 rebounds / 3.1 assists
- FVV: 21.2 points / 7.8 assists / 5.5 rebounds
The books generally set these lines a touch high for Barnes, and FVV’s were a bit lower due to his return from injury on Sunday. I wouldn’t be surprised if FVV sits on Monday due to the back to back.
In that event, Barnes will see his assist percentage skyrocket, and I’d look to play those props and I’d take a look at his turnovers prop as well.
Knicks Switching Up Rotations
The New York Knicks have made it clear that they will experiment with a few different rotations moving forward and most recently sent Evan Fournier to the bench while inserting Cam Reddish into the starting lineup. Couple this with Mitchell Robinson’s sprained knee which should cost him at least a week and the Knicks will have plenty of time to experiment.
Jalen Brunson will continue to be an anchor for this starting lineup so I’m unconcerned about him. But what has been extremely encouraging is Cam Reddish, Obi Toppin, and Immanuel Quickley each have a positive point differential on the season (+13.4, +5.9, and +5.3 respectively per 100 possessions) .
While head coach Tom Thibodeau likes to play his starters extended minutes what’s been really interesting this season is both the traditional starting unit and the bench unit have been bad as currently constructed.
The starting lineup of Brunson, Fournier, Barrett, Randle, and Robinson is -8.8 points per 100 while the bench lineup of Rose, Quickley, Reddish, Toppin, and Hartenstein is -6.5. This is stunning because on the season the Knicks are just -1.2 points per 100. It’s these seemingly random lineups that are smashing.
Their best lineups generally start with Brunson which makes sense considering he’s their big free agent point guard acquisition. Brunson led lineups score 118.4 points per 100 possessions and playing with him gives a significant boon to the Knicks’ offense.
This naturally plays well for guys that struggle more to get their own shot or who should not be the primary ball handler for the offense (see Julius Randle). Speaking of Randle, there is a 26-point per 100 swing when Brunson is on the floor with him compared to those minutes when he is off the floor. Those are likely live betting opportunities against the Knicks (unfortunately).
As for props, the players with the most to gain at the moment are Reddish, Toppin, and Hartenstein. Reddish and Hartenstein both played 37+ minutes against the Celtics and Obi has the potential to be a microwave scorer.
Hartenstein recorded a Double-Double while Reddish logged a relatively unimpressive stat line of 4/2/2 but he was a +4 in terms of Box Plus/Minus so he should continue to see extended run.
Reddish’s per 36 minute stats with the Knicks are 14.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.5 steals. He may be a target for the hustle stats of rebounds and steals moving forward.
Hartenstein is the player I’m most interested in right now though. He is a per 36-minute monster throughout his career but now he may actually get a chance to shine without Robinson. His defense is exceptional, and he can rack up both steals and blocks. Looking at his last two seasons, his per 36-minute stats are 15.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.4 steals, and 2.3 blocks.
His prop lines on Monday night are 10.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.5 blocks, and 2.5 stocks. Those defensive props are exploitable, especially his steals. He has recorded a steal in seven games and a block in 8/9. I’d play either o0.5 steals or over 2.5 stocks if it is plus money.
Russell Westbrook Better Off the Bench?
Russell Westbrook has been transitioned into an elite bench player and it’s changed the Lakers’ rotations.
He is actually playing about the same number of minutes but his output is significantly better off the bench. He has averaged 18.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 6.5 assists off the bench compared to 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 4.3 assists as a starter.
Much of this is because he can run the bench unit without worrying about deferring to LeBron James. It’s given him the ability to play much more freely and it’s been successful. This is evident in his usage rate. In the first three games of the season, Westbrook had a Usage of 24.5%, off the bench? 30.6%.
That’s a significant increase in opportunity.
On Sunday, Westbrook’s props were set at 15.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists. All of those are numbers that are below his averages off the bench. Westbrook just recorded 26/3/6 against the Jazz on Nov. 4, and now gets a rematch tonight.
I’d expect him to continue dishing and scoring in what should be a fast-paced game.