NBA Player Props Betting Forecast: Welcome Back Kessler, Group Stage Coming to an End
Walker Kessler #24 of the Utah Jazz shoots during the second half of a game against the Memphis Grizzlies at Delta Center. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
We are now past Thanksgiving and the standings in each conference are beginning to take shape. This week we have the culmination of the Group Stage of the In-Season Tournament, and there should be plenty of angles that we can target in those games. There are no games scheduled for Sunday so all of the action will be packed into the next 6 days. Let's dive into this week!
NBA Player Props Betting Forecast
Walker Kessler's Return in Utah
Schedule: Nov. 27 vs. Pelicans | Nov. 29 at Grizzlies | Nov. 30 at Timberwolves
The Utah Jazz welcomed back Walker Kessler on Saturday after he had missed the prior 7 games due to a UCL sprain. In his return against the Pelicans, he grabbed 11 rebounds to go along with 11 points in just 21 minutes.
Kessler's return is significant from a betting perspective for both his own props but the Jazz as a whole. His usage is just 13.4% on the season, so when he is on the floor he does not necessarily demand the ball, but it changes the way the Jazz can play. Kessler is an excellent defensive piece and instantly improves the overall team defense. He has averaged 2.3 blocks per game so far throughout his career – his prop was set at 1.5 on Saturday when he returned off the bench and he had two swats then. I'll look to play his blocks on Monday night as well.
One player that I expect would be impacted by sharing the court with Kessler is John Collins. He has played about 4 fewer minutes with Kessler than without him and has recorded 8.6 rebounds per game compared to 9.0 without him.
The sample size this year is too small, but last season when Kessler was on the floor the Jazz's defense was 4.6 points better per 100 possessions, per Cleaning the Glass. Additionally, opponents saw their FG% drop by 4.1%, which is in the 95th percentile of all defenders. Considering Utah has the fourth-worst Defensive Rating, this will give them a boost along with make it tougher on their opponents to view Utah as a plus matchup.
In-Season Tournament Group Stage Conclusion
Schedule: Nov. 28, Bucks at Heat | Nov. 28, Hornets at Knicks | Nov. 28 Bulls at Celtics
The In-Season Tournament's Group Stage concludes on Tuesday and some teams and players have significantly more incentive to play and also run up the scores to advance into the next round. A few of those teams are in a position to need a win are the Kings, the Bucks, the Heat, the Knicks, the Celtics, the Timberwolves, the Warriors, the Rockets and the Nets. These teams all play on Tuesday and their ability to continue in the Tournament hangs in the balance.
A few of these teams simply need to win. Those teams are the Bucks, the Warriors, and the Rockets. All of the other teams essentially need to win and to win by a significant margin. We discussed this at length on Buckets but the thought is that teams will not pull their starters or best players if they are winning late in the games, rather, they will continue to push to build up on the point differential that's needed as the tiebreaker to advance.
The teams that are not only the most incentivized to win by a significant margin but also capable of doing so are the Celtics and the Knicks. The Celtics take on the Bulls and the Knicks take on the Hornets who may be without LaMelo Ball after he sprained his ankle on Sunday.
The Celtics must make up a significant margin to advance and considering they only play two games this week (Tuesday and Friday), they should be plenty rested. One player that torched the Bulls last season was Jayson Tatum. He averaged 30.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game in four matchups. Chicago has the 20th Ranked Defensive Rating on the season, per Basketball Reference, and should continue to allow monster performances from their opponents. Over the last two seasons, when Boston has won by 15+ points, Tatum has averaged 31.2 points per game. Chicago is a team the Celtics should be able to take care of, and it would not surprise me to see Tatum playing late into the game even in a potential blowout to attempt to advance into the next round.
The Knicks are another team that should be able to take care of business, especially if LaMelo (ankle) cannot play. This season, the Knicks have won both games by double-digits and LaMelo played in both of those games. This is a game the Knicks should be able to win, and the issue may remain just to see by how much. The primary players that we should expect to see perform are Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett, and Julius Randle. Brunson's stats are relatively static regardless of wins or losses; however, Julius Randle's splits are dramatic this season. In wins, he averages 21.6 points per game compared to just 15.3 in losses. The Knicks generally play their starters more minutes than most teams; however, I'd fully expect them to see as much run as they can handle to ensure they can advance in the In-Season Tournament. I'll be looking for points props for those three players, with my primary focus being Brunson, who has averaged 33.6 points per game in the Tournament's Group Stage.
Finally, in the Kings vs Warriors game on Tuesday, I fully anticipate playing Domantas Sabonis' rebounds prop. Since he has joined the Kings he has recorded 14, 14, 22, 18, and 11 rebounds when he has played against Kevon Looney and the Warriors. The 11 Rebound game is from November and he had 20 Rebound Chances – with the expectation being that this should be a close game anyways but it is important for the Tournament, I'd expect Sabonis to play significant minutes. On the other side, Kevon Looney has also played well in this matchup. In those same matchups, Looney has averaged 10.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists with totals of 8, 13, 10, 12, and 9 rebounds to go along with 6, 4, 2, 6, and 6 assists. His rebounds + assists prop is one I'd target on Tuesday night.