Thursday NBA Player Prop Bets & Picks: Target Assists Total With Blazers Star CJ McCollum (March 18)
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Portland Trail Blazers star CJ McCollum.
It's a West Coast magic kind of night, and we're heading West to catch the late NBA action after enjoying our First Four games of March Madness.
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
CJ McCollum, Over 3.5 Assists (+105)
|Pelicans vs. Blazers||Blazers -1.5|
|Time | TV||10 p.m. ET | League Pass|
Welcome back, CJ McCollum.
The Portland Trail Blazers standout was off to the best start to a season in his career before injuries sidelined him. Really, I'd say those first 12 games of the current campaign were the best stretch of McCollum's career and by a pretty sizable margin.
Just check out the numbers. McCollum was averaging 27.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game, and making almost five 3-pointers per game at 43 percent from behind the arc. There was a lot of talk about whether McCollum would have made his first All-Star Game, but those aren't just clear All-Star numbers. Those are All-NBA numbers. That's superstar production.
Of course, we don't know if that represented a serious leap forward from McCollum or if it was just a stretch of blazing hot shooting. McCollum got hurt Jan. 16 and missed two full months, finally returning Tuesday with an ugly showing. He finished with just 10 points and two assists on 3-of-11 shooting from the field in 26 minutes. Not great.
Still, I'm willing to bet on McCollum. The scoring will come and go, but just having him out there changes everything for Portland. It resets the team's hierarchy correctly, giving the Blazers another shot taker and another creator to finally take some pressure off of Damian Lillard.
I think we get more than 30 minutes from McCollum in this game which is close to a full go. McCollum had at least three assists every game this season until this last two appearances — the game where he got hurt and his injury returned.
He's gone over 3.5 assists in nine of 12 healthy games, hitting the play 75% here and we're getting plus juice. I love it there and would bet to -125 odds.
Anthony Edwards, Under 21.5 points (-110)
|Timberwolves vs. Suns||Suns -10|
|Time | TV||10 p.m. ET | League Pass|
The former No. 1 draft pick is having himself a moment.
First, it was that nasty poster dunk, and now Anthony Edwards is filling up the box score. He's up to 16.2 points per game on the season, but Edwards has really seen his numbers take off with D'Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley out, leaving plenty of shots and usage for the rookie.
Edwards scored 29 points against the Los Angeles Lakers his last time out, plus he had a career-high 34 points against the Blazers the game before. Suffice it to say, everyone is talking about Edwards.
And that's why it's time to fade the rookie.
As nice as those last two games have looked, Edwards averaged only 16.9 PPG over his previous 10 games. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's also a reminder he's still basically around that same season average outside of those last two games. We're just getting a boosted line here because of recency bias.
Edwards has also hit at least 40% of his threes in four consecutive games, but his 3-point variances bounce around a lot and his scoring suffers when those outside shots don't fall. We project Edwards at 18.8 points in this spot, which still puts him a bucket short here. I'll fade the rookie to -130 odds.
Montrezl Harrell, Over 19.5 Points + Assists (+100)
|Hornets vs. Lakers||Lakers -7|
|Time | TV||10:30 p.m. ET | NBA TV|
Finally, the Lakers have found what they were looking for in Montrezl Harrell.
News out of the All-Star break was Anthony Davis would sit another couple weeks at least, and I have been waiting weeks for that news to mean a boost in Harrell's numbers. And now, at long last, it looks like that boost has come.
Harrell is playing 30 minutes per game over his last four outings, and he's averaging 23.8 points during that stretch. His usage and shots are way up as well, taking almost 16 shots per game. This is what I expected with Davis out. This is what Harrell's here for — big, regular-season minutes keeping this team afloat while they keep the more important guys healthy for the games that really matter.
Harrell has scored 26, 17, 27 and 25 in those four games, and I think he has a pretty good shot at getting into the 20s again against the Charlotte Hornets. Do I like Harrell's passing? Nah, not really, though we do project him at 1.8 assists in this contest. I just like the combo here because I think Harrell clears this on points alone, and this is the Harrell points prop giving us even odds.
Harrell has been a beast lately, his energy keeping the Lakers going in the doldrums of the season. I love this spot for him against the Hornets and think he's in for another big scoring night. I'd play to -135 odds.