NBA Player Prop Bets & Picks for Thursday: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Carmelo Anthony Highlight Fades on Card (May 13)
Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo.
- Big names should not always be backed in the player props market, whether you're an aging star or two-time MVP.
- Brandon Anderson breaks down his best plays in the prop market for Thursday night in the NBA.
With just a few days left in the NBA season, there's uncertainty everywhere. Not a single playoff seed has been locked in yet with only four days to go, with motivations being a question for many teams.
At this point of the year, many of the biggest stars are starting to see their minutes fade. So, I'm much more comfortable taking unders for the big names just because those minutes might drop and not allow the opportunity to hit an over. That said, we're playing three unders on Thursday's card.
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
Giannis Antetokounmpo — Under 29.5 points (-106)
|Bucks vs. Pacers||Bucks -9.5|
|Time | TV||7 p.m. ET | Sportsnet|
Giannis Antetokounmpo is a monster who can put up any number at any time, and this looks like a very fast-paced, high-scoring game. That sure sounds like a great time to be on the over for a perennial MVP candidate.
Antetokounmpo's numbers are down just a little this year. He's at 28.2 points and 11.0 rebounds per game this season, both lower than last year despite playing more minutes. Dig into the numbers a little deeper, though, and you see a tale of two seasons.
From Feb. 5 to March 17, Antetokounmpo looked like the statistical Godzilla we saw a year ago. He averaged 31.3 points per game during that stretch, going over 29.5 points in 11 of 19 games and hitting this play 58% of the time.
However, take away that MVP stretch and the numbers precipitously fall off. In 40 other games, Antetokounmpo has averaged 26.7 points per game, almost five full PPG lower than that hot stretch around the All-Star break. He only went over 29.5 points in 13 of those 40 games, with the under hitting a whopping 69% of the time.
Antetokounmpo was ramping down a bit already with the return of a full-strength Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, but that was before he missed a couple weeks in early April to injury. Since his return, it feels like the Bucks are just keeping him in third or fourth gear, and warm and ready for the playoffs.
He's gone under 29.5 points in four consecutive games and in 10 of 14 since his return, hitting the under 71% of the time. That's a lot and also about in line with his whole season outside of that one huge stretch.
This won't be fun in such a high-scoring game, but we project Antetokounmpo at 26 points, so I'll play this one to -125 odds.
Clint Capela — Under 30.5 Points + Rebounds (-120)
|Magic vs. Hawks||Hawks -12|
|Time | TV||7:30 p.m. ET | League Pass|
Like Antetokounmpo, it seems Clint Capela is ramping things down a bit as the Hawks — yes, the Atlanta Hawks — prepare for a playoff run of their own.
Over the last eight games, Capela's minutes have dropped to 27.9 per game. His production is down to 13.3 points and 12.0 rebounds per contest. That's still pretty good. Yet, contrast that to Capela's production since April 1 up until this stretch: 18.2 points and 16.4 rebounds in 34.2 minutes per game.
That's nearly a 20% drop in time on the court, and the points and rebounds have dropped even further. I'm not sure anything is wrong. I think the Hawks just know how good and valuable Capela is to the them. Now that the rest of the team is finally mostly healthy, Atlanta is spreading the minutes around more and biding time. The hope isn't to only making the playoffs, but win a series once it gets there.
During these eight recent games, Capela has gone under 30.5 points plus rebounds six times, and the two overs were by just 0.5 and 1.5 on the total. He's averaging 25.3 in the prop in this stretch, which is where we project him.
Our Props Tool also loves Capela to go under 3.5 steals plus blocks at BetMGM, and it's basically taking any Capela under available, so this could be a spot to make a single-game parlay just fading Capela if that's up your alley.
I'll stick with this number staying under the total. I'll play it to -145 odds.
Carmelo Anthony — Under 17.5 PTS + RBS + ASTS (-113)
|Blazers vs. Suns||Suns -4.5|
|Time | TV||10 p.m. ET | TNT|
Well, it's come to this. Carmelo Anthony is a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer, but the old man is seeing his role fade yet again in the twilight of his career.
Anthony had taken on a bigger role for the Blazers earlier this season, and to be fair, they needed it. The Blazers badly needed his individual scoring ability, even limited as it is these days, with CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkić missing for so much of the season.
However, as Portland has gotten healthy — and really good, winning nine of its last 10 games — Anthony's role has been minimized with all those iso shots no longer needed or particularly helpful.
Since Portland's game on April 21, Anthony has seen his minutes reduced to just 21.3 per game and his numbers have fallen off to 13.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and 0.9 assists per game.
That's 17.0 points plus rebounds plus assists (PRA) per game, and Anthony has gone under 17.5 PRA in seven of these last 11 games. That means he's hitting the under 64% of the time. Anthony has still scored double digits in all but one of those games, yet he's still not getting to 17.5 PRA total.
It gets worse, though. It's not like Anthony has just gone cold. He's actually shot well during this stretch, making 57.1% of his 3-pointers, so his point total is actually inflated from what would be expected. Anthony is only attempting 9.2 field goals per game right now. Considering his typical efficiency at this stage of his career, it's pretty reasonable to expect that 1.46 points per shot to fall as the shooting regresses.
Anthony is just a role player now, and he's filling a small role these days. That's a role that could be even smaller in a really important game against Phoenix, in which Portland's starter minutes should be elevated.
We project Anthony at 22 minutes, with just 10.3 points and 14.3 PRA in this showdown. Plus, our Props Tool rates this a 10 out of 10. I'll play the under and fade Anthony to -130 odds.