It’s Friday night in the NBA and we’ve got a jam-packed slate with 11 games going on tonight.
We are starting to build a little bit more of a sample-size for player statistics as we plunge forward into the NBA and, with hoops in the bright lights tonight, it’s a great night to kick back and attack some props on the board. These are my 5 favorite prop plays on the board:
KAT over 27.5 Points
The injury bug has hit Golden State and they’ll limp into Minnesota tonight with a seriously depleted roster, as we’ve seen these past few games. While much of the attention is being paid to the backcourt injuries to Steph Curry and DeAngelo Russell (who is probable here tonight), I’m honing in here on the cluster-frontcourt injuries to Draymond Green and Kevon Looney. Green and Looney would theoretically be playing a majority of the available frontcourt minutes and are, by far, the two best interior defenders on this roster. Now, those minutes have been turned over to a frontcourt rotation of Willie Cauley-Stein, Omari Spellman, and Marqueese Chriss… yikes.
The Warriors, in the 3 games since Draymond went down with his injury, have given up super-efficient scoring lines to opposing big men. Clint Capela shot 64% from the field on 14 attempts, Hassan Whiteside shot 71% from the field on 14 attempts, and Charlotte bigs PJ Washington and Cody Zeller combined to shoot 60% from the field on 15 attempts. The bet on KAT’s point total going over here is just that this efficiency can scale with more volume.
KAT comes back home plenty motivated here after a 2-game suspension resulting from his scuffle with Joel Embiid and a rough unexpected blowout loss @ Memphis. KAT went for 25 in that game, missing 8 threes and shooting 42% from the field. That kind of inefficient performance is unlikely here at home. He has eclipsed 27.5 easily both times he’s shot >50% from the floor (excluding ejection game in Philly), and I expect a cake-walk for him here against an outclassed Warriors front court. KAT goes for 30+ tonight.
Joe Harris over 12.5 Points, over 2.5 Threes
Rarely do you see prop lines set where the guy has exceeded both totals in every single game so far in the season. Maybe I’m getting trapped here, but I’m willing to chase what I see as considerable value until it fails me. Harris is shooting the absolute shit out of the ball this year (oddsmakers seem hungry for regression) and has been one of the few Nets to successfully coalesce well with the new style that Kyrie has brought to their offense.
What I like about this situation is that Harris has played 30 minutes or more in every game this season, gotten up 8 or more shots in every game, and at least 50% of his shots have been threes in every game but one. His volume is the model of consistency. With a total set really high here at 233, look for Harris to get even more looks to gun. The Nets get up and down and, in their last game against the Pelicans which saw 260 total points and a breakneck pace, Harris got off 14 shots, 9 threes, and went for 19 points on 4 made threes.
The Blazers, meanwhile, are on a brutal second game of a back-to-back that had them in the late-night primetime slot in Los Angeles last night. Now, they come home to face a Nets team that hasn’t played since Monday. Brooklyn would be smart to push the pace here and get out in transition, which means wide-open looks for Harris. He’ll knock them down tonight and continue his hot start to the season.
Nikola Jokic over 16.5 Boards and Assists
This was a huge trend for me last year late in the season and in the playoffs, where Jokic tends to be much more passive and and get the rest of his teammates involved at home while looking to be more of a scorer on the road. It makes perfect sense, of course, as role players tend to shoot it better at home and the road is the place where stars need to take matters into their own hands. In the playoffs last year, every Nuggets home game was a play on Jokic over boards and assists, and every Nuggets road game was a play on Jokic over points.
This line is set at 16.5 strictly due to Jokic’s early-season struggles, which have been admittedly real. He’s looked a bit out of shape and disinterested so far. However, I still believe in the kid and his numbers. The Nuggets have played three games at home so far this season, two in which he had 26 boards and assists, and 20 boards and assists respectively. The third was earlier this week against Miami, where he went under this total, but also only played 23 minutes in a game the Nuggets controlled.
Now, this team has only played two games in the last seven days and should be very well-rested going into a big spot at home against Philly. There’s no excuses for Jokic’s conditioning here as he played 23 minutes 3 days ago. He’s got to have it going tonight. The matchup also calls for Jokic to be a distributor, as he can pull Embiid away from the hoop by being a passing hub on the perimeter. I think this prop is set super-low and as long as Jokic plays 30 minutes here tonight, he should be involved enough in the action to go over this total. Triple-double should be in play as well.
Julius Randle over 17.5 Points
With the news that Fizdale is considering starting Julius Randle at center tonight with Mitch Robinson out of the lineup, I think this has to be a play. Randle has not been playing well by any stretch recently but seemed to come out of his funk a little bit in the Knicks last game against the Pistons, finally getting back to 20 points. This will be a hometown return for Randle who grew up in the Dallas area and I expect 15 or more FGA from him tonight.
Meanwhile, this Dallas team protects the rim well but has also gotten burned by big-man scorers recently. Their past three games have seen them allow 55 points combined to Orlando’s starting front-court on 55% shooting, 29 to Kevin Love, and 31 to Anthony Davis. Randle isn’t a world-beater but he can score the basketball. If lineups include more spacing with Robinson’s non-shooting out of the lineup, he should excel offensively even if the Knicks defense takes a massive hit.
Randle hasn’t shot it well at all this year but 17.5 looks a little low for me here. I expect the Knicks to come out super-aggressive in a KP revenge game and Randle will get downhill early and often. With 15-20 shots and hopefully 5 more points at the free-throw line, Randle goes for 20+ tonight. The Knicks probably get blown the fuck out though, of course.
Ja Morant o17.5 Points
The kid is figuring it out more and more every game. He’s been an absolute delight to watch, has the ball in his hands like crazy, and is seeing his scoring potential increase on a nightly basis. He should have the chance to get 20 shots up here tonight and is averaging 24 a game over his last five. I understand the line being set at 17.5 here with a pretty low total (208) and the likelihood of some scoring regression, but I’m just not looking to fade Morant at this number. Why would you? He’s had some really nice shooting nights, sure, but also just put up 26 in just 26 minutes while shooting <50% from the floor and not making a single three. That’s extremely impressive from a rookie whose volume continues to rise. If he gets close to 20 shots up tonight, he goes over this total easily.
The Magic are known to have a great defense but have also recently inserted Markelle Fultz into the starting lineup. He’s been a fun story so far this year but is not close to being a great defender (yet). So long as Ja gets his minutes, he should feast on Fultz tonight. Morant goes for 25 here and makes more rookie of the year noise on a Friday night.
Best of luck everyone!