Knicks sophomore R.J. Barrett was the third pick in the NBA Draft one year ago, and some compared him to Andrew Wiggins as he prepared to go pro. Barrett is a lanky forward with athleticism, scoring, and passing ability, and he starred next to Zion Williamson at Duke and was a monster in transition.
I never bought the Barrett hype, and I’ve rarely missed an opportunity to dump on both Barrett and Wiggins. I’ve seen more than my fair share of Maple Jordan as a lifelong Minnesota Timberwolves fan and didn’t hold back my unbridled joy last February in our Action Network reaction round table when the Wolves finally pawned Wiggins off on the Golden State Warriors in a trade.
That trade isn’t looking quite as joyous these days, but I still love an opportunity to fade Wiggins or Barrett at any turn, and tonight is a special opportunity to fade both at once in our daily prop picks.
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. There are seven props today at 9 or higher.
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
R.J. Barrett under 16.5 points (-118)
|Rockets at Knicks||+1|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
R.J. Barrett has certainly been better as a sophomore than he was as a rookie. Barrett is averaging 16.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.1 assists this year. His defense has improved significantly under Tom Thibodeau, and his shooting numbers are starting to tick up, though the efficiency certainly still leaves plenty to be desire.
Barrett is moving in the right direction but still feels like a pretty big disappointment for New York fans who missed out on Zion Williamson and Ja Morant with the top two picks a year ago and are left with Barrett instead. Barrett’s passing and playmaking has always been a strength, but with Julius Randle playing at an All-Star level for the Knicks this season and featuring as the team’s leading creator, that just hasn’t left as much time on the ball for Barrett, and that’s keeping him from putting up big scoring numbers.
Barrett has scored 14 or fewer points in 11 of 27 games this season, and his scoring is trending down lately. He’s failed to top 18 points in any of his last six games, averaging 12.2 PPG during that stretch and going under this number four times.
A game against the Rockets probably won’t make life much easier. Houston has had the league’s top rated defense since trading James Harden, and this game should be a defensive struggle without a ton of scoring. I’m taking this opportunity to fade Barrett.
Andrew Wiggins under 19.5 points (-105)
|Nets at Warriors||+4|
|Time||8:30 p.m. ET|
Did the Warriors win the Andrew Wiggins and D’Angelo Russell trade with Minnesota? Golden State is certainly feeling pretty good about itself right now. The former No. 1 overall draft pick is averaging 17.6 points per game for the Warriors, and more importantly, he’s doing the little things.
Wiggins is averaging 1.9 stocks (steals plus blocks) per game, a career best, and he’s trying hard on defense and filling a role for a good team. And the Warriors will still get Minnesota’s draft pick this year, too.
Wiggins has always been a volume scorer, but that volume is starting to fade a bit this season in a new role. The Warriors already have plenty of scoring, after all. They need Wiggins to be Harrison Barnes, not Klay Thompson, and he’s doing that lately. Wiggins has only scored more than 23 points once all season, and he’s only hit 20 and cleared this over in seven of 26 of his games, going under 73.1% of the time.
It’s never going to feel great taking an under in a game between the Nets and Warriors that could end up being the first one to 150, so let’s talk this one through. Wiggins should play heavy minutes like usual, and he always gets his shots up. But the numbers suggest Wiggins should go under again here like he has often this season, and we project him at 16.6 points.
There are other ways to go under too. Wiggins could easily get into foul trouble against the dynamic Nets superstars, and the mercurial player still tends to go completely missing in action for stretches of big games too. I always relish an opportunity to fade Wiggins, so I’ll play the under here at -105 at DraftKings, and up to -120.
Juan Toscano-Anderson over 5.5 rebounds (-152)
|Nets at Warriors||+4|
|Time||8:30 p.m. ET|
Juan Toscano-Anderson is living the dream.
He was playing ball in the Mexican league and in the G-League as recently as a couple years ago, and now he’s starting in his hometown next to the greatest shooter in NBA history, and he’s soaking up every second of it. Toscano-Anderson went viral this week when he started celebrating before Curry had even shot the ball when JTA passed the ball off for a wide-open 3 his teammate drained. Suddenly, he’s interviewing with Rachel Nichols and leading ESPN’s highlights.
The dream won’t last forever, but we may as well continue to ride Toscano-Anderson while he’s hot. The Warriors continue to play super small while James Wiseman and Kevon Looney are out, and they’ve certainly found their rhythm. Draymond Green is playing point center on offense, dishing out double-digit dimes each night out, and he and Toscano-Anderson are the big men in defense.
That didn’t go so well for Toscano-Anderson his last time out against Nikola Vucevic and the Orlando Magic. Vooch is one of the league’s elite reounders, and we played his rebounding over for a win in this space against the small Warriors. Toscano-Anderson finished with only five boards and played just 20 minutes.
But in the four games before that, Toscano-Anderson had at least eight rebounds in each, averaging 8.8 points and 9.3 boards over that stretch. The Brooklyn Nets offer no such elite big man for JTA to tussle with, and even DeAndre Jordan is out tonight so the Nets will likely play small and fast too. There will be lots of scoring in this one and plenty of rebounds for everyone.
We’re projecting him at 7.2 boards, and even that would be a disappointment the way Toscano-Anderson has been playing. You can play an over 6.5 at plus juice at some books if you prefer, but I typically like taking the surer thing and will play the over 5.5 as high as -180 here.