If you watched ESPN’s Marvel-themed broadcast of the Golden State Warriors and New Orleans Pelicans game on Monday, you saw a night of heroes and wild graphics, along with Draymond Green taking home the most hero points.
I still can’t believe we didn’t get any over/under lines for hero points on the players, but that doesn’t mean we can’t bet on some “heroes” on Tuesday’s NBA card. Normally in this space, we play mostly role player props, but we’re playing the heroes this time.
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
Chris Paul — Under 9.5 Assists (-140)
|Suns vs. Cavaliers||Suns -13|
|Time | TV||7 p.m. ET | NBA TV|
Chris Paul’s hero name would surely just be Point God.
Paul, who has been one of the best in the business for the better part of two decades now, is still going strong. The veteran has the Phoenix Suns at the top of the NBA standings when they weren’t even a playoff team a year ago. And he’s doing that with his production on the court and leadership off of it.
Paul is starting to get some quiet MVP whispers now that the Suns have caught the national media’s attention, but the truth is he doesn’t have the numbers to stack up with the top contenders. He’s averaging 16.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 8.8 assists a game. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but they’re not MVP-caliber statistics.
Still, Paul is in the national conversation and the books are setting his line too high because of it.
This line expects double-digit assists from Paul, but we might not get that many in what should be a pretty easy game against the Cavaliers. Phoenix is so much better than Cleveland that it might struggle to keep up, which could likely lead to limited minutes for starters like Paul and that’s the key here.
When Paul plays under 32 minutes this season, he has gone under 9.5 assists in 23 of 30 such games, hitting this under 77% of the time. We project Paul at 29.5 minutes and 7.9 assists, well short of this number. The key here is that we’re really betting on the Suns being good enough to take care of business quickly and let him watch the fourth quarter from the sideline.
Even at -140 odds, I’ll drink that juice and bet on the Suns. As long as Paul doesn’t get big minutes, he shouldn’t have a big stat line. I’ll play to -160 odds.
LaMelo Ball — Over 6.5 Assists (+108)
|Hornets vs. Pistons||Hornets -4|
|Time | TV||7 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
LaMelo Ball has quickly become the biggest hero of the brothers. Ball has been the best rookie in basketball this year, looking well on his way to winning Rookie of the Year accolades. The books have also made him the big favorite.
Ball is averaging 15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game, with those numbers growing even further once he was finally moved into the starting lineup. And now that he has shaken off the rust after his wrist injury, he’s back playing regular minutes again.
Ball should act as the full-time lead handler, with fellow point guard Devonte’ Graham out injured, and that means more opportunities for him to show off his generational handling and passing abilities. That should be good for more than a few highlights, plus it should lead to plenty of assist opportunities.
With Ball, the key again is looking at the right set of games instead of the full season numbers. Ball’s averages are a bit lower on the season than they really ought to be, because he didn’t get as much time early.
However, in 27 games with at least 27 minutes played, Ball has gone over 6.5 assists in 18 of them, hitting this over 67% of the time. He’s averaging 7.1 APG during those games with higher minutes, versus just 4.5 APG in the other games, so the disparity is very clear.
Some books are offering a line at 5.5, and that over obviously looks good as well. Typically, I play the safer bet when we have options, but the truth is that Ball has gone over 5.5 assists but not 6.5 assists in only two more games, increasing our hit rate from 67% to 74 percent. That’s not enough of a margin to drink the steep juice on 5.5 when we can get plus juice on a favorable bet at 6.5. When Ball does clear this hurdle, he usually clears it with ease.
I’ll make the aggressive play here and go over 6.5 at any positive number. Otherwise, I’d play over 5.5 as high as -175. We project Ball at 7.6 assists.
Luguentz Dort, Over 17.5 Points (-104)
|Kings vs. Thunder||Kings -5.5|
|Time | TV||8 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
While Paul and Ball might be more obvious heroes, we saw Luguentz Dort reveal himself as one in last year’s playoffs when he went toe to toe with James Harden. Dort even dropped 30 points in a close Game 7 loss in his final game as a rookie.
Dort is the hero Oklahoma City deserves, but not the one it needs right now.
Since Oklahoma City has gone fully into tank mode, Dort has become its superhero scorer. He has been so good after the All-Star break that Oklahoma City appears to be benching him at times when he threatens the tank. Yet, Dort is playing and he’s been putting up big numbers when he does get to shine.
Dort is averaging 22.6 points per game in the eight games he’s played since the start of April. Who could have ever seen him scoring at this rate? It’s clear he has been given the full green light to hunt his shot and develop his scoring ability. This 22.6 PPG isn’t just a hot streak; it’s the result of huge volume.
Dort is taking 17.3 field goal attempts per game over that stretch, which is a huge number. That includes 7.9 3-point attempts, with him making 3.4 per game in this eight-game span. He might not be scoring efficiently, but we need points and Dort has been within a 3 of this over in all but one of those games.
Dort has gone over 17.5 points in five of the eight, and he’s had at least 24 points four times, including one game with 42, so the potential is clear.
This line is surprisingly low with as many shots as Dort is getting up. Personally, I’d have put it a couple points higher. That’s where we project Dort — at 19.5 points — so I’ll play the over to -125 odds.