It’s Underdog Night here at Action Network!
The NBA is a star-driven league, but tonight we are playing props for three role players. These guys may not get a ton of shine, and they’re not the faces you see when the league advertises a game, but role players are scrappers who fight hard for every minute. Tonight’s three role players should earn big minutes with teammates missing, and we’re hoping the underdogs shine in bigger roles and opportunities tonight.
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. There are six total props with a 10 rating in our props tool.
NBA Player Props & Picks
Joe Harris over 4.5 rebounds (+135)
|Nets at 76ers||+4.5|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
Ready to have a little fun with a longer shot?
It was a weird Friday night for the Brooklyn Nets. Kevin Durant was a late scratch just minutes before the game when he was revealed to be in the health protocols with contact tracing, only to be cleared a few minutes later and make his first ever appearance off the bench in the NBA.
But further testing less than an hour later forced Durant from the game again, and now it sounds like Durant didn’t even travel to Philadelphia for today’s game. With Kyrie Irving out too and the Nets one of the thinnest teams in the league after their blockbuster trade, that should mean a heavy minutes load for Joe Harris.
I was watching the game with my dad last night and he wanted to know who that guy was who just stands in the corner and shoots. Imagine his surprise when he found out Joe Harris is a career 43% 3-point shooter who’s at nearly 50% this season, that’s he’s a 3-Point Shootout champion, and that he just signed a $72-million extension with the Nets this summer.
My dad thinks he would accept a contract half that size to stand in the corner and shoot open threes with KD, Kyrie, and the Beard, but I think he’s underselling Joe. Harris has become a solid all-around starter over the past three seasons, averaging 14.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.2 assist during that time. His scoring is at a career-high this season, even with all those stars around him.
Unlike his starrier teammates, Harris has started every game this season for the Nets, and his production has gone up when at least one of the three star Nets sits. In 12 such games, Harris is averaging 16.3 points and 4.1 rebounds, compared to 13.9 PPG and 3.4 RPG in games with the full Brooklyn cadre. He’s gone over this rebounding line in half of those 12 games, and with a line like this, we only have to hit this prop 43% of the time for it to have positive value.
We’re projecting Harris at 35.5 minutes tonight, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him push 40 if this game is close (and Philadelphia might be shorthanded too). We project Harris at 18.4 points and 5.0 rebounds. His points over is still 13.5 at some books as of writing but rising quickly with Durant likely out. That looks like a good play if KD doesn’t play, but the rebounds look like a positive proposition too.
Want to get really crazy? BetMGM is listing Harris over 0.5 blocks at +700, implying a 12.5% chance of him getting a block. In these last three seasons as a starter, Harris has at least one block in 37 of 169 games. That’s 21.9%, nearly double that rate. This is not a full unit play, but those odds are heavily in our favor, especially if Harris plays big minutes. You might even think about parlaying two or three of these together if you want to go for broke and call it a Joe Harris Night.
I’ll play just the rebounding over to +115.
Juan Toscano-Anderson over 5.5 rebounds (-115)
|Warriors at Mavericks||+4.5|
|Time||8:30 p.m. ET|
You’re forgiven if you’ve never heard of Juan Toscano-Anderson. JTA has only played in 22 NBA games, though he’s started in nine of them and just had one of the best games of his career on national television Thursday night in Dallas. Toscano-Anderson recorded 14 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and two blocks and played nearly 40 minutes for the Warriors.
Toscano-Anderson is a Mexican-American player who won two championships and an individual MVP in the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional in Mexico. That earned him a two-way contract with the Warriors a year ago when the team was extremely shorthanded with all its injuries, and now he’s getting another big opportunity with the Warriors missing guys again. Golden State is missing its entire center rotation with Marquese Chriss, James Wiseman, and Kevon Looney sidelined, so the Warriors are playing smaller and JTA is playing big.
Toscano-Anderson played 26.9 minutes on Tuesday and 39.6 Thursday, and though he’s a wing by nature, he’s playing up a position or two right now. Golden State doesn’t have a player bigger than 6-foot-7 in the rotation at the moment, so at 6-foot-6, Toscano-Anderson is a de facto big for this team. He’s a good rebounder who averages 6.8 rebounds per 36 minutes for his career, and as well as JTA is playing, he’s earning just about that many minutes these days.
That career game Thursday was against the Mavericks, so Toscano-Anderson should enter the rematch brimming with confidence and ready for another big game and plenty more minutes. We project him at 7.1 rebounds in 31.1 minutes and give this prop a 15.7% edge, one of our highest on the board today.
I’ll play JTA confidently up to -140. We Andersons gotta stick together.
Thaddeus Young over 4.5 assists (+130)
|Bulls at Magic||-1|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
Thad Young has been something of an NBA journeyman. Young played his first seven seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers, but he’s now played for five teams over the past seven seasons and could well be on his way to a sixth before this year is over. But Young has been a solid role player at just about every stop. He plays hard, is an excellent defender, and just does a professional job on every team.
The Bulls are missing Wendell Carter Jr. right now, which has shoved sophomore Daniel Gafford into the starting lineup, but Gafford is a starter by name only. He’s playing just 10 or 15 minutes a game, and Young has been a star off the bench. Over the last five Bulls games, Young is averaging 14.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 7.0 assists in almost 30 minutes a game.
It’s those 7.0 assists that have really caught my eye. Suddenly, Thad is a playmaker. He nearly had a triple-double a week ago against the Blazers, coming up one bucket short with 11 assists on the night. Those assist numbers have dropped the last two games, but Young is still over 4.5 dimes in four of his last five games.
And he should get big minutes again tonight. The Bulls are missing Carter and look like they’ll be without Otto Porter and Lauri Markkanen too. Young should log big minutes by default. We’re projecting him at 33 minutes and 4.6 assists. That’s already over this number, and our projections are usually careful to over-adjust for recent trends. I’m playing the recent trend and riding Young’s passing while he stays hot. I’ll play Young to +110.
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