We had some fun last night, didn’t we?
On Monday, I introduced you to the new Blocks section of our Props Tool and recommended a bet on Kelly Oubre over 0.5 blocks given his history and the odds slightly in our favor.
The game tipped off and, wouldn’t you know it, less than two minutes into the game on San Antonio’s fourth possession, Oubre stuffed Dejounte Murray at the rim and the play hit.
That being said, not many props can be winners after two minutes, so that was a fun one to collect on. Oubre ended up adding a second later in the game, so today we’re going back to the well for another prop in the same category.
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
Immanuel Quickley, Under 11.5 Points (-100)
|Knicks at Heat||Heat -6 (FanDuel)|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
That loud audible sigh you just heard was from the collective New York Knicks fans all around the country.
Here we go again.
The Knicks look like they finally did something right by drafting Immanuel Quickley late in the first round. The rookie is an excellent movement shooter who can heat up and knock down shots in a hurry, and he’s flashed some surprising ability running point with the ball in his hands as well.
So naturally, head coach Tom Thibodeau is yanking his minutes all over the place and has now traded for old faithful Derrick Rose to screw with Quickley’s minutes even further.
It remains to be seen if Rose will be available to play Tuesday in Miami. He will join the team there, but would be playing without any practice with a young team and entirely new roster. However, it’s Thibodeau and he trusts his guys, so you never know if Rose will get a chance and how much he might get to play, especially against his old buddy, Jimmy Butler.
Yet, the truth is that even before New York traded for Rose, Quickley’s minutes were already bouncing all over the place. Remember that Sunday game against Portland a few weeks ago when Quickley poured in 31 points?
Quickley scored 25 points two games later, then 25 again the following game. His scoring dropped to 16 the game after, but was buoyed by six rebounds and seven assists. Not a bad five-game stretch for a rookie that resulted in averages of 20.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists.
So how did Thibodeau respond? He shuttered him.
After averaging 26 minutes during that stretch, Thibodeau turned back to his veterans over the last week and gave Quickley only 14.4 minutes per game, with his numbers dropping accordingly to 8.7 points per game. After al, it’s hard to score from the bench and rookie lessons must be taught.
Quickley has yet to make an NBA start, and it’s only fair to assume his minutes could slide even further with Rose around. We’re projecting him at just 13.6 minutes in this game, and if that’s all he gets, it’ll be very hard to get to 12 points and hit this over. We project him at barely half that at just 6.5 points.
You never know when Thibodeau will ride the rookie again, and it’s always possible this will be Quickley’s last stand before Rose starts to play, but I’ll stay with the recent trends and fade the rookie as high as -150 odds. Our projections give this prop a 38.5-percent edge in our favor, by far the highest on the board.
James Ennis, Over 7.5 Points (-120)
|Magic at Trail Blazers||Trail Blazers -6 (PointsBet)|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
And here we come to an old faithful in this column: the old “Someone Has To Score for the Magic” corollary.
But first, a quick refresher.
The Magic are already without Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz for the remainder of the season. Evan Fournier was out a few weeks, came back and hit a bunch of scoring overs for us and is now out again. Aaron Gordon is gone for another month.
That leaves Nikola Vucevic as the only remaining Magic starter. He’s joined by rookie point guard Cole Anthony and pretty much anyone else Orlando can find to throw out there.
That said, James Ennis is that anyone.
Ennis is a career role player 3-and-D type guy. He’s a pro, a guy who can soak up minutes and play decent without embarrassing his team. And now, that’s basically the best the Magic can find for help with their limited options. He started the last game next to Dwayne Bacon and Gary Clark. Bacon is a natural scorer and will soak up a bunch of shots, but Clark is even more of a 3-and-D guy who rarely shoots, so that should leave some opportunities for Ennis.
Ennis has actually started all but one of his appearances for the Magic, and he’s scored double digits only twice all season. However, both of those games came in the past week, and he played a season-high 29 minutes his last time out with Fournier sidelined.
This is nothing but a minutes-and-opportunity play, and that’s been working with these Magic guys. We’re projecting Ennis to play another 29 minutes, and if he’s out there, it just won’t be that hard to get to eight points and hit this over. He’s averaging a point per 3.4 minutes this year, and his numbers have ticked up with Fournier and Gordon out. Ennis usually gets at least one three, and he’s been getting to the line a bit lately, too.
I’m not expecting a huge or even big game from Ennis, but we don’t need one. Just eight points will do the trick and I’ll play it to -150 odds. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see this line rise to 8.5 at some books, and would play it at plus juice if available.
Robert Covington, Under 0.5 Blocks (+185)
|Magic at Trail Blazers||Blazers -6.5 (BetMGM)|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
As I said in the introduction, we’re going with another blocks prop, but this time it’s a fade play.
I have long been a staunch Robert Covington defender as one of the game’s elite 3-and-D wings on what is seemingly a lifetime bargain contract, and I thought he was the perfect pickup as a forward who could cover defensively for the star Blazers guards.
Unfortunately, Covington hasn’t fit in at all. His scoring is down to 7.6 points after averaging double-digit points every year since his rookie season, and he has the worst Defensive Rating and other defensive metrics of his career.
It’s always tough to quantify defensive value with actual numbers, but the eye test matches those metrics. It looks like Covington has lost a step, and you have to wonder if half a season as a Houston Rockets center was just too much wear and tear on a 6-foot-7 dude who has never exactly been a beacon of health.
Covington just doesn’t look explosive, and one telltale sign is his quickly dwindling block total. After averaging 1.4 blocks per game for his career before the trade to Houston, Covington exploded with 3.1 blocks per game with the Rockets last season. He has really good hand placement, plus he’s a natural shot blocker.
However, this season back on the perimeter, Covington has plummeted to just 0.8 blocks per game, a career low. He’s recorded a block in only nine of 20 Blazers games and has only had more than one once — and that was two.
It’s trending the wrong direction as well. After Covington missed a couple games injured in late January, he’s returned to record just one block over his last six games. That’s not much of a sample size, but it’s still not a positive.
We’re looking at about a coin flip on whether Covington will get a block in any game right now, and it’s starting to feel like the coin is weighted a little in our favor. So at +185 odds almost 2-to-1 in our favor, let’s take this new Blocks Tool out for another spin. I’d play down to +150 odds.
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