The prop shop: NBA props to play
Late October is one of my favorite, and most exciting, times of the year. As a sports producer and writer, I get to cover a different event each and every night. NFL and college football are in mid-season, baseball has just concluded (congrats Chicago), hockey is finally back, and the NBA is ready to tip off; I am the proverbial kid in a candy store. I get a five-month sugar rush, then a February headache waiting for spring training. But for now, I have my sports -- all day, every day.
With that being said, I recently read fellow Doc’s Sports writer Mike Hayes’ article on NBA Win Totals, and it got me inspired to look into some props for myself. Using our recommended betting site, Nine Sportsbook, I found that there are tons of great prop bets to make plays on, but three plays really caught my eye - and ultimately my credit card number.
Teams to Win the Central Division:
This is a great play for any bettor. Positive money-lines are an addiction for me. When I like a team to win outright and I can get away with no juice, I play. Such is the case with the Central Division race. This is obviously different than picking a one-game winner with a money-line, as you have to project the entire season, but you still have to like the potential here. I won’t tell you my play, but I can walk you through a thought process. First off, although improved, the Milwaukee “Button Bucks” are not going to win the division; even at +1900 you’re wasting money. The “Baby Bulls” at +850 have some value, but the top of the division is still too good, and I wiped them off this play also. With those two out of the way, it is a three team race between, Cleveland, Detroit and Indiana.
Indiana is the favorite, and rightfully so - they had a few great off-season additions and they get back their three best players -- Jackson, O’Neal and Artest -- for what is expected to be a full season. Detroit returned their entire squad from the past two NBA Championships, and have found that Darko has a playing pulse and could possibly contribute. And Cleveland, who was leading the division until a mid-season collapse, added Damon Jones, Larry Hughes and Donyell Marshall to help out LBJ and Zydrunas Ilguaskas. You can call this a toss up, which lead to the line as it is, but as a bettor, take your pick, as this is great situation to be in.
Many of the prop bets on Nine Sportsbook are player versus player, and a lot of them are bettor friendly. Do yourself a favor and check out Nine for yourself. But, these are the other two plays that I really liked, and played on.
Highest Scoring Average:
Kevin Garnett -1 (-115)
Tim Duncan +1 (-115)
Although Doc’s Sports does not endorse my plays, I would make this my No-Brain Play of the Year. KG head-to-head with Tim Duncan and only a minus-one differential. Whoa. Career numbers would favor Duncan (22.5 PPG versus 20.2), but the first three years in the league for KG, he was still under 21 years old, while Duncan was more polished. What I looked at here was the past six seasons, and the numbers are surprisingly close for the two superstars, however, they still favor Duncan- 22.8 PPG versus 22.6.
So why is this, the Prop P.O.Y for me?
Because Duncan is concluding his career; and The Big Ticket is still “The Man” in Minnesota. Duncan’s games-played have decreased each of the past four seasons. His health, or lack there of, has had a negative impact on his minutes and points per game -both have consistently decreased each of the past four years. All the while, Garnett has been healthy and only missed a total of three games during the past six years.
But more than that is the role each player has on his own team. Duncan used to be the MVP of the league, and go-to-guy on his team; now he is really a third option. Manu Ginobili has stepped up his play each of the past two seasons and is now in a starting role. Same can be said for Tony Parker, who’s PPG is approaching 20 from a point guard position. And, oh by the way (in my best Sean Salisbury voice), the Spurs also signed Nick Van Exel and Michael Finley this off-season. Duncan could realistically be looking at a 16 PPG season as the Spurs have the depth and luxury of resting his ankle, back, hip, or “insert new ailment” this season. Meanwhile, further North, Garnett is back to being the only option in Minnesota. Sure Wally World can play, but without Latrell Spreewell and Sam Cassell taking tons of shots, I am betting on Marko Jaric and Trenton Hassell being smart enough to go down low and let KG get it done. And his point total could start to creep up on career highs.
Highest Assist Average:
Kirk Hinrich -1 (-115)
Tony Parker +1 (-115)
Staying with the Spurs, but on the other side of the coin, I must say I love this play. Parker plus-one assist is amazing. I will stand on the aforementioned Spurs’ points: the additions of Van Exel and Finley, emergence of Ginobili, and inside play of Duncan, Nazr Mohammed, and Rasho Nesterovic, all will keep Parker around the six assists-per game he averaged last season; adding one on to that is a nice seven APG, and that equals winning money.
Hinrich, who was exclusively used as point guard his first season in the league, rolled up over six and a half assists per game, 6.8 to be exact. However, the emergence of Chris Duhon and the drafting of Ben Gordon allowed Hinrich to move to the off-guard position and left most of the point guard duties to be delegated elsewhere. This move has been great for his career, and his points scored, but will have a negative effect on his assists. His points went up almost four full points last season and his assists dropped half per game. I wouldn’t expect the same climb in points, but do expect the spike in assists to continue. Pardon me if I sound cynical, but I do not like the inside prospects of Tyson Chandler, Mike Sweetney, Malik Allen or Darius Songalia giving Hinrich easy assists if he gets in trouble on a drive to the basket. Hinrich does look to distribute the ball, so I will look for assist figures in the mid fives, which if Parker keeps his at six, you won’t even need the bonus one; but take it anyways.
Dallas Jackson accepts questions and comments. Simply email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of Doc's NBA picks service.