NBA: Five essential player prop strategies

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Five essential NBA player prop strategies

As betting becomes more and more popular, we’re seeing a huge increase in the number of people who want to bet specifically on player props. There’s something about rooting for individual players that is appealing to a lot of fans, and that’s especially true of the NBA. A lot of that has to do with the fact that you’re often getting national television games that feature some of the league’s superstars. And sportsbooks also happen to offer a lot of bet boosts on those stars, making it easy for props to catch the attention of bettors.

 

Last year, I did a daily NBA player props column for VSiN, highlighting some of my favorite props of the day. I’ll be doing that again from Monday to Friday for the upcoming season, so you’ll often be able to take 2-3 of my picks — and I’ll even do some player spotlights in which I’ll provide an in-depth dive on a player’s matchup that I absolutely love. I’ll also see if there are any boosts from DraftKings Sportsbook that I’d personally suggest playing. However, I know that part of the fun with betting is doing it yourself. With that in mind, I want to give you some tips on how to go about player prop betting in a smart way.

Learn from the game spread/total

The first thing I do when beginning to look for props is look at the spreads and totals for the day’s slate. If a game has an extremely high total, you’re likely going to have a chance to cash some Overs on points and assists. And if one of the teams is a big favorite in that game, you might want to lean toward choosing players from that roster. Similarly, if a game has a low total, you can probably find some good Under plays on the underdog’s side. Or you might be able to look to the blocks and steals markets, as lower totals in the NBA are usually reserved for teams that play good defense or sloppy offense. The one caveat there is that a low total could simply mean that one, or both, of the teams in that game play at a slow pace. Pace of play is one of the many things that are available on the official NBA stats page.

Do your research

Not only is pace available on the NBA’s stats pages, but their advanced stats are the ultimate resource for sports bettors. It’s amazing the type of information they provide for free and learning how to mine those pages can be crucial when trying to become a profitable player prop bettor. In addition to looking for the spreads and totals on a specific game, I regularly take note of where teams stand in certain advanced stat categories.

For example, the Dallas Mavericks had the lowest rebound percentage in basketball last year. Knowing that helps you look to Dallas’ opponents as potential Over bets on their rebound totals. The Houston Rockets also happened to have the highest turnover ratio in basketball last year. That generally means that backing the Over on steals for one of the players on the opposing team can be a smart bet. But the overall theme here is that there’s a lot out there that can help you. Don’t go into this blindly.

We also have a VSiN Daily Prop Analyzer that lists all the players that are playing on any given evening. It tells you what their DraftKings Sportsbook prop totals are for points, rebounds, assists and threes made. It also lets you know how they have performed with those totals throughout the season, and it even allows you to sort by which players have been most profitable. So, that’s another thing you’ll want to regularly use when betting props.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box

Sometimes a player’s statistics don’t tell the whole story. For example, a point guard might set their teammates up for great opportunities, but those guys might not be cashing in on them. That could mean that the passer’s assist numbers will be a little down. But I like to find teams that are playing against weak defensive opponents and then look to the NBA’s “potential assists” numbers.

I think this is an even better way of approaching assist props than by looking at assists per game. It’s just so important to be betting on players who consistently put their teammates in good positions to score. When combining potential assists with a weak opponent and a game in which both teams play at a fast pace, you’re going to have a good chance of hitting your assist Overs. This is one of my favorite angles on the player props market. But there are also other things you do.

For example, a known marksman from deep might be in the middle of a cold stretch shooting the ball, which leads to lower three-point totals than usual. But looking at older percentages will tell you that those stretches are bound to end, which could lead to favorable prices and profitable outcomes. Looking at one-on-one matchups within a game can also be helpful. If a team has a bad defensive center taking on the assignment of guarding Nikola Jokic, what does that mean? Sure, he’s the best passing big man in the NBA — and arguably the best passing big ever — but he might look to score more than usual in that situation. These are things you want to be thinking about often. Don’t just look at numbers. Try to think about how a game will play out.

Be somewhat active on X (formerly Twitter)

Nobody needs to sit there refreshing social media nonstop, but you’re going to want to follow some of the league’s bigger newsbreakers and check X in the hours leading up to the daily NBA slate. While the NBA is trying to cut down on the “load management” problem, there’s simply no way around it. Teams are not going to overlook the benefits of giving their players some extra rest, which means key players will still be rested here and there. And when they are, you’re going to want to pounce on their teammates to step in and replace some of their numbers.  

Don’t go overboard

As with anything, you want to be careful when betting player props. There are so many options available on any given night, so you might be tempted to spray the board. But try and limit yourself to the few that you’re very confident in and use a consistent unit size throughout — unless you feel like somebody being out gives you a bigger edge than usual. Also, I’d personally suggest staying away from parlays with more than two or three legs. I know people post tickets to X in which they’re turning $5 into $50,000 and whatnot, but those are fool’s gold. They’re simply so hard to hit. You’re better off being consistent and earning small profits over an extended period of time.