Our 3 favorite picks, including Nikola Jokic and Jakob Poeltl

The 2022 NBA trade deadline has passed, and what a monster day it has been around the league. The James Harden trade for Ben Simmons was the headliner, but there were huge league trades that rocked more than half of the league’s rosters. And that means shorthanded rosters and prop opportunities as we sort through the consequences today.

We’ll be using the Action Labs Player Prop tool to compare our NBA projections to published props on a variety of sportsbooks. Below I’ve outlined three bets on the props I play, the case for each bet, and the best books for finding odds on these player props.

NBA Players’ Accessories and Picks

Chris Duarte, over 1.5 threes (-105)

Cavaliers vs. Pacers Riders -7.5
Time | TV 7 p.m. ET | League pass
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The Indiana Pacers blew things up.

The Pacers entered the season with a pretty interesting theoretical starting five. Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert, TJ Warren, Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner could have been a starting five that held off almost every team. But these five have never played a minute together. Brogdon has missed half of Indiana’s 56 games. LeVert, Sabonis and Turner have missed another 40 games and Warren has yet to play a minute.

Now core five is no more. Sabonis and LeVert have been traded, Turner and Warren remain on the sidelines indefinitely and Brogdon is questionable on Friday. Wingers Justin Holiday, Jeremy Lamb and Torrey Craig were also traded. That leaves only one Pacer remaining in the top eight in rotation minutes this season: rookie Chris Duarte.

Duarte is poised to see big minutes the rest of the season, and he should see a significant increase in minutes and volume. Duarte has already ranked fourth on the team in PPG at 13.6, and he’s ranked second on the team in 3 seconds per game at 1.7, hitting 36% of his treys. Duarte has multiple 3s in 29 of his 48 NBA games, hitting more than 60% of the time. And now he should get more minutes and shots.

We project Duarte at 2.0 marks, and he’s had multiple 3s in nine of his last 13 games, a 69% success rate. You can play Duarte more aggressively at FanDuel if you prefer, at +330 for three marks or +1140 for four. It’s unclear if we’ll get that kind of volume, as new additions Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield should also get plenty of hits. I’m going to stick with the safest game today and play between over 1.5 and -125.

Nikola Jokic, less than 9.5 assists (-110)

Nuggets vs. Celtics Celtics -6.5
Time | TV 7:30 p.m. ET | NBA Television
best book BetMGM

Nikola Jokic has been the NBA’s best player for the past two seasons. Full stop.

Jokic tops most advanced stat metrics, and we’re now over two-thirds through the season. Even just counting the stats, Jokic has been a monster. He’s at 25.8 points, 13.6 rebounds and 7.9 assists per game, a stat line matched only by the greatest in NBA history. Jokic remains in the thick of the MVP race for a second straight season, and Friday’s news may support his case: Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. are progressing well and are expected to return soon.

For now, it’s still the Jokic show, and that should mean playing Jokic overs. But we’re going the other way in a really interesting game tonight between the Nuggets and the scorching Celtics. Boston has the best defense in the league over the last 15 games. The Celtics are third in the defensive rankings this season and lead the league in the fewest assists allowed per game at just 21.6.

Also, this line is quite high anyway, requiring double-digit subs to reach the top. Jokic has passed under 9.5 assists in six of his last nine games, hitting under 67% of the time, and he’s topped 10 assists in all but one of those games.

It’s always worth looking at potential assists to see how much luck is factored in, so I wondered if Jokic has been unlucky lately. According to NBA Advanced Stats, over these last nine games, Jokic is at 15.1 APG potential, and he’s converted that to 9.3 APG. That’s a 62% conversion rate, and that’s actually higher than his all-season rate of 57%. At this expected rate, Jokic would have 8.6 expected assists per game over his last nine outings, a penny below that line.

We’re projecting him even lower than that at 8.0 assists, making him a 10 out of 10 rated prop with a 20% advantage in our favor. I will play down to -135 and hope Jokic has to do it himself tonight against a miserly defence.

Jakob Poeltl, over 8.5 rebounds (-105)

Spurs vs. Hawks Falcons -7.5
Time | TV 7:30 p.m. ET | League pass
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The Spurs, like the Pacers, quietly blew part of their squad at the deadline. Longtime Spurs guard Derrick White was sent off for salary wrecks and draft picks, while veterans Thad Young, Juancho Hernangomez and Drew Eubanks also departed.

Those last names might not mean much to you, but it tells me Spurs are shorthanded in the paint and Jakob Poeltl is going to see every minute he can manage at the moment. And that should be perfectly fine for a guy quietly having a breakout season.

Poeltl is a very good defender, and he has shown huge growth in his rebound this season. In his first 25 games, Poeltl averaged 4.0 offensive rebounds per game, a robust number, but only 4.2 on the defensive end. In the 20 games since, Poeltl has kept that OREB total steady at 3.9, but he’s increased his DREB per game to 6.2.

That jump in defensive rebounding boosted Poeltl’s overall RPG total from 8.3 to 10.0. It also means he’s topped 8.5 rebounds in 14 of those last 20 games, hitting over 70% of the time.

You can play more aggressively if you wish. Poeltl has double-digit rebounds in 13 of those 20 and we can play +150 on PointsBet, so that’s a big odds jump for just one more board. He hit 12 or more boards seven times (35%) in this streak, and this is available at +375 (implied 21%), but he failed to hit that number in nine in a row.

You can also play Poeltl’s defense, if you wish. He’s had multiple blocks in 12 of his last 14 games with at least one block in every 14 and 2.1 BPG on that streak, and we can play Poeltl to top 1.5 blocks at -115. I’d be happy to take advantage of Poeltl’s rebounds and blocks if your book allows, because he’ll need a few minutes to hit them both.

We project the Austrian to 9.7 rebounds and 2.1 blocks. I will play the rebounds above 8.5 at -130 or just pivot to the rebounds above 9.5 instead.

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