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NBA Player Prop Picks (4/29/23)
The sole game for the Saturday slate belongs to the Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets, arguably the most anticipated second-round matchup in the playoffs this season. Phoenix and Denver both took care of their respective opponents in five games in the opening round; they asserted their dominance behind offensive firepower. Check out three of the best player props and an in-depth analysis of them below!
Kevin Durant o27.5 Points (-130)
The past two games have been Kevin Durant’s “masterclasses,” as he has eclipsed 30 points in both games on over 50% shooting from the field and 70% shooting from deep. He has also dished out an average of five assists and pulled down roughly eight boards during that stretch.
In theory, due to his efficiency and status as a star, he should almost always eclipse 30 points; he is one of the most efficient perimeter players in the league and should easily be shooting 20-25 games. However, that is just the problem. Durant scarcely shoots more than 21 or 22 times in a game.
Still, there is a lot to like with this prop, as he has hit it in three consecutive games. Further, he is playing a boatload of minutes, playing at least 44 minutes in four of the five games in the first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Nuggets play at roughly the same pace as the Clippers, so Durant should get similar looks in transition and the half-court. Lastly, Durant has eclipsed this line in both games against the Nuggets this season, despite playing substantially fewer minutes in one of them.
Chris Paul o1.5 Steals (-125)
Despite nearing his 38th birthday, CP3 is still not only an effective starting point guard but a menace on the defensive end of the floor. This season, Paul has averaged 1.5 steals per game, which is not quite as high as his career average of 2.1, but still enough to force opposing guards to think twice every time they cross over and change direction.
In the first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers, a team that turned the ball over at an eerily similar rate to Denver this year, Chris Paul logged at least two steals in four of the five games, including securing three in two of those outings.
It’s a different matchup now, guarding Jamal Murray instead of Russell Westbrook, Terance Mann, or Bones Hyland, but Murray’s usage rate of roughly 30% should open the door to plenty of mistakes. Even though Murray has handled the substantial increase in usage (from 26% to 30%) well, expect CP3 to snag a few steals.
Nikola Jokic o25.5 Points (-120)
Nikola Jokic’s basketball IQ will be studied long after he is done playing, but what makes him even more special is how he makes his teammates better, especially when the lights shine the brightest. Jokic took only 12 shots in Game 1 against Minnesota, opting to get his teammates involved more, so they could find a nice rhythm and get the playoff jitters out. It worked to perfection, as Denver moved on in five games and is in a good position to get to the Western Conference Finals.
What is interesting about Jokic is the variance between his outings; he truly lets the game come to him and does not worry about reaching a certain number of points, assists, or rebounds. It is all about giving his team the best chance to win.
With all that being said, Jokic was an absolute monster in the last two games of the series against the Minnesota Timberwolves, scoring 43 and 28 points in Games 4 and 5, respectively. In those games, Jokic shot a combined 55 times from the field, which is far above his usual FGA average.
The other major component to consider here is the likelihood that Jokic eclipses 40 minutes of play, which will likely land him between seven and ten more minutes than his season average. Those extra opportunities for putbacks off of missed shots and deep post touches should get him to 26 or more points, even if he does consistently look for his teammates throughout the game.