NBA Prop Betting Guide – How to Bet NBA Player Props & Prop Betting Strategies

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Stuart StalterJune 1, 2022, 09:12 AM

The NBA has cemented a firm reputation for being a player’s league. Individual decisions to form super teams and force trades take the league’s power balance away from owners. Players hold the power to dominate on the court via the unique ability to play offense and defense at all times in a game where only 10 players participate at once. 

Individual players dominate the NBA gambling world as well! You shouldn’t wager on Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game to be topped; it won’t happen. However, there are plenty of player props that can be profitable. When bet correctly, they lead to huge profits. 

What Is a Player Prop Bet?

A player prop bet is a wager on a specific player’s statistics or a particular outcome. Player props can be wagered on as part of a season-long bet or on a game-by-game basis. 

Most Popular NBA Player Prop Bets

Points Scored

The most common player prop bet is how many points a player will score. Scoring as prop standby makes sense from a fan and league perspective. Rapid scoring, particularly from behind the 3-point line, has spearheaded the league’s astronomical growth in the last decade. There’s nothing easier for gamblers and free spectators alike to understand than how many times the ball goes in the hoop. For most, there’s also nothing more exciting.

Sportsbooks monetize offensive mastery by placing an over/under on how many points a player will score. For instance, LeBron James might have a game line of over/under 29.5 points. Bettors select whether to wager on James scoring a higher point total during the game than the number, or lower.

If James scores at least 30 points, the over wins. If the opposing defense contains him to under 30, the under wins. Scoring a partial point in basketball isn’t possible, hence the standard .5 to avoid pushes (a tie where the bet gets returned with no loss or profit).

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Rebounds

Similar to points, this prop is all about how many rebounds a player will get. Typically, this is going to be combined offensive and defensive rebounds for the player in question. As is the case with most props, there will be an over/under number that you are betting against.

Assists

You might be catching onto a trend here of player props consisting of the major statistical categories. Player assists are another incredibly popular prop, especially for point guards. Just like the previous props, there will be an over/under number to bet against.

Blocks

Blocks can be a tricky prop to bet on unless you’re betting on a center. Typically, the center is the position that will get the most blocks. In today’s game of positionless basketball forwards can also be thrown into this category. However, if you are betting on a guard to hit the over in blocks, it could be a heavy gamble.

Steals

If you don’t bet on a guard for blocks … what do you bet on them for? Steals of course! This prop is going to be betting against an over/under for a player to get steals during a game. Just as a guard isn’t the best for this bet for blocks, a forward or center is not the best bet for steals.

Combination

There are even props that will COMBINE the aforementioned props. Typically, it will be a bet like x player over/under 26.5 points/assists/rebounds. Look at the example below for some more context.

DraftKings screen shot detailing an NBA Player Prop.
via DraftKings

Are NBA Prop Bets Valuable?

NBA prop betting lends itself to a plethora of profitable perks. Perhaps the biggest is the ability to only hone in one individual performance. Team competitiveness plays a minuscule role in prop bets paying off. In fact, star scorers often look to “stat pad” during blowouts by taking cheap opportunities to play hard at times when the winning side is relaxed.

The final stat line reacts with superficial strength in numbers. Prop bets frequently finish before the game is over, giving players a potentially easy way to invest in a game without watching all of it. At the same time, a prop bet adds a vested interest and emotional investment to dull contests and season storylines that both morph into grinds.

Prop Bet Strategies for Good Picks

Forecasting scoring calls for more than just looking at an NBA player’s points per game total to surmise if he’ll rain buckets on a given night.

Defense disappears at a magician’s rate in today’s NBA with no hand checking, reduced contact and players who are overall faster with the ball — and rangier at shooting it than ever — but bettors shouldn’t neglect the likely defensive assignment for guarding a player.

For instance, Patrick Beverley’s mouth grabs more headlines than his mundane box score numbers. However, the pestering perimeter defense that earned him three All-Defensive selections speaks equally-loud volumes.  

Other notable players who apprehend scoring rampages include Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard,  Warriors forward Draymond Green, 76ers center Joel Embiid (the potential MVP), Jazz center Rudy Gobert (the reigning Defensive Player of the Year) and Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr.

AP Photos

Team defensive rankings are easy to find and should be checked as well to detect deceptively difficult situations. For instance, Brooklyn ranks in the bottom 10 in points allowed per game, yet approaches the top five in defensive 3-point percentage. Betting on a 3-point specialist tempts surface-level bettors, but these stats and Brooklyn’s roster build reveal that the team’s vulnerability camps in the paint. Designs for close 2-pointers devise the optimal game strategy.

Prop betting works well in pairs as well. For instance, a bettor feeling confident about the Nets’ offensive output could combine taking the over on Kevin Durant’s points scored with Kyrie Irving’s assist numbers. The primary ball-handler usually dishes out the most assists, so a player scoring at will capitalizes on that person’s passes, and a hot passer finds the leading scorer in advantageous spots more often, raising both numbers.

Similarly, somebody has to grab missed shots, so bettors projecting an offensive off-night need to browse rebounding prop bets. Centers and power forwards generally benefit the most from that scenario since they theoretically play closest to the basket. 

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Player Prop Strategies That Drop the Betting Ball

Tradition holds true in certain time-tested pockets of pro basketball. Modern focus on “position-less basketball” breaks many molds. Bettors should hold a fundamental understanding of the game, but can’t cling to classic cliches too much. The game itself flipped from inside-out to outside-in.

Numerous centers extend beyond the 3-point line nowadays. Arguably the NBA’s best, Nikola Jokic captured the 3-Point Contest victory, a feat historically reserved for guards and marksman stretch forwards. Talented bigs like Jokic, Domantas Sabonis and Giannis Antetokounmpo undertake decision-making abilities as oversized floor generals as well.

Recent developments caution bettors against presuming that the under on 3-point field goals for many bigs, or even assists for elite ones are safe.  

On the opposite side of the size spectrum, more coaches deploy the Showtime Lakers strategy of allowing speedy, precision-passing guards to grab rebounds to initiate a full-court fast break larger paint defenders can’t keep up with.

A friendlier, more lucrative league allows this maneuver to flourish. The trend counteracts conventional wisdom telling bettors to lowball guard rebounds. Russell Westbrook achieved three triple-double seasons in the last five years. Three other guards average a minimum of eight in all three points, rebounds and assist categories right now.

Another fad in the new NBA that might prevent new money from reaching bad bettors’ bank accounts is load management. Five-time NBA champion Gregg Popovich popularized resting team leaders for playoff freshness through sudden nights off and minutes restrictions during the regular season.

Fans jeer at the inferior product they paid to watch, but many front offices endorse the efficiency nowadays. Don’t become overdependent on stars with high-paid contracts signed by high-mileage bodies. Even the legendary LeBron James has missed at least eight games in four out of the last five full NBA seasons.

With a little help from OddsJam, the NBA lives up to its moniker “anything is possible” when bettors know who and what to look for in prop bets. 

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