• Andy

NBA Best Bets Friday 10/21

Our first NBA Friday is upon us, and the slate is looking rather large. I have two plays that I put out early as soon as the lines dropped on Thursday, so if you follow me on Twitter @AndyHHSports you were able to catch them before the lines moved. There are some other plays I am eyeing now too, keeping in mind that there are some interesting trends to look at just three days in.

To start, the public are an impressive 3-12 on the NBA to start the season. Yes, the Pelicans are backed by the public tonight, but the Pelicans are also backed by our good friend Zion Williamson and company. I'll dive into that more below. I have seen great success on props to start the season, going 5-1 on Tuesday and Wednesday, while I went 1-1 on totals. The big takeaway here is how hard it is to bet on sides in the NBA. We saw Orlando crumble away after a hot start against Detroit, and the Timberwolves choke a large lead to the Thunder to miss what was a massive spread Wednesday night.

I will continue to take sides with caution whether it is this week or a week in April. But that is not the point. I encourage all of you to take hard looks at the NBA props markets moving forwards and use sites like basketball-reference.com and statmuse.com to check into how players perform historically and against certain teams and matchups. However, you could just say meh, get to the point Andy, because that is exactly what I will be doing every day in these write-ups! So let's jump on in:

New Orleans Pelicans -5.5 (-110) vs Charlotte Hornets - 1.5 Units

Zion Williamson over 24.5 Points (-120) - 1.5 Units

As I said before, these plays were put out on Twitter last night after work and before bed. The Pelicans line is up to -7 as I write this article, but Zion's point total is still around 24.5 points with a more juiced over. There are a number of reasons I put a good-sized wager on both of these, and it is not just about LaMelo Ball likely being out tonight in the Hornets' home opener.

The Charlotte Hornets were one of the worst teams defending the interior last season. I watched it first hand as a Charlotte native, and the frustrations never ceased to end with Mason Plumlee and PJ Washington just letting big men have their way inside the paint. Plumlee seems to be sharing his time now with Nick Richards and Mark Williams, but only Williams offers a real defensive threat which I am not yet worried about with his inexperience in the league.

When you leave such an easy opening for teams to come in the paint as they please, guys like Jonas Valanciunas and Zion Williamson will thrive. We saw it in Brooklyn on Wednesday night, where Jonas did whatever he pleased against Nicolas Claxton and nobody on the Nets wanted to help with defending. My take on that game was that Willie Green would use the Celtics-Nets tape of the Celtics' 4-0 sweep against Brooklyn in April, and he will have even more tape to show the weaknesses inside that Charlotte will give Zion and Jonas tonight.

Finally, I like the Pelicans here because of the dominant offense, the number of guys they have who can handle the basketball, and the Hornets' leaky defense. I know the Hornets held the Spurs to 102 on Opening Night, but the Spurs also do not have many guys to help out Keldon and Vassell on offense. Charlotte ranked in the bottom 20% of the NBA in defensive efficiency last season, and at many times last season, it felt like Hayward and McDaniels were the only two players that tried on defense. That defensive effort will change with Steve Clifford returning, but it will take time to get these guys disciplined defensively instead of just sprinting up and down the court with an insanely quick offense.

USA Today

Jalen Brunson over 5.5 Assists (-160) - 1 Unit

Jalen Brunson over 8.5 Assists (+320) - 0.5 Units

I know that this price may be a bit expensive for some. With the line about to shift to 6.5 assists, I wanted to jump in as the price of juice per assist seems worth it to me on this one right off the bat. If you are getting the new number on less juice, I am still a fan of the play. Brunson will play 35 minutes or more tonight in the Knicks' home opener against the Pistons, and it has been made clear right away that Coach Thibodeau trusts the offense in Brunson's hands.

Brunson racked up 9 assists against a stellar Grizzlies defense on Wednesday night and will have a much easier time facilitating the offense against a young Detroit core that is inferior on defense. The only other players that were notable in assists production for the Knicks were Julius Randle with 6, and Isaiah Hartenstein at center with 4. I expect Brunson to have his way against the Pistons, and have thrown a half-unit flier on him to hit 9 assists or more tonight as well. Brunson was brought in to have the keys to the offense after the Knicks struggled to have point guards who can create, and that is just what he will do!

Finally, Brunson's numbers in Dallas need to be taken with a grain of salt as he was used to help give some creativity on offense that wasn't just Luka running the Luka Show. Brunson did average almost 5 assists a game last year in just over 30 minutes per game, so being the primary ball handler on the Knicks in 5 to 6 more minutes per game makes me feel great with this assist number against any team, not just the Pistons. For what it's worth, Brunson had 5 assists against the Pistons in just 20 minutes of preseason action two weeks ago as well. We saw how strong he looked against Memphis, so let Jalen eat tonight against Cade and the boys.

I wish there were Isaiah Hartenstein props on the market too, as he showed out in a big way with his well-deserved minutes for the Knicks. However, we will wait and be on the lookout for our guy to get his due recognition as the season goes along.

H/T Corey Sipkin for the photo.

Paolo Banchero over 2.5 Assists (-110) - 1 Unit

Paolo's performance on Wednesday night was something we have not seen since LeBron James' debut back in 2003. It was very clear from the beginning of the game that Paolo would be running some point and that he was bringing the ball up the floor a fair amount. This is not going to change, and as a result, I think this number is way too low.

Banchero only averaged just over 3 assists at Duke, but that is not really the measuring stick we should be using here. Cole Anthony is a game time decision for Friday's game, but it does not change the fact that the offense will continue to run through Paolo as they let their new cornerstone of the franchise do his thing. As the season goes along, we will not get props this low for Paolo as he continues to grow his game as a rookie. Let's take advantage of that now and enjoy a future star in the making facilitate the offense in his new home of Orlando.


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