Best NBA Player Props for Saturday's Slate: Fun Guy Saturday
Today’s NBA slate is of the lighter variety, with an appetizer-sized five games on the schedule tonight. With it being a Saturday in late March, a lot of today’s basketball-watching focus will be on the college game. But for the die-hard NBA fans like myself, there is plenty of action to be had in the big leagues today. Before you place your bets on sides and totals, be sure to check out our full game previews with picks and analysis.
I’m looking to build on what’s been a nice week so far – I’m currently sitting at 12-5. To build on that today, my two best bets focus on two stud players to do what they do best.
Kawhi Leonard over 25.5 points (-110)
Line available at publishing. Playable up to over 26.5 points.
Leonard is in the midst of another All-NBA season, which is ho-hum by his standards. Averaging 26.2 points per game on an efficient 57% effective field goal percentage, he’s eclipsed this total in 19 of his 34 games.
His production dipped a bit on his recent road trip, only averaging 21.7 points per game over the last three games. However, the Clippers return home on Saturday, and the Fun Guy has shined this season at the Staples Center. Leonard is averaging 28.6 points per game in Los Angeles, and has had at least 26 points in 12 of his 14 games. His already stellar shooting stats are even better on his home floor as well.
And to boot, he gets the Hornets tonight. Charlotte ranks 21st in defensive efficiency and plays relatively fast, ranking twelfth in pace. But where they have struggled the most is defending forwards. Allowing the most average points to opposing forwards, and allowing the second-highest field goal percentage to the positions, Kawhi is in a prime spot to exploit the matchup tonight.
The Clippers are in the midst of a mediocre stretch of basketball, losing eight of their last thirteen games. Playing a home game for the first time in nine days, I like them to lean on their best player to get back on track. I have Leonard projected at 29 points in this matchup.
Trae Young over 8.5 assists (-115)
Line available at publishing. Playable to -130.
The third-year Hawks point guard is proving he is once again one of the best distributors in the NBA. Averaging a career high 9.4 assists per game, he currently ranks third in the NBA, ahead of the likes of Luka Doncic and Chris Paul. He’s had at least nine dimes 22 times in his 39 games.
It’s interesting to see this line priced one full assist below his average. Yes, the Lakers are a very stout defensive team, ranking in the top three of many team defensive metrics. But they do allow their opponents the twelfth most assists per game (25).
Versus teams in the top half of defensive efficiency, Young’s assist production actually improves. He averages a flat ten assists per game, and has had 9+ in ten of sixteen games. In the same span, his scoring production has dipped to 23.3 points per game (versus his season average of 25.9). In the Hawks’ earlier matchup with the Lakers, Young dished out 16 assists.
In a tough matchup, I like Young to continue to look to get his teammates involved. I have the point guard projected at 9.5 assists in this matinee showdown.