Joel Embiid and James Harden make for some intriguing ESPN NBA player props Wednesday night. The suddenly scary 76ers try to wallop the Knicks again. Then, two injured teams meet as the Blazers and Suns battle without their star point guards.
Each week throughout the season, TheLines will look at some matchups for the televised slates and try to figure if there are any ESPN NBA player prop bets worth a look. You can also search ESPN NBA player props using our tool below.
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Click on the odds anywhere in this post to bet now. If some prop markets are not yet open for those players, the player tiles will show futures markets. Check back later if this is the case.
New York Knicks at Philadelphia 76ers
These two teams met just a few days back, in the second game of the Joel Embiid/James Harden partnership. The Sixers won 125-109 in New York as the two superstars combined for 66 points.
The early returns on the duo look slightly decent. Through 113 possessions together, they’ve logged a +43.1 per 100 possessions differential, and they have shot a combined 59 free throws. The Knicks had absolutely nothing for Embiid in that game, sending him to the line 27 times.
Philly’s new starting five — Harden, Embiid, Tobias Harris, Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle — does look like it contains a pretty scary mix of shooting and defense. The Knicks will have their work cut out for them as sizable underdogs needing some adjustments.
Mitchell Robinson And Evan Fournier Props
Already, Knicks players are in a less than ideal spot to put up big number facing a low-paced opponent that plays good defense. But one player in an especially poor spot is Mitchell Robinson.
The talented young big man drew Joel Embiid duty and his “defense” consisted of mostly hacking desperately. Robinson is a good defender in some ways, but he isn’t strong in post defense. He has improved his foul rate from atrocious to a more middling number but still had no answer for Embiid, as noted. He fouled out in just 17 minutes, posting six points and four rebounds.
Unfortunately, the market will likely take this recent poor showing into account when releasing Robinson’s props. But, be ready if they open near his normal numbers.
Evan Fournier actually had a nice game last time these teams met, but he also rates to struggle here. He relies heavily on bombing away from deep, with a whopping 60% of his field goal attempts coming from long range. He got off 11 3s last time but that looks like an anomaly as the Sixers defend the 3-point arc very well.
See if the market overvalues his recent good game.
Joel Embiid And James Harden Props
As mentioned, Embiid figures to have a field day if the Knicks don’t change something. Robinson’s backup, Jericho Sims, didn’t fare any better as he also fouled out in 18 minutes.
One would think New York will drastically change its coverage plan here. Maybe they won’t — Tom Thibodeau is notoriously married to his system — but this seems pretty untenable.
If the Knicks do decide to throw some more bodies and help to try to confuse Embiid or make him more of a passer, Harden figures to benefit the most. The Knicks already struggle to defend the 3-point line, allowing the third-most attempts in the league per 100 possessions, according to Cleaning The Glass.
If we had to guess, we’d think he’s in line for a bigger game than Embiid, but it all depends on the Knicks’ plan here.
Portland Trail Blazers at Phoenix Suns
Another week, another Portland Trail Blazers prime time game we must endure.
Both of these teams have major injury concerns. As we highlighted here, the Blazers went into the end of last week a ghastly -9.5 per 100 possessions in minutes that featured Anfernee Simons but none of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum or Jusuf Nurkic.
All those players obviously remain unavailable and that number will only have worsened after blowout losses to Golden State and Denver. There just aren’t enough NBA bodies left at this point for Portland and the writing is on the wall for the rest of the reason (it says “tanking”).
However, Phoenix has some low-key issues as well without Chris Paul. Lineups featuring Devin Booker but not Paul are a mere +2.4 per 100, according to Cleaning The Glass. Both the offense and defense get notably worse. That’s the second straight year the team has been worse than its normal numbers in this situation, so it seems unlikely to be a result of random chance.
Anfernee Simons Props
Portland is just a very difficult team to handicap in the props markets right now because we can’t know for certain just how bad they are until we get more of a sample size. There’s a wider than normal distribution of potential outcomes because every game could turn into a 30-point blowout. That’s especially true in prime time because they’re matched with stronger opposition on average.
Ultimately, we have to expect more of a lean to the left tail (unders) in that distribution because of these potential blowouts. There will be games like the past two where the starters don’t crack 30 minutes.
The biggest numbers will be attached to Anfernee Simons, so that’s the first place to look for an under. But, again, it’s difficult to say here because the loss of Chris Paul will harm the elite Phoenix defense.
Devin Booker And Deandre Ayton Props
The same principle that can drag Portland players to their unders can do the same to Phoenix players. Remember, the Suns are favorites here, so they’ll win by 20 or so pretty frequently.
Portland does have a very, very bad defense — it’s likely the league’s worst now — so there is that, though.
Devin Booker will be the natural look for many bettors here given he’s now the clear centerpiece of Phoenix’s offense. He’s certainly capable of a huge game against any team, especially one that can’t guard the door. But, the left tail can’t be discounted either.
A more interesting play may be rebounding and points overs for Deandre Ayton. The sometimes overlooked center rebounds at above average rates and scores very efficiently when given the chance.
Looking over Portland’s roster, there’s just basically no big man left who figures to offer any resistance. The Blazers were below average defending the rim both in terms of allowing attempts and conversions, and that was when they had a center with a pulse. Good luck, Trendon Watford and Greg Brown.