NBA On ESPN Wednesday Night: 3 Underdog Fantasy Picks & Basketball Predictions

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Written By Josh Lander | Last Updated

The final weeks of the NBA season are upon us, making team injury reports even harder to predict than usual. There’s no lack of option with nine games on Wednesday’s slate, but sports bettors should make sure they know who’s playing before placing any bets. I have three strong player props available as straight bets across betting sites or for Underdog NBA picks. Read on to see how I’m betting on D’Angelo Russell, Jarrett Allen, and Paolo Banchero.

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NBA Player Prop Pick: D’Angelo russell Over points + Assists (1 unit)

Underdog NBA Picks: Higher or Lower Than 23.5 Points + Assists

Los Angeles is on the second leg of a back-to-back after dismantling the Raptors on Tuesday. Both Anthony Davis and LeBron James appear on track to suit up after sitting in the fourth quarter in Toronto. LeBron’s presence heavily impacts how we play D’Angelo Russel’s props. In eight games on no rest with James in the lineup, Russell has averaged 20.4 points alongside 6.0 assists. In the three games with The King and on no rest, he’s posted averages of 13.3 PPG and 11.7 APG.

With LeBron fully expected to play on Wednesday night, the points and assists combo is a much safer play. Russell has topped 23 P+A in six of eight games in this context. James may be suiting up in Washington, but I expect Darvin Ham to seek rest for both he and AD after building a comfortable lead. That should spell increased minutes for Rusell, who acts as floor general with LeBron off the floor.

When James sits, D Lo becomes the nominal ball handler. This limits his scoring but puts the ball in his hands more with the primary goal of facilitating. On the season as a whole, Russell increases his scoring by 30% without James. Impressive, sure, but not as eye-popping as the 100% increase in his assists. By combining these two stats into one bet, we should be covered regardless of how many minutes LeBron plays.

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NBA Player Prop Pick: jarrett allen under points + rebounds + Assists (1 unit)

Underdog NBA Picks: Higher or Lower Than 28.5 Points + Rebounds + Assists

Cleveland is one of seven NBA teams playing a second game in two nights on Wednesday. Cavs starting guard Donovan Mitchell missed Tuesday’s blowout win over the Jazz, presumably so he could play the Suns tonight. Mitchell’s presence, combined with that of Allen’s front-court mate, Evan Mobley, should mean a decline in Allen’s stats. With Mobley this season, Allen is posting 27 PRA in 31 minutes a night. Without him, that jumps up to 32 PRA in 32 minutes. Mobley has been hot of late, dropping 17.7 PPG with a 21% usage rate over his last six games since returning from injury.

It’s still unclear whether Mitchell will play against Phoenix. If he does, however, taking an under for Allen’s prop is even more enticing. We’ve only seen three games this season with Allen, Mobley, and Mitchell all playing together. In those three, Allen has gone under 29 PRA each time, averaging 23.3. His rebound chances plummet from nearly 18 per game, with just one of them missing, down to 13.

Phoenix, meanwhile, has formed one of the best interior defenses over the last month. Since the All-Star break, the Suns have the third-best rebound percentage in the league. They’ve limited opposing centers particularly well, limiting them to the fourth-fewest rebounds.

NBA Player Prop Pick: paolo banchero over points + REBounds + ASsisTs (1 unit)

Underdog NBA Picks: Higher or Lower Than 5.5 Assists

This play is heavily predicated on the value we get for going over Banchero’s assists prop in New Orleans. In the teams’ most recent meeting, Paolo put up his second-career triple-double, recording 11 dimes that game. Those came on 19 potential assists, spelling out the Pelicans’ game plan for guarding Banchero: force the ball out of his hands as soon as possible.

The Pelicans are one of the top defenses in the league at limiting points to pick-and-roll ball handlers. Make no mistake either, Paolo is the closest thing the Magic have to a point guard these days. Markelle Fultz had been manning those duties for most of the first half of the season. Over the last 10 games, though, he’s been relegated to the bench, seeing just 17 minutes of action per game. During that time frame, Banchero’s potential assists have jumped by nearly two per contest.

New Orleans has been a top-10 defense for much of the season, but not necessarily when it comes to limiting assists. The Pelicans allow the sixth-fewest points per game to opponents but rank 15th in limiting assists. That’s largely due to the structure of their defense. Head coach Willie Green emphasizes on-ball pressure, forcing the ball out of the hands of the opponent’s best players as often as possible.

Let’s ride with Point Guard Paolo! Best of luck with all your Underdog NBA picks tonight.

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