Best Player Prop Bets for NBA Opening Night

By in NBA on
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October is the best sports betting month of the year, isn’t it? Not only are the MLB playoffs and football season in full swing, but the NHL and NBA seasons are now underway. We’ve also got high-quality soccer action taking place just about every single day in every corner of the globe. As a sports bettor, you can’t ask for much more.

On Tuesday, all eyes will be on the hardwood when the NBA’s regular season officially tips off. The defending champion Bucks will look to defend their home floor against a Brooklyn Nets team favored to dethrone Milwaukee atop the Eastern Conference standings. Later in the night, the new-look Los Angeles Lakers will host the resurgent Golden State Warriors in a Pacific Division showdown.

There are plenty of ways to attack the NBA’s opening night as a bettor. One particularly fun way to get in on the action is to check out the variety of player-specific props being offered at a host of NBA betting sites.

How many points will LeBron James score? Will James Harden post a triple-double? Will Steph Curry knock down at least six three-pointers? The opportunities are virtually endless.

The following are the best NBA player props for opening night.

Giannis Antetokounmpo Total Points

  • Over 29.5 points (-115)
  • Under 29.5 points (-115)

Giannis Antetokounmpo has earned his fair share of criticism over the course of his career, but he silenced many of his doubters over the summer when he led the Bucks to their first championship in 50 years. The Greek Freak certainly isn’t as talented as a scorer as someone like Kevin Durant, but his size, length, and athleticism make him an impossible player to defend.

Antetokounmpo averaged a career-high 29.5 points per game two years ago on his way to his second consecutive MVP award. That scoring average declined a bit last season to 28.1, but that was still good enough to rank fifth in the league. The Bucks have been such a dominant regular-season team over the past few years that they haven’t even needed Antetokounmpo to play a full allotment of minutes every night. In 2019-20, for example, he logged just 30.4 minutes per game. That number jumped to 33 per game last year as the Bucks’ regular-season performance slid.

Of course, it was a different story in the playoffs. With just about every game being a must-win scenario, Mike Budenholzer was happy to run his star into the ground. Giannis averaged 40 minutes per game in the second-round seven-game thriller against Brooklyn before logging 39.8 minutes per game on a bad knee in the Finals against Phoenix. Antetokounmpo averaged 31.9 points per game in those seven postseason games against the Nets. In three regular-season meetings with Brooklyn, he averaged a whopping 39.7 points per game.

Fiserv Forum should be rocking in this one with the Nets back in town and the Bucks hungry to get their season started on the right foot. Brooklyn is a slight 1.5-point favorite on the road here, so oddsmakers are expecting a closely contested game. That should bode well for Antetokounmpo’s chances of logging a full game’s worth of playing time, which can’t be said every night.

I think all signs point to the over being the better bet here. The Nets were one of the worst defensive teams in basketball a season ago, and Antetokounmpo had no issue destroying them every single time they squared off. You can argue that the over/under of 29.5 points is way too low for Giannis in this one.

Antetokounmpo’s Total Points –Over 29.5 points (-115)

LeBron James Total Points

  • Over 24.5 points (-115)
  • Under 24.5 points (-115)

LeBron James looked like a mortal for the first time last season. The King missed most of the second half of the season after suffering a badly sprained ankle in February. He wasn’t fully healthy by the time the playoffs rolled around, which was certainly a huge factor in the Lakers’ quick five-game expulsion in the first round at the hands of the Suns.

LeBron has had a full offseason to get back to full strength, and he looked no worse for the wear in limited preseason action. The Lakers spent the offseason compiling a roster full of aging veterans in an attempt to keep their championship window pried open. Whether all of the parts can gel together to form a legitimate title contender remains to be seen. James will also turn 37 in December, so the clock is ticking.

LeBron averaged exactly 25 points per game in 45 regular-season outings for LA last season, marking the 17th consecutive season in which he has averaged at least 25 a night. James was effectively the Lakers’ starting point guard last season, but he may be playing a different role given the makeup of the rest of the roster. With Russell Westbrook and Rajon Rondo now in the fold and capable of handling the ball, LeBron may look to take on a heavier scoring load than he has over the past couple of years.

The Warriors were quietly a top-five defensive team last season, and it will be interesting to see how Steve Kerr decides to try and match up with all of LA’s weaponry. Draymond Green is probably the best bet for the Warriors when it comes to slowing down James, who averaged just 20 points per game in three regular-season outings against Golden State a season ago.

Between James, Westbrook, and Anthony Davis, the Lakers certainly have no shortage of offensive options. There’s only one basketball, and all three players have averaged well north of 20 points per game over the course of their respective careers. Trying to predict which member of the newly-minted “Big Three” will lead the team in scoring on a nightly basis is likely a fool’s errand. Still, it’s worth noting that LeBron’s point total over/under (24.5) is the highest of the three on opening night. Davis is listed at 22.5, while Russ is at 20.5.

Given the personnel on the roster, it’s easy to imagine LeBron’s scoring output starting to decline this season. This could easily be the first season since his rookie campaign in which he finishes with a scoring average south of 25 points per game. I think betting the under on 24.5 points for James on opening night is the best option here.

James’ Total Points –Under 24.5 points (-115)

Will James Harden Post a Triple-Double?

  • Yes (+550)
  • No (-1100)

Kyrie Irving will be sidelined indefinitely as a result of his anti-vax status. While this does cast plenty of doubt on whether the Nets will ultimately be able to challenge the Bucks for Eastern Conference supremacy, Kyrie’s absence does clear some things up with regard to Brooklyn’s offensive pecking order.

The Nets were one of many teams beset by injuries a season ago. After James Harden came over via trade from Houston in January, Brooklyn’s own “Big Three” played just 13 games together. For the most part, Harden played the role of distributor while KD and Kyrie shouldered most of the scoring load.

As long as Irving is out, we know Harden and Durant will soak up most of the usage in this offense. Harden is one of the most gifted individual scorers in the game, but his ability as a playmaker has long been underrated. The Beard posted a whopping 12 triple-doubles in just 36 regular-season games with the Nets, which tied the team’s single-season franchise record. With a full 82-game season on the horizon, that old record may not last much longer.

Harden wasn’t at full strength against the Bucks in the playoffs as a result of a lingering hamstring issue. In the lone regular-season game he played against Milwaukee a season ago, the 32-year-old finished with 34 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists. It’s easy to expect Harden to get there with points and assists, but will he crash the glass enough to post a triple-double on opening night? It’s certainly possible. He averaged 8.5 rebounds per game after arriving in Brooklyn, which was well north of his career average of just 5.5.

Given the odds, I think the upside on “yes” is worth a gamble. We’re likely to get a close game here, and we know Nash will have no qualms with running Harden out there for a full rotation. Harden has been one of the most durable players in the sport over the years. Take a low-dollar flier on Harden to post a triple-double at the current +550 odds.

Will Harden Post a Triple-Double? –Yes (+550)

Steph Curry Total Three-Pointers

  • Over 5.5 three-pointers made (-130)
  • Under 5.5 three-pointers made (-105)

Stephen Curry was up to his usual tricks last season. The two-time league MVP averaged a career-best 32 points per game while trying to lift the Warriors into the playoffs. Golden State ultimately fell short, but expectations are high once again entering the new season. With Klay Thompson expected back soon, this will be the team’s first fully healthy roster since the beginning of the 2018-19 campaign.

Once Thompson returns, it’s safe to assume that Curry’s scoring average will dip. However, Thompson won’t be ready for opening night. So, for now, we can expect Curry to continue to serve as the usage leader for this team by a wide margin. Steph hoisted a career-high 21.7 shot attempts per game last season, including a whopping 12.7 three-point attempts per game. Curry averaged 5.3 makes from long range on a nightly basis, which was also the best of his career.

Curry Is Shooting 43.3 Percent From Downtown Since Debuting in the NBA Back in 2009

It’s really just a matter of volume. We have never seen a player at this level shoot three-pointers with this combination of accuracy and volume, which is one of the reasons this guy will be a no-brainer Hall-of-Famer in a few years. Curry’s 34.7 percent usage rate last season was the second-highest in the sport, trailing only Luka Doncic’s mark of 35.9 percent.

The Lakers were the best defensive team in basketball last year, but I expect them to regress in that regard given the age of their newfangled roster. Curry was held to just 23 points per game in three regular-season meetings with LA while knocking down just three three-pointers per appearance. However, Curry did go off for 37 points, including six triples, in the play-in tournament loss to the Lakers back in May.

It’s a little surprising to see the juice (-130) so heavily favoring the over on 5.5 threes for Steph on opening night. He’s as likely as anyone to pile them up, but this is not an easy matchup. The Lakers held their opponents to a three-point percentage of just 35.4 percent last year, which was the fifth-best mark in the Association. Their opponents also attempted just 32.3 per game, which was fourth-fewest.

I like the under here, especially given the way the odds are shaking out. The Lakers won’t put the clamps on Curry, but making at least six three-pointers in a game is no easy task.

Curry’s Total 3-Pointers –Under 5.5 Made (-105)
Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...

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