Now that March Madness has begun once more, the Association has put together a modest four-game schedule so that college students can enjoy themselves. There may be a need for more professional sports betting options, but the NBA’s extensive menu of player props, including McCollum, makes up for that.
These are my top NBA picks and predictions for Saturday, March 23.
Best NBA player of the day odds
The odds widgets presented below reflect the best odds currently offered by legal sportsbooks for each betting market.
Grin and Barrett
The New York Knicks, fresh off a loss in South Beach on Wednesday, continue their Sunshine State swing with tonight’s matchup against the Orlando Magic.
Tonight’s 228.5 points is above New York’s recent Over/Under range, partly because of the Knicks’ two poor defensive performances. In response, New York has launched a counterattack. R.J. Barrett, a forward, is responsible for a large portion of those points.
Barrett has been on an absolute tear this month, culminating in last night’s 26 point, 8-for-13 shooting performance in Miami. The 6-foot-6 Duke alum has scored at least 21.5 points in seven of his last nine games, and he’ll be up against a scoring prop of 18.5 (Over -120) in Orlando.
My projections have the Canadian scoring 20.7 points against a Magic defense, ranked 18th in defensive rating through the first twenty days of the month. Orlando is one of a small number of NBA teams that consistently gives up more than 100 points per home game.
In seven of his last 10 games, Barrett has scored more than his point prop, which has reached as high as 22.5 points. Even though tonight is New York’s second game in as many nights, his predicted total seems low. The over/under on this has moved up to 19.5 at some stores, so don’t wait to snag your Over 18.5 prop lines.
To Live and Kawhi in L.A.
The loss of star forward Paul George, who could miss as much as three weeks with a knee injury, was a devastating blow to the Los Angeles Clippers’ postseason hopes.
With the Clippers sitting at No. 5 in the Western Conference, more pressure is being placed on Kawhi Leonard to lead the team to the playoffs. George was hurt in a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who are scheduled to play tonight at Crypto.com Arena.
In seven games played this month, Kawhi is averaging 27.4 points. Despite a drop in the predicted points from Tuesday’s (closed 238), I still have Leonard scoring 28.5 points against the Thunder, and that’s before accounting for the huge hole that PG’s absence will leave in the Clippers’ offense.
In Tuesday’s loss to OKC, Leonard was held to 21 points on 7-of-16 shooting and 5-of-7 free throw shooting. Before getting knocked out of the game late, George had played 35 minutes, attempted 17 field goals, and scored 18 points. Oklahoma City plays at a fast tempo, which allows Los Angeles to have more possessions thanks to their added touches on offense.
Leonard and PG have become inseparable in recent time off, so if you want to see Leonard’s productivity while George is on the bench, you’ll have to go back to mid-January. Kawhi played in four games without Paul George at the beginning of January, scoring 29, 33, 24, and 30 points on 20 or more field goal attempts in three of those games.
I predict a lot of shots and more than 30 points for Leonard tonight.
Big Easy Money
The New Orleans Pelicans are currently a half-game behind 10th place and just two games out of sixth place in the Western Conference, making them one of many teams vying for a spot in the play-in tournament.
Laying eight points with a higher team total of 117.5, tonight’s non-conference matchup with the Charlotte Hornets bodes well for the Pelicans’ plans. That means the Pels will have a lot more opportunities to score, which could lead to a busy night for point guard CJ McCollum.
In tonight’s game, McCollum is facing a combo prop for points + assists + rebounds at 31.5 (Over -125). He is averaging just over 21 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game this month.
McCollum’s scoring has slowed over the past four games (15, 26, 14, and 13 points), but he has remained very involved in the offense, dishing out 24 assists. I have his points and assists projected at 28.7, but his rebounding is what makes this player prop interesting.
In March, Charlotte’s offense has been abysmal, ranking last in the league in both offensive rating and effective field goal percentage. In addition to being 25th in field goal percentage, the Hornets are also last in rebound percentage (47.9%).
The Pelicans are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. They rank fifth in the advanced rating this month and eighth in the league as a whole.
The 6-foot-3 McCollum isn’t afraid to get in the fray on the glass, as evidenced by the fact that he increased his monthly rebound average from 4.3 to 5.6 in March. Despite the team’s lackluster offense on Tuesday in San Antonio, he grabbed eight boards.
McCollum’s prop total is between 31.5 and 32.5, giving us plenty of room to maneuver tonight, but I have him going for a combined 34.6 points, rebounds, and assists. Though he has won only once in his last four games with this combination prop, he is 6-4 O/U in this market in March and has a fantastic matchup tonight. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to bet on McCollum and other NBA player props at top online NBA betting sites.