The NBA season is young, and that means betting value abounds. The books are still trying to figure out how to value players and teams. Early-season overreactions have swelled some numbers and shrunken others. Pick-generating models still lack the data necessary to make accurate predictions. Fun!
I’ve done my best to find value amidst the chaos, and here are my top NBA betting picks for Sunday’s action.
Written Picks YTD: 1-2-0 (+0.42u)
Total Picks YTD: 8-9-0 (+4.58u)*
*Follow me @is_sirois for any other plays.
1. Harrison Barnes o16.5 Points | -112 (1.5u) at FD Sportsbook
2. Harrison Barnes 3+ Made Threes | +194 (.5u) at FD Sportsbook
There are few players in the NBA hotter than Harrison Barnes. The forward kicked things off this year by scoring 36 points against Portland, and he kept them rolling by hanging 25 against Utah. He went 8-for-11 from beyond the arc in the first game and 2-for-6 in the second.
I believe that sports betting is all about taking what’s given to you. It’s clear that the Kings plan to feature Barnes more this season — head coach Luke Walton told Barnes that he wants him shooting eight threes per game. The numbers back that up: Barnes is averaging 8.5 attempted threes per game thus far, well above his average (4.4) from last year. Sacramento’s decision to pull Marvin Bagley from the opening night rotation is another clear sign that Barnes will see a larger role this year, but the books just haven’t caught up to that yet.
If you’re not convinced, here are two other reasons to slam Barnes’ overs. First, he scored 18-plus points in two of Sacramento’s three games against the Warriors last year. Second, the Warriors are currently playing at the NBA’s fastest pace, which should provide Barnes with more than enough opportunities to score. I recommend splitting two units between the standard points market and a teased-up line for his three-pointers.
3. Joe Harris o12.5 Points | -108 at FD Sportsbook
Joe Harris was an integral part of Brooklyn’s offense last year. He should have an even larger role this year. Some of Brooklyn’s other perimeter weapons from last season, like Landry Shamet and Jeff Green, have moved on. Also, Kyrie Irving remains absent due to his stance on the vaccine.
Harris averaged 14.1 points per game in 2020-21. In his three meetings with Charlotte, Harris posted point totals of 13, 9, and 26. As you would expect, most of his damage came from beyond the arc. That makes this line all the more valuable because the Hornets struggle to defend the perimeter.
Charlotte allowed the most made threes per game last year (14.5). That number has improved this year, as they are giving up just 13 made threes per game so far. That isn’t awful (it ranks them 12th-best, actually!), but the sample size renders it misleading. The Hornets have faced the Indiana Pacers and the Cleveland Cavaliers, teams not known for perimeter shooting. Both squads ranked as bottom-half units from beyond the arc last year. Yet the Hornets still allowed the Pacers to go 17-47 from deep. And while the Cavaliers only went 9-31 from three-point land, they aren’t built to take perimeter shots — they went just 7-28 from deep in their win over the Hawks.
4. Celtics -5 | -110 at FD Sportsbook
The Boston Celtics have gotten out to an incredibly disappointing start. They dropped a close game against the New York Knicks and followed that up with a blowout loss to the Toronto Raptors. Also, a crucial part of their young core, Jaylen Brown, is questionable for this matchup due to left knee soreness.
But we’re riding with Boston anyway. Brown played through a questionable tag in the season opener and should do so again here. But even without Brown, Boston has too much talent not to win (and cover) against the Houston Rockets. The Rockets may have just dismantled the Oklahoma City Thunder by a 33-point margin, but they lost to the Timberwolves by 18 points, and Boston is a better team than Minnesota.
My reasoning here isn’t purely transitive. Boston took care of business against Houston twice last season, winning their first meeting by 27 and the next by 16. The Celtics haven’t looked great to start the year, but this number doesn’t give them enough credit. They’ll right the ship with a decisive win in Houston.
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