Bulls vs. Hornets: The best player prop bets for Feb. 9
The NBA season, as they say, is a marathon, not a sprint. Both the Charlotte Hornets and the Chicago Bulls burst out the gates early on, but have found themselves cramping up as they approach the home stretch of the regular season. Charlotte has lost five in a row, as their once-dynamic offense has begun to sputter. Chicago, meanwhile, is coming off back-to-back losses, but more critically is running out of guards with Alex Caruso, Lonzo Ball, and now Ayo Dosunmu out of commission.
Tonight’s a chance for both teams to right the ship against an ailing opponent, but one of these teams is going to find themselves blown even more off course.
Bulls vs. Hornets is at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, and we have the three best player prop bets for you below.
Thu, February 10 2022, 12:30 AM
LAMELO BALL OVER/UNDER 2.5 3-POINTERS MADE
LaMelo Ball is a newly minted All-Star in just his second year as a pro. Perhaps most impressively to those who watched him playing overseas in Australia, is that he’s done it on the back of his 3-point shooting. He still takes some difficult attempts, but he’s found a happy medium between self-creation and spot-ups, with about 75% of his 3-point attempts coming off of assists. To then shoot 36.1% in non-garbage time minutes is quite a feat.
But despite all that, we’re swerving here and taking the Under.
Ball is averaging 2.3 3s per game over his last five outings, but averages can be deceiving, as he has only hit more than two 3s once in that span, and only twice in his last 10 games.
So while Ball is at the early peak of his current professional career for accolades and recognition, he’s actually mired in something of a shooting slump. He is shooting just 18-62 over his last 10 games, or 29%.
LAMELO BALL OVER/UNDER 7.5 ASSISTS
Where Ball is distinctly not slumping, however, is as a facilitator. The shooting is there to keep defenses honest, and he’s effectively proven that opponents can’t routinely go under on ball screens to stymie his pick and roll game. There’s a sublime quality to watching LaMelo prod and probe a defense, looking for weaknesses and preying upon mental mistakes.
His craft is next-level stuff. He can make just about any pass you’ve ever seen, with both hands, and he regularly tries ones that nobody has ever seen, seemingly just because he can. That elite level of skill would be unbalancing for any defense on its own, but it’s his combination of skill and size that really discombobulates opponents. He’s able to survey the whole court as he moves chess pieces around the board, and most teams are short of the true wing-sized forwards that can make life difficult for him.
The Bulls are one such team. If they had any positional hole coming into the year, it was at small forward. That need has only been further exacerbated with the loss of Patrick Williams, Lonzo Ball, and Alex Caruso. The Bulls' defense has slipped out of its once top-five ranking all the way to 21st, and over the last two weeks, they’re playing at a bottom three-level, per Cleaning the Glass. That might be checkmate for LaMelo.
NIKOLA VUCEVIC OVER/UNDER 20.5 POINTS
When the Bulls came out guns blazing earlier this season, Nikola Vucevic was the one player who wasn’t living up to his part of the bargain. The Bulls traded two first-round picks and some promising young players to lure the two-time All-Star away from Orlando, and despite the perfect seeming offensive fit, he just couldn’t get in a groove even as the team kept winning.
But as the Bulls have kept bleeding bodies and they’ve needed him more and more, Vucevic has stepped up. While his full-season averages are still not to his standards in terms of volume or efficiency, recently he’s been every bit the player the Bulls thought they were getting.
Over his last five games Vuc is averaging 24.0 points per game, to go with 13.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists. And he should easily eclipse that scoring number again tonight.
The Hornets just do not have any interior defense to speak of. Mason Plumlee is too slow and too old, and the rest of Charlotte's centers are too young and too error-prone to stop a player of Vucevic’s skill level.