Kings vs. Bulls: The best player prop bets for Feb. 16
Tonight’s game between the Chicago Bulls and the visiting Sacramento Kings features a pair of dynamic duos, with the veterans DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic taking on the young and hungry De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis.
The Bulls have persisted through an avalanche of injuries, and against all odds find themselves tied for the best record in the Eastern Conference. But in the hotly contested East, a single bad week could cost them a season’s worth of work. Meanwhile, the Sacramento Kings are looking for consistency in the early days of the new partnership between franchise point guard Fox and new arrival Sabonis.
Kings vs. Bulls tips off at 8:00 p.m. ET on League Pass, and we have the three best player prop bets for you below.
Thu, February 17 2022, 1:00 AM
DEMAR DEROZAN OVER/UNDER 32.5 POINTS
Whenever a player’s performance puts them in conversations with Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain, you know they have something special brewing. And so it has been with DeMar DeRozan, who at age 32 is playing the best basketball of his life.
Why is DeRozan having so much success? Naturally, he deserves a lion's share of the credit for upping his own level of play. Billy Donovan deserves some too for putting him in place to succeed. But the one new element that truly stands out about DeMar’s role this year, is his partnership with Montenegrin big man Nikola Vucecvic.
Quite simply, DeRozan has never had a partner anything like Vuc. DeMar has been a midrange assassin his entire career, but he’s done that in spite of playing along mostly non-spacing fives whose presence in the lane only made DeRozan’s work harder.
Vucevic’s absence in the lane is addition by subtraction. DeRozan has never had this much room to play with, and when he gets rolling it’s comical how easy it looks for him. NBA defenses are designed to concede the midrange over the 3-ball or shots at the rim, but DeMar has made that a losing proposition. Teams have little choice but to overplay DeMar and potentially concede a layup, or just let him get to his spots and drill jumper after jumper. It’s a riddle that’s proven unsolvable for most Bulls opponents this season, and Vucevic deserves credit for helping to maximize DeRozan’s gifts.
The Kings have the league's second-worst defense, and the addition of Sabonis does nothing to help them on that end. I expect DeRozan to stay hot tonight.
DE’AARON FOX OVER/UNDER 1.5 3-POINTERS MADE
As is the case with so many small guards, Fox's ability to threaten defenses from outside the arc will determine whether his ceiling reaches true star level or not. For now, the answer has been no. Even relative to his not-so-great standards, Fox has had a down year shooting the ball.
And discouragingly, Fox has let his lack of success from distance begin to erode his confidence from out there. There has been a precipitous drop in both his per-game attempts as well as the number he takes as a portion of his overall offense.
He’s down to a career-low 26.7% from 3 on the season, and has dropped from 5.5 attempts last season to just 3.7 this season. Per Cleaning the Glass, just 19% of Fox’s shot attempts this season have been 3s, which is second percentile among point guards. There are almost no point guards in the NBA, starting-caliber or otherwise, that take as few 3s as Fox does.
While Fox has shot it a bit better over the last few outings, I’m backing the year long-trend on this one.
HARRISON BARNES OVER/UNDER 1.5 3-POINTERS MADE
This pick is all about missing faces. For one, the Kings trade with the Indiana Pacers that netted them Sabonis cost them a lot in terms of future potential, but in a more immediate sense, it cost them nearly all of their on-court shooting. Without Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield, the Kings are suddenly extremely thin on credible outside threats.
Now Harrison Barnes, once seen as a sure bet to be moved by the Kings in a trade, has become essential to the offensive ecosystem around Fox and Sabonis. Luckily, Barnes is up to the task, as he’s hit 40.6% of his long-balls this season on 4.8 attempts per game, a number I would expect to rise down the stretch of the season, purely out of necessity.
Barnes is a classic three-four, which presents a certain difficulty for the injury-depleted Chicago Bulls. The Bulls don’t have a healthy true small forward or power forward defender on the roster, and for all DeRozan’s virtues, wing defense is not one of his strengths.