Kings vs. Lakers: The best player prop bets for Jan. 4
The Sacramento Kings are headed to "The Crypt" tonight to square off against their Pacific Division rivals and longtime foils, the Los Angeles Lakers. While tonight's game likely won’t have the magic of their early 2000s rivalries, both teams are coming off some of their stronger stretches this season, each having won three of their last four games.
The Lakers are being carried by another otherworldly stretch by LeBron James, while Sacramento is coming off its best win of the season against the Miami Heat on Sunday. Both teams will look to keep the momentum going with another this evening.
Kings vs. Lakers tips off at 10:30 p.m. ET on NBA TV, and we have the three best player prop bets below.
Wed, January 5 2022, 3:30 AM
RUSSELL WESTBROOK OVER/UNDER 21.5 POINTS
The Lakers have found something with LeBron James playing the center position. While Westbrook’s fit has been awkward at times, the geometry of the court with LeBron at the five has begun to tilt in Westbrook’s favor.
While Westbrook is a matchup-dependent player at this stage in his career, tonight’s game against the Kings figures to be a favorable one. Not only are the Kings missing starting center Richaun Holmes, who is the anchor of their backline defense, the once benched Marvin Bagley is also playing major minutes under Alvin Gentry.
That matters here because Bagley seriously struggles in pick-and-roll defense. Even with the book on Russ being to go under every screen, the Kings’ defenders aren’t disciplined enough to consistently handle the Lakers when they work multiple screens into the action. If LeBron, acting as the center in many current Lakers alignments, simply flips the angle of his pick on a re-screen, that’s going to allow Westbrook a line drive to the basket.
That action works so well because at any moment either of LeBron or Westbrook could be the one to suddenly dive to the rim, and both are excellent passers. Getting Bagley or Damion Jones in space off a screen should be child's play for the Lakers, and a boon to Westbrook’s scoring total.
DE'AARON FOX OVER/UNDER 21.5 POINTS
Fox, who has had an inconsistent year as the Kings' franchise point guard, should like his chances against the Lakers' defense tonight. Fox’s scoring is down significantly this season, and he’s struggling with his outside shot while settling far too often for mid-range jumpers. But the matchup with the Lakers should help. The Lakers allow the fourth-most shots at the rim in the NBA, per Cleaning the Glass, which is where Fox makes his living.
The Kings, thanks to Fox, are one of only two NBA teams in the top 10 in both frequency and efficiency in transition scoring. The Lakers' transition defense is largely a mess, and Fox should get some easy points simply by pushing the pace.
LA’s defensive personnel just isn’t very good. Avery Bradley is a player whose defensive reputation has long outstripped his on-court impact, and though he makes the occasional highlight play on that end, more often than not faster, more agile players simply blow right by him. Fox is one of, if not the fastest player in the NBA. With the likes of Bradley, Westbrook, or Malik Monk matching up with him on the perimeter, he should be living in the paint tonight.
LEBRON JAMES OVER/UNDER 3.5 3-POINTERS MADE
Even in year 19, LeBron James never stops evolving his game. When James was a high school player getting hyped up as the next Michael Jordan, the only legitimate knock on his game was his inconsistent outside jump shot.
Those days are long in the rearview. James is shooting a career-high 7.9 3-point attempts per game and hitting a solid 37.4% of them. Even as he ages and loses the ability to drive and explode as frequently as he used to, James has found a way to push his per-game scoring (28.5) to the highest it’s been since his first stint in Cleveland.
Still, the Under is the play here. As previously noted, the Kings don’t have a strong interior defensive presence. On top of that, the one thing that Sacramento does excel at defensively is limiting opponent 3-point attempts. Per Cleaning the Glass, only 33% of the Kings' opponent's shots are 3-point attempts, which is the third lowest mark in the NBA.
The Kings guard the long ball well, and James will find it easier to do his damage inside tonight.