Nets vs. Wizards: The best player prop bets for Jan. 19
Tonight's matchup between the Brooklyn Nets (27-16) and the feisty Washington Wizards (23-2) promises its fair share of intrigue.
The Nets are in a weird spot. With the news that Kevin Durant will miss 4-6 weeks with a sprained MCL, there was renewed interest around the Kyrie Irving situation. Would the loss of Durant finally spur the former Cavaliers star to suck it up and get the vaccine, facilitating his return as a full-time player? The answer was an immediate and emphatic no.
That leaves 10 or fewer games throughout the rest of the season that the Nets’ big three could theoretically play together. For a team once pitched as a title-bound juggernaut, that’s a disappointing prospect. They’ll have to make the most of the James Harden and Kyrie Irving tandem when the chance is afforded to them like it is tonight, but the Wizards will do their best to spoil the Nets’ fun.
The Wizards are no longer the surprise success story they were at the start of the season, but with the return of Thomas Bryant, they are finally fully healthy. However, Bradley Beal continues to struggle, and his play is ultimately going to decide where Washington’s ceiling lies.
Nets vs. Wizards is set to begin at 7:00 p.m. ET on League Pass, and our picks for the three best player props bets are below.
Thu, January 20 2022, 12:00 AM
KYLE KUZMA OVER/UNDER 9.5 REBOUNDS
It’s been hard to look at the Los Angeles Lakers' struggles this season and not wonder where they might be if they hadn’t traded Kyle Kuzma.
Kuzma is in the middle of the best stretch of his career, posting averages of 23.9 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 3.4 assists while shooting 52.3% from the field over his last 10 games. This is on top of his incredibly clutch play throughout the season, where time after time he has been the difference-maker for the Wizards pulling out close games.
Kyle Kuzma put Joel Embiid through the Processor pic.twitter.com/j4glAZjLEx— Chase Hughes (@ChaseHughesNBCS) January 17, 2022
It’s incredible that Kuzma, sometimes derided for his poor decision-making and inability to sublimate his game under LeBron, has so rapidly developed into exactly the kind of running mate that James so desperately needs.
Kuzma’s rebounding is a true revelation. His 21.9% defensive rebounding rate blows away his previous career-high of 15.8%, per Cleaning the Glass, and is in the 79th percentile among all bigs. The Nets are one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA, and are even smaller and less agile without Kevin Durant in the mix. Expect Kuzma to continue his winning ways on the glass.
PICK: OVER 9.5 REBOUNDS (-105)
KYRIE IRVING OVER/UNDER 2.5 3-POINTERS MADE
Irving has only played four games this NBA season, but he has looked more or less himself when he has actually taken the court. In his lone game without Durant, that meant shouldering a large portion of the offense, to the tune of 23 shot attempts in the Nets' game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kyrie is more than comfortable taking 3s, but he’s a flow player with perhaps the best handles in league history, so he truly does just take whatever the defense is willing to concede.
He's on 🔥@KyrieIrving x #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/YUhvdBsmeN— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 17, 2022
With the Wizards under head coach Wes Unseld Jr., that has a definitive answer. The Wizards allow fewer 3s as a percentage of opposing shot attempts (32.1%) than any other team in the NBA. They make a point to wall off the 3-point line, but remarkably do so without compromising their rim defense. In turn, that means that Wizards force their opponents to shoot more mid-range jump shots than any other team in the NBA.
Some players will work really hard to not let that happen, but Kyrie couldn’t care less. He’s one of the few gifted scorers that will get his own wherever the defense is most compromised and he’ll happily make it work.
Given the Wizards' scheme and Kyrie’s own proclivities to take what the defense gives him, the Under is the play here.
PICK: UNDER 2-5 3-POINTERS MADE (-167)
JAMES HARDEN OVER/UNDER 10.5 ASSISTS
James Harden is suddenly right back to where he didn’t want to be, playing a mostly solo act for a team with big expectations. If the Nets are going to weather this storm without Durant and maintain a top-six seed, Harden is going to have to shoulder a load similar to the one he did as a Houston Rocket.
Count it@JHarden13 #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/wqSDp04sOR— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 17, 2022
And there’s every reason to think he can do just that. Harden started slow, but has been back to MVP form of late. His scoring and free throws have come around, but it’s his outstanding work as a floor general that is most critical to Brooklyn now.
His assist percentage remains elite (39.4%) and he’s second only to Chris Paul in potential assists per game (18.5 to Paul’s 18.6). For the season, Harden is averaging 10 assists, but in his last five games, he is averaging 12.4.
Expect Harden to keep that pace up with KD out of the picture and Kyrie a willing catch and shoot partner tonight.
PICK: OVER 10.5 ASSISTS (+105)