Timberwolves vs. Knicks: The best player prop bets for Jan. 18
We’re pushing past the halfway mark of the 2021-22 NBA season, which means we now have a pretty good sense of who most of these teams are and how far they might go. But a few puzzles still remain, and a pair of them are playing tonight as the Minnesota Timberwolves take on the New York Knicks.
The Wolves are at 21-22 on the back of a shocking top 10 defense, while the Knicks have seesawed all year long and find themselves back to .500 at 22-22. Both teams desperately need to start building some momentum if they’re going to fulfill their postseason aspirations. No doubt they see each see tonight as an opportunity to do just that.
Timberwolves vs. Knicks tips off at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBA TV, and we have the three best player prop bets below.
Wed, January 19 2022, 12:30 AM
KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS OVER/UNDER 1.5 3-POINTERS MADE
Anthony Edwards has an infectious personality and tantalizing upside, but Karl-Anthony Towns is still far and away the best player on this Minnesota squad. Towns, through a combination of injury and personal tragedy, has not fulfilled the promise he first held when taken with the No.1 overall pick in the 2015 draft, but this season he’s reminding everyone of what makes him special.
And what is that exactly? It’s that Karl-Anthony Towns is the best 3-point shooting big man of all-time, full stop. It’s not just his percentages (an absurd 41.1% from deep this season), but the diversity and difficulty of his shot diet that is only comparable to the best of the best shooting guards. While Kristaps Porzingis earned the "unicorn" moniker early on in his career for his combination of skill and shooting at 7-plus feet tall, it is Towns whose shooting actually deserves mythologizing.
That’s a big problem for the Knicks because if you were to design a player in a lab with traits designed to bend Tom Thibodeau’s defensive scheme to the breaking point, you’d produce someone like KAT. The Knicks by design allow more above-the-break 3s than all but six other teams, per Cleaning the Glass. It just so happens that is KAT’s preferred shot, making up 26% of all his shot attempts.
Mitchell Robinson has looked more spry in recent weeks after cutting some excess weight gained during his rehab from a broken foot last season, but he’s far from the perimeter terror he used to be. Shooting big men like Nikola Vucevic have consistently given him fits, and Towns should be no exception.
ANTHONY EDWARDS OVER/UNDER 3.5 3-POINTERS MADE
Towns may be top dog, but Edwards is the rising star of this group. Pre-draft, 3-point shooting was one of the big concerns with Ant as a prospect. That seems ridiculous now, because even though he’s only shooting 37.6% from deep this season, that’s actually kind of deceptive.
Anthony Edwards' Perimeter Shooting Talent grade of a 96th percentile A+ is 4th highest of all 211 players in their 20-year old season from 2013-21.— BBall Index (@The_BBall_Index) January 18, 2022
His 3s are harder than 83% of the database, dragging him down to an overall 37.4% 3PT%.
Player Profiles:https://t.co/BTCuhtUgPw pic.twitter.com/BfNlpKSilP
That’s because Ant takes an immense volume of 3s of almost impossible difficulty. We’re talking off the dribble, unassisted, James Harden kind of stuff. Ant shoots more unassisted 3s than almost anyone in the NBA (99th percentile), with only 61% of his attempts coming off an assist.
If you don’t watch Edwards much, this line might still seem huge, but in his last five games, Ant is hitting 4.2 of his 8.8 attempts from outside. Edwards is a true shot creator, and he’s manufacturing solid offensive possessions entirely on his own steam in just his sophomore year. As with Towns, he’s a fan of the above the break 3, and should likewise cause problems for the Knicks' rigid perimeter approach.
JARRED VANDERBILT OVER/UNDER 10.5 REBOUNDS
Jarred Vanderbilt is a fascinating player. He’s in the middle of a breakout season, starring in his role as a do-it-all defensive stud who hounds opposing players, forces turnovers, and grabs every board in sight.
He has a 12.1% offensive rebound rate, which is 83rd percentile among all bigs, per Cleaning the Glass, and is averaging 9.2 rebounds on the season (11.8 in his last five games). He’s had some especially absurd outings recently, including a 19-rebound masterpiece against the Houston Rockets.
But part of the reason Vanderbilt is thriving is because of an offensive environment that leaves him very rarely battling on the glass against two traditionally-sized bigs. As teams continue to maximize offensive spacing, Vanderbilt can often bully the small forwards masquerading as power forwards he’s matched up with.
That won’t be the case tonight, as Thibs very rarely ever plays such an alignment. For most of the game, Vanderbilt will be going against Julius Randle. Randle has had a disappointing season in many respects, but defensive rebounding has not been one of them. Vanderbilt should fall just short of tonight's projected rebounding total.