Each Thursday, prop-purveyor Alan Goldsher is going to drop three extreme NBA Name A Bets, and break down why you should or shouldn’t take a flyer on one of these long (and sometimes super-long) shots.
Thursday: Lakers at Warriors
Andrew Wiggins – 35 minutes, 28 points, 7 combined steals and blocks: 100/1
The Case For: Everybody hates Wiggins. OK, maybe not everybody, but definitely NBA fantasy owners who, since 2014, have watched the native of Canada score points … and that’s it. Much to their chagrin, counting stats has never really been a thing for the former Timberwolf. Assists? Nah, he never averaged more than 2.5 over an entire season. Rebounds? Yeah, right, the most he could ever muster was 4.8. Blocks? Steals? Let’s not even go there.
But ever since Wiggy was traded to Golden State on Feb. 7, the dude has shown flashes of All-Star-ness, most notably during a Feb. 12 game in Phoenix, when he went off for 27 points, four blocks and a pair of steals. We know, we know, Phoenix kinda stinks, but if/when Dubs coach Steve Kerr gives Wiggins a few extra minutes of court time, there’s no reason to think that on any given night, he can’t add some across-the-board numbers to ye olde box score.
The Case Against: Unlike Phoenix, the Lakers aren’t stinky – matter o’ fact, in the midst of a six-game winning streak, they’re smelling pretty good. It bears mention here that the first of those six wins was a 125-120 victory over these very Warriors, a game in which Wiggins scored 24 points and put together a combined six blocks and steals in 31 minutes. Not quite enough to win our goofball prop bet … but damn close.
Friday: Nets at Hawks
Trae Young – 51 combined points and assists: +500
The Case For: First off, we need to find a quality nickname for Young. “Ice Trae” has been in the ozone since last season, but c’mon, the guy’s an All-Star, somebody can do better than that. (We’ll float “Young Treezy.”) More importantly, for the sake of this discussion, Young Treezy is balling out — 32.8 points and 9.2 assists over his last 10 games. Our abacus tells us that that adds up to 41, which, our abacus also tells us, is less than our prop bet total of 51. But two things might mitigate that: 1) the Brooklyn Nets are bad at basketball; and 2) in his two games against the Nets this season, Young Treezy is averaging 43 points and eight assists. That, friends, adds up to 51. #NailedIt
The Case Against: While the Nets are bad at basketball, they’re just five days removed from holding the Hornets to 86 points, so they do have the capability of keeping lousy teams from scoring. (Spoiler alert: The Hawks are lousy.) Additionally, this will be Atlanta’s third game in five nights, with another game looming Saturday vs. Portland. Now Young Treezy (we’re gonna make this stick) is a minutes monster, but if this one becomes a blowout in either direction, Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce might well give his star a bit of bench time in order to keep him fresh for the Blazers. For Treezy, the stats will be there, but the minutes are a maybe.
Saturday: Rockets at Celtics Jayson Tatum – New career high in points (42-plus): +2000
The Case For: Unlike his fellow All-Star, Young Treezy, Tatum has an awesome nickname, that being Taco Jay. (Backstory: He likes tacos.) But similar to Young Treezy – it’s sticking, right? – Tatum is performing at an elite level. Over his last four outings, Senor Tatum has averaged 34.5 points, the highlight being a career-best 41 against the mighty Lakers in Los Angeles. Don’t be surprised if he stays en fuego against a Rockets team that allows an eminently middling 114.1 points a night.
The Case Against: When these two teams played on Feb. 11, Houston brought their big-boy defensive pants, holding the C’s to 105 points, and Tatum to a mere 15. Even more troubling, over his career, Taco Jay has been flat-out lousy against the Rockets, averaging just 12.4 points per game, as opposed to his career average of 16.9.
Potentially more problematically, now that the Rockets are doing that weirdo small-ball thing, it’s up in the air as to whom Tatum will be guarding. He’ll likely spend some time checking Robert Covington, a bundle of energy who, while not a focal point of the Rockets offense, has a non-stop motor. Since joining the Rockets on Feb. 6, Lord Covington (now there’s a nickname) has averaged 8.4 three-point attempts per game, so Tatum will have to stick with him all over the floor. Can Taco Jay best his career high with tired legs against a team that has proven to be his kryptonite? The nation will be watching.