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DALLAS, TEXAS - DECEMBER 29: Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks drives against Eric Gordon #10 of the Houston Rockets in the second half at American Airlines Center on December 29, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. Tim Heitman/Getty Images/AFP

What has the NBA's recent offensive explosion meant for sportsbooks, especially where player props are concerned? James Bisson takes a look at the growing phenomenon of public bettors flooding the Over on NBA player prop bets like never before.

They're the kind of numbers you usually only see when playing on Rookie difficulty in 2K – and they're popping up an awful lot these days.

In the past month alone, we've seen the following stat lines produced in official NBA regular-season games:

  • Donovan Mitchell erupting for 71 points (the eighth-highest total in NBA history) and adding 11 assists in the Cleveland Cavaliers' 145-134 overtime win over the Chicago Bulls
  • Luka Doncic putting together a 60-point, 21-rebound, 10-assist triple-double in the Dallas Mavericks' 126-121 OT triumph over the New York Knicks
  • Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo averaging an incredible 43 points and 18 rebounds over a four-game span in late December and early January, a stretch that included back-to-back 40-20 performances
  • Devin Booker pouring in 58 points in Phoenix's 118-114 win over New Orleans, just 2 1/2 weeks after scoring 51 points in a one-sided victory over the Bulls
  • Klay Thompson knocking down 10 3-pointers en route to a 54-point effort in a 143-141 Golden State victory over Atlanta.

I could go on, but you get the point.

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As of Friday, there have already been a whopping 52 games in which a player has scored at least 43 points in a game, including 14 50-point performances. For context, there were only 19 such games all of last season.

Simply put, the best players in the world are balling out – and that has massive ramifications for the NBA betting landscape. Specifically, the exploding popularity of player prop betting.

The Over on Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum's points prop for Thursday's game against the Dallas Mavericks was the second-most popular market of any NBA wager, behind only the Memphis Grizzles-Orlando Magic O230 play. Player props have steadily grown in interest among casual and experienced sports bettors, but they're now on a whole other level of popularity.

"It’s crazy how popular player props have become," said Adam Pullen, Assistant Director of Trading at Caesars Sportsbook. "Now we have all these options available for every statistical category. It’s just a different angle – you don’t have to worry about how the team will do if these guys continue to put up huge numbers.

"Some people just prefer to focus on how one player will perform versus handicapping an entire team. We see a lot of sharp action on props, and it’s by far the toughest player props for us to book out of all the major sports."

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Not only are people betting NBA player props in larger numbers than ever before, they're leaning hard into the Over.

Pullen explained that player prop markets – particularly those for signature games – are ridiculously one-sided. And when you consider that Overs have always been the public preference, that's really saying something.

DENVER, COLORADO - JANUARY 05: Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets is fouled going to the basket by Norman Powell #24 of the Los Angeles Clippers in the first quarter at Ball Arena on January 05, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP

"When you get the marquee ESPN or TNT games that are good matchups and set up to showcase the stars, more people are going to want to bet overs for their player props," said Pullen. "So you have to wonder how high you’re going to set these (player prop) totals, especially after you see someone score 50 or 60 last game.

"When you see these guys putting up monster numbers every night, it’s even harder to bet Unders. The public wants to bet Overs more so than Unders already, and we’re seeing even more side with the Overs."

Even more? That's putting it mildly. Everyone is betting the Over. Take Thursday night's TNT doubleheader as the most stark example of this.

Doncic saw a points prop of 34.5 (Over -119/Under-115), a rebounds prop of 9.5 (+110/-151) and an assists prop of 8.5 (-109/-125) for Thursday's encounter with the Boston Celtics. The Over for Doncic’s points prop saw a whopping 97.2% of the tickets and 97.1% of the handle, while the Overs for his assists and points/rebounds/assists props came in at 100%.

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The numbers were even more one-sided for Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic. The reigning NBA MVP entered Thursday's matchup with the visiting L.A. Clippers with a points prop of 27.5 (-133/-103); 99.4% of the tickets and 99.8% of the handle landed on the Over.

But here's the thing: the Unders dominated Thursday night. Tatum, whose point prop closed at 31.5, finished with 29 points. Doncic went 0-for-3 on his point/rebound/assist Overs against the Celtics, as did Jokic.

Combine the betting action for the point props of all three players, and you get 98.6% of the tickets and 95.3% of the handle on the Over. That's a lot of losing – and suggests that perhaps it might be worth a look at the Under every once in a while, especially when so much public money is coming in on the Over.

"It makes total sense that these props are extremely lopsided," Pullen said. "If you’re a sharp bettor or someone who likes to go against the public money, you’d probably want to wait for the last minute to bet these.

"That line is usually driven up by all that public money, so you’re usually going to get the value there at the very end and not at the beginning – unless a line is viewed as egregious when it opens."

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