Today’s NBA Player Prop Picks: Serb Serves Teammates Thursday

Nikola Jokic isn't as selfish a scorer as you'd expect for an MVP, and he should continue being a people-pleaser in tonight's matchup. Find out why we're backing the Nuggets big to share the love against the Thunder with our NBA player prop picks.

Rory Breasail - Betting Analyst at
Rory Breasail • Betting Analyst
Nov 3, 2022 • 09:19 ET • 4 min read
Nikola Jokic NBA player props
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

We have a shorter, two-game night on the schedule for our daily NBA player prop picks Thursday night.

After dropping three straight games, including losses to the Charlotte Hornets and Detroit Pistons, the Golden State Warriors will look to get right against the 1-7 Orlando Magic. The Magic might be stacking lots of losses in the standings, but they look like one of the NBA’s winners this season already due to the play of rookie phenom Paolo Banchero.

The Denver Nuggets, meanwhile, will look to rebound from a desultory loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in their matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The supposedly tanking Thunder have won four in a row behind the brilliant play of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and a surprisingly stout defense.

Our NBA player prop picks for Thursday, November 2 take a look at how Franz Wagner could take advantage of the Warriors’ bench woes, as well as Nikola Jokic’s recently deferential play.

NBA player props for November 3

Picks made on 11/3/2022 at 5:15 a.m. ET.
Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.

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Today’s best NBA player props

The odds widgets below represent the best odds currently available for each betting market at regulated sportsbooks.

Wagging the finger

The Warriors’ title defense is off to a rocky start. Despite proving unequivocally that the trio of Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson are still world-beaters even in their 30s, they have not walked into 2022-23 as immediately dominant. Indeed, they’ve lost three games in a row and have some things they need to figure out if they want to continue their dynastic ways.

The reason for hope is that their starters are still beating the breaks off other teams, ranking second only to the Milwaukee Bucks starters as the best five-man unit in the league per Cleaning the Glass.

But the bench and the young guys are a mixed bag to say the least. Former No.2 overall pick James Wiseman shows tantalizing flashes, but also makes so many mistakes on defense and has proven an awkward fit on offense. The Warriors are a whopping +14.9 points worse on defense when Wiseman is on the floor, which is a 14-minute window of opportunity every game for any talented forward or big to exploit against the Dubs.

And there’s one Magic player in particular who might be motivated to show the Warriors precisely what they’re missing Thursday: Franz Wagner. The Warriors could have drafted Wagner with the seventh pick in 2021, but instead took Jonathan Kuminga, who, despite flashes of talent, is currently earning DNPs in Golden State. 

Coming off an impressive showing for Germany in EuroBasket, Franz has flashed a complete game in his second season. He can score from all three levels, pass, switch on defense, rebound, and truly do it all. His playmaking is almost startling for a second-year player of his size and would have fit Steve Kerr’s system to a tee.

He’s also immensely competitive and will likely relish the chance to exploit the gaps in the Warriors’ struggling second unit.

Franz Wagner Prop:  Over 21.5 points and assists (-125)

Missing the point

One of the silver linings to the Nuggets’ horrible injury luck the past couple of seasons was supposed to be that Nikola Jokic had finally realized how dominant he could be as a scorer. He seemed to finally understand just how important it was that he look for his own offense first for Denver. But, for Jokic, it appears old habits die hard. 

Jokic is not a scorer at heart. That seems strange to say about a guy who just won the MVP twice in a row, in part due to averaging around 27 points per game on elite efficiency, but it’s true. He really lives his old Serbian coach’s adage that “passing makes two people happy”. He lives to facilitate, control the flow of the game, and set the table for others. That he happens to be one of the most talented scorers of all time from 10 feet in is almost an inconvenience to him and his worldview. 

Or at least, he plays like that sometimes. Instead of adding Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. to the lineup alongside the new score-first, post-dominating Jokic, we’ve seen him revert to some old habits. His usage has dropped precipitously, down nearly 7% over his two MVP seasons, as he prefers to defer to his capable teammates. 

The Thunder have a pretty solid interior defense and weirdly long defenders, who are flying around and making life difficult for even the most imposing bigs. Not that Jokic couldn’t hit the Over on this if he wanted to, but it appears, for this part of the season at least, his preference is to work through Jamal and MPJ as much as possible.

Nikola Jokic Prop: Under 25.5 points (-115)

Man of the people

Since we’ve established that Jokic would rather play the role of facilitator, it stands to reason that we also like his Over on assists for tonight’s game. It’s a confluence of factors that make him more likely than usual to go over this modest 8.5 line.

For one thing, both Murray and Porter Jr. are expected to be available for Thursday’s game. Murray and Jokic have a Draymond-to-Steph-like psychic connection in the pick and roll, and nothing makes Jokic happier than setting up his Canadian co-star for an open shot. Porter is basically open any time he catches the ball due to his combination of shooting ability and size, and he’s currently hitting 48.9% from downtown.

The other reason is that the Thunder are a small and rather slight team. Nobody on the Thunder has the length to bother Jokic, nor to obscure his ability to survey the entire court from the top of the key. While he could turn that into a scoring position almost at will, as we’ve noted, that will is currently not there. Instead, he’ll likely score enough to keep the Thunder honest, but pick them apart by throwing pinpoint passes to one of Denver’s several good cutters.

Jokic has had nine assists or more in four of the Nuggets’ seven games so far. He’s a great bet to do so again at plus money. 

Nikola Jokic Prop: Over 8.5 assists (+104)

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