Learn How to Bet NBA Player Props

Learn about NBA prop bets in-depth, understand how they work, learn about the common iterations of prop bets, and understand a few smart strategies that’ll help you keep in the black.

Oct 18, 2023 • 11:52 ET • 4 min read
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) shoots the ball in front of Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) in the first quarter during game five of the first round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at Chase Center.
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

If you’re interested in going beyond the surface and laying a wager on more than just the winner or loser of an NBA game, prop betting is for you! With NBA proposition bets (more commonly referred to as prop bets), you can wager on a multitude of different events within a game — points scored, assists, 3-point shots, blocks, steals, and much more.

What are prop bets in the NBA?

Prop bets in the NBA are wagers on events that happen within a single NBA game. They are a great way to get in on the action for specific aspects of how players and teams perform within a game and can apply to events and statistics registered by both individuals and a team as a collective.

Before we go any further, it's crucial to understand that by their definition, prop bets are not linked to the winner or loser of a game. That means they’re not connected to standard NBA point spreads win/loss bets like NBA moneylines, or the total points scored within a game (the NBA Over/Unders). 

The three major categories of prop bets are player props, team props, and game props.

NBA player props 

The largest market for basketball props is NBA player props odds, which allow bettors to wager on different aspects of a player’s performance during a single NBA game. Player props are tied to an individual player’s in-game statistics or achievements. NBA player prop bets are almost always bets on whether a player hits the Over or Under (O/U) of a particular offensive or defensive statistic, or a Yes/No bet on whether that player is involved in a particular event or not.

As with everything else in sports betting, the odds sportsbooks assign to player props are dependent on the probability of it taking place. For player props, this means odds are directly connected to a player’s profile, past performance, and quality of performance. This means that Steph Curry is always going to get much shorter odds than someone you’ve never heard of from the G League. 

An important condition, which is (largely) specific to the NBA, is that a player must actually play in order for the bet to be graded. If there’s a last-minute decision for the player to sit, you’re bet will generally be marked a push, and you’ll get your money back. However, it’s critical to closely examine your sportsbooks' terms and conditions to ensure that this is indeed the case. You can never be too careful! 

There are a lot of different combinations of player prop bets in the NBA, and we’ll explore them further below.

Points scored props

Points scored props are the most popular type of NBA player props. They’re simple—just bet on whether you think a player will score above or below a specific number of points. 

Sportsbooks will assign a number of points to a particular player (i.e., Nikola Jokic +/- 31.5), and then assign odds to both the Over/Under.

Player Over Under
Nuggets Nikola Jokic 31.5 (-110) 31.5 (-110)

Combined points scored and statistical props

If betting on straight points isn’t complex enough for your taste, fear not. There are a ton of variations and combinations of points-scored props that you can bet on. 

This includes points and rebounds props, which let you bet on the total number of combined points and rebounds a player registers in a single game. 

An example of this would be Luka Doncic, +/- 40.5 points and rebounds. If you bet the Over, Doncic could score 36 points and 5 rebounds (for a total of 41 combined between the two metrics or units), and you’d be a winner. He could also have a more statistically unlikely performance and register 18 rebounds and 23 points (a total of 41 combined units), and you’d still win. The key is that the statistics being measured when added together must be either over or under the total the sportsbook assigns.  

You’ll also commonly see bets on points and assists, as well as rebounds and assists. The mechanics of these bets are identical to the above example, just with different combined units. How a player reaches (or doesn’t reach) the combined total isn’t important—it’s what the number is when they’re added together. 

It’s also possible to get even more creative, and bet on points scored assists, and rebounds. Always be sure to check the terms and conditions of your sportsbooks, but these bets are almost always functionally the same.

Player Over 40.5 points + rebounds Under 40.5 points + rebounds
Mavs Luka Doncic  40.5 (-110) 40.5 (-110)

3-pointers made props

3-pointer props are straightforward. They allow you to bet on the number of 3-point shots a player does or does not drain in the course of a game. It’s important to note that with 3-point props, you’re betting on the number of 3-pointers a player hits (i.e Fred VanVleet +/- 3.5), and not the actual points a player gets from hitting a 3-point shot.

In general, 3-pointer props are only available for big-name players.

Player Over Under
Rockets Fred VanVleet 3.5 (-110) 3.5 (-110)

Double-doubles and triple-doubles

Player prop bets also let you bet on whether a player will record a double-double (which is whether a player records 10 or more in two categories of points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocked shots). They also let you bet on whether a player records a triple-double, which is 10 or more in three of the aforementioned categories.

Betting on a double-double or triple-double is a Yes/No bet, with odds reflecting the probability of whether or not a specific player will record one or not.

Defensive props

Another major category of NBA player prop bets is for defensive statistics. You can wager on the number of steals or blocks a player registers in a game.

Additionally, it’s not uncommon to see defensive statistics combined (i.e., a bet on the total number of steals and blocks a player records). These bets function the same as the combined category bets mentioned above.

NBA team props

Team prop bets are nearly identical to player props, but they look at what a team as a whole does in a game, not just a single player.

Team props may allow you to bet on the total number of points a team scores within a single game (i.e., the Golden State Warriors going over or under 100.5 points). In such an instance, if you bet the Over, you’d be graded a winner if the Warriors netted 101 or more points. Of course, team props can also be linked to many other common in-game statistics, such as the total number of 3-point shots a team records in any given game.

It’s important to emphasize the crucial difference between player props and team props—in team props such as in the Warriors example above, anyone on the team can contribute to the total number of points or 3-point shots, not just a single player.

NBA game props

A game prop bet is functionally very similar to a team prop bet, but it pertains to events that take place within the entire game. Both teams and individual players can contribute to game props.  

In general, a game prop is linked to a statistical total (i.e., the number of total rebounds recorded in a game), or whether a specific event will happen (i.e., will a player be ejected for fouling out?)

NBA prop betting tips

Player props don’t always have their share of the limelight as compared to higher volume bets like the money line or the spread, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be profitable. Read on for a few strategies to keep in mind when you try your hand at NBA prop betting.

Develop expertise in certain statistics and categories

The sheer amount of information that the NBA produces can be daunting. There are so many storylines, 82 games in a year, and a ton of players. It can be intimidating to handicap, especially if you’re starting out.

Beginning with something with less variance and information involved within it than an entire game can be beneficial. For example, it’s much easier to develop a robust understanding of which players (or which team), excel in rebounding than it is to accurately forecast a winner or loser on a nightly basis.

Once you get a good grip on isolated stats or categories, you can start trying your hand at prop bets. As your understanding of the game grows from a probabilistic perspective, you can expand out into handicapping other prop betting areas.

Read, listen, and watch — research is critical

When it comes to prop betting, you should read, watch, and listen to as much as you can about the league as a whole, individual players, and teams. Don’t limit yourself to a single medium (i.e., Twitter, or a single podcast), a single commentator, or a single outlet.

Gain the widest variety of perspectives you can and consume that which you disagree with. Just because you’re not invested in NBA advanced statistics doesn’t mean that you can glean useful information from them. Expand your horizons.

The more information you ingest, the stronger and more broadly based your knowledge of the game will be. Additionally, there are always hidden tidbits about individual players and team performance (i.e. if a player’s performance has been suffering post a bout of Covid) that are in some sources, but not others. Ultimately, the more information you’re able to synthesize and integrate into your bets, the more accurate your predictions will be, and the bigger your bankroll becomes.

There’s an edge to be found in prop bets if you look closely enough

Sportsbooks employ oddsmakers gifted in probability. However, oddsmakers can’t dedicate the same amount of effect and time to every line with such exacting accuracy.  

Because sportsbooks don’t delve into the same degree of specificity for generating odds for each individual prop bet as they do regular lines like the moneyline or the spread, there’s value to capitalize on.  

Often, prop betting lines are generated based on basic readings of statistical profiles. As such, if you do your research (see the above tip!), it’s significantly easier to find an edge on your book than it is for a bet linked to the outcome of a game.

Know something about a player or team that you’re not seeing in the NBA prop bet odds at your sportsbook? Place your bet before it’s too late!

NBA betting tips and strategies

Make smarter NBA bets with Covers. These guides dive into other ways you can bet on NBA action:

NBA Point Spread Betting Tips and Strategies
NBA Moneyline Betting Tips and Strategies
NBA Parlay Betting Tips and Strategies
NBA Prop Betting Tips and Strategies
NBA Handicapping Tips and Strategies

NBA prop betting FAQs

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