NBA picks, best bets: Take Zion props in Pelicans-Nets; Karl-Anthony Towns will have a huge night vs. OKC

Technically, opening night is in the books. The Celtics beat the 76ers. The Warriors beat the Lakers. But is the season really “open” when 26 teams have yet to play? Wednesday is the true opening night, the one in which the majority of NBA teams play their first games and we have our first traditional, cramped slate of the season.

You know what that means. With a full schedule on our hands, there are profit opportunities galore. While we won’t cover every single game, we’ll jump around and hit on five of my favorite bets on Wednesday night’s schedule.

All lines via Caesar’s Sportsbook

Latest Odds:

New Orleans Pelicans

Keep an eye out for Zion Williamson props. The books have been slow getting those up thus far, and they would be my preference here, but in any case, the logic applies to the spread as well. Williamson is perhaps the NBA‘s best interior scorer. Brooklyn has perhaps the worst interior defense in the NBA, and that is going to be amplified with the absence of Seth Curry and Joe Harris. While neither of them would offer any resistance to Williamson, having them would at least allow for slightly more comfortable usage of traditional big men next to Ben Simmons. Without them, Brooklyn will be forced to sacrifice either space or rim-protection. Either bodes well for New Orleans. The pick: Pelicans +3

Latest Odds:

Indiana Pacers

We need to separate what we think Indiana will be in March with what it is right now. Eventually, we assume the Pacers will trade their veterans and tank. Vegas has leaned into that by giving the Pacers the Eastern Conference’s lowest projected win total. Right now, Myles Turner and Buddy Hield are still here. Tyrese Haliburton is healthy and awesome. Rick Carlisle is one of the NBA’s best coaches. There just isn’t a good reason for the Wizards to be road favorites over anybody right now. If you want to bet against the Pacers, do so in season-long formats. Right now? These are two uninspiring but far from horrific teams. One of them is at home and getting points. The pick: Pacers +2

This line is slightly deflated because Karl-Anthony Towns put up lackluster stats against Oklahoma City last season. In four games, he never topped 20 points, but the Timberwolves won three of those games by 30 or more points. This game figures to be a bit more competitive, and if it is, Towns will get to play his typical minutes against … Jeremiah Robinson-Earl? Darius Bazley? Aleksej Pokusevski? The Thunder have no proven big defenders anywhere on this roster. Towns is among the NBA’s best big scorers. He should have a field day. The pick: Towns over 22.5 points

Latest Odds:

Over 226

I’m a bit perplexed by this line. The Lakers and Warriors opened the season Tuesday, and their over/under line got as high as 227 before falling in the buildup to tip. The Warriors were the NBA’s No. 2 defense last season. The Lakers were No. 1 the season before that. The Kings and Blazers are expected to score less, but they ranked 27th and 29th in defense last season, respectively. Before you suggest Portland’s ranking last season should be disregarded because the Blazers were tanking, they ranked 29th in 2021 as well when they made the playoffs. Both of these defenses remain quite bad. This line is a few points too low. The pick: Over 226

I’m keeping an eye on Tre Jones props as the early season progresses. Vegas is still adjusting to him being San Antonio’s only point guard, and while the point and assist props are too high for my taste, I like the idea of Jones making at least a single 3-pointer. While he’s shot badly as a professional, he was roughly a 36 percent 3-point shooter in his final Duke season on nearly four attempts per game. As a primary ball-handler for San Antonio, he’s going to have to fire away, and the Hornets aren’t good enough defensively to stop him. The pick: Jones over 0.5 made 3-pointers

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