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NBA Futures Betting Special: LeBron, Luka Solid Bets on the Under

Will Barrett Score More for Knicks?

Last week, we looked at some NBA player stats props that focused only on rebounds and assists. A slew of scoring figures have since popped up, offering several more from which to choose. As we get into the season and injuries pile up, perhaps some NBA second-half lines will emerge for these players, but for now, let’s highlight a few we think are worth a bet online.

RJ Barrett – Over 19½ Points Per Game (-115)

He’s topped this number each of the last two seasons, although just barely in 2022-23. We think there’s a chance for a slight uptick for a guy who’s still just 23 and refining his game on that end of the floor.

NBA Futures Betting Special: LeBron, Luka Solid Bets on the Under
LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers | Ronald Martinez/Getty Images/AFP

Barrett saw his field-goal percentage leap to 43.4 last season from 40.8 in 2021-22 when he scored a career-high 20.0 points per game. He did so with a sizable improvement closer to the basket, making 53.2% of his shots from 10 feet in.

That number soared to 64.2% inside of three feet, up from 59.6% the season before. In conjunction, his FG% with defenders tight (0-2 feet) was a very solid 47.9%, way up from 33.9%.

These are all indications of a guy who’s learning how to use his body in traffic and score in different ways. Yes, he clunked plenty of 3-pointers and sometimes disappeared in fourth quarters last season, but those areas will see improvement as well as he gains more experience and continues to refine that short and mid-range game.

Barrett averaged 20.3 points over the final 15 games of the regular season. After a rough start to the playoffs, he had an eight-game run against Cleveland and Miami – two of the better defensive teams in the league – in which he posted 22.5 per night while shooting 50%.

He won’t win any scoring titles anytime soon, and Barrett will frustrate itchy Knicks fans from time to time, but he’s one of the best basketball NBA picks to lift the scoring average this season.

NBA PICK: RJ Barrett – Points Per Game

Kyle Kuzma – Over 21½ Points Per Game (-120)

Kuzma projects a vibe in which he wants – and expects to be – the man in Washington (or whatever system he’s in). He’ll get more of an opportunity to be that kind of figure this year with the Wizards, who saw both Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis leave this offseason.

Sure, Jordan Poole is in the mix, but he’s a streaky guy, and there will be plenty of points to be had for a guy like Kuzma, who averaged a career-high 21.2 points last season. That figure is up from 17.1 the season before and 12.9 in 2020-21, so the trajectory is well in your favor if you include this wager with your NBA picks.

The percentage of baskets on which Kuzma is assisted has fallen precipitously throughout his career, an indication of a guy learning to score on his own. That’s led to more opportunities in that short to mid-range area, mostly inside of 10 feet. He hits on nearly 60% of his shots in that realm, so more volume there will yield more points, and he’s getting to the line more each season.

Kuzma had a slow start last season before averaging 22.0 points over his final 54 games, which is pretty much a full season for most NBAers these days. That should translate well over a larger (slightly) sample size.

NBA PICK: Kyle Kuzma – Points Per Game

Luka Doncic – Under 31½ Points Per Game (-115)

To begin with, 31½ is a big number. Doncic will hit that mark many times, but consistently scoring that many points over the course of an 82-game slate is a tough bet.

For starters, Doncic never averaged more than 30 points per game until last season, when he put up 32.4. He was often the lone threat for an underwhelming Mavericks squad until Kyrie Irving came along.

With Irving by his side, Doncic averaged 30.6 points per game throughout 16 games. That’s still very good, and it included three games of 40 or more, but that’s still nearly a point below paydirt in a bet online such as this.

Irving has averaged at least 26.9 points each of the last four seasons. We expect Doncic to distribute more this season and have just enough 22-point and 19-point nights to make 31½ a steep hill to climb. Consider that when conducting some NBA online betting.

LeBron James – Under 27½ Points Per Game (-130)

For starters, James has scored more than 27½ points per game just twice in the past 13 seasons. Okay, so those two times were in each of the last two seasons, but it is worth noting that he hasn’t hit that kind of a mark all that much since the early high-flying days in Cleveland.

Much of James’ bump in scoring with the Lakers is because, after him and a sometimes healthy Anthony Davis, there haven’t been a ton of great scoring options. Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Russell Westbrook, maybe D’Angelo Russell – those are the kind of names that make up the third wheel in LA the past few seasons.

Davis is healthy (for now), and there are a ton of quality scorers on the 2023-24 roster. Russell, Austin Reaves and Christian Wood can all put up in the high teens each night if given the minutes.

After the Lakers made a series of moves last season in a successful push to the playoffs, James was less of a factor. Of course, he was out for much of the stretch run, but when in there after the All-Star break, he averaged 24.1 points while shooting 45.8%.

As he enters his 21st season, James is still a massive force. He’ll fill the box score on many occasions. But so, too, will some of his teammates and getting that scoring average into the high 20s again might be a challenge.

NBA PICK: LeBron James – Points Per Game

Take a look at the NBA betting lines and consider the under here.


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