Like most Thursdays, tonight’s NBA slate is a small one, featuring only five games. But as always, we have scoured the major betting agencies to bring you some great plays for the slate on offer this Thursday. Check out our best pick and value pick below and good luck to everyone following!
NBA Picks – Thursday, January 16th
Utah Jazz @ New Orleans Pelicans
Smoothie King Center, 8.00pm ET
It seems likely that the Utah Jazz, winners of ten consecutive games and the hottest team in the NBA right now, will win tonight’s game. Earlier in the season, they were struggling offensively and looked little like the competitive team of the last couple of years, even after the big addition of Bojan Bogdanovic in the frontcourt. But the trade of the unwanted and little-used Dante Exum to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for the scoring talent of Clarkson has addressed that, balanced the team and provided an important scoring boost that has restarted this season.
More pertinent than what Clarkson does is how he does it. The great frustration in his game over the years has been the overly aggressive isolation-heavy style in which he has played, always looking for his own basket, rarely looking for scoring opportunity for others, and not passing much. That has always been a problem, and it still is. However, as these Jazz are constructed, with Mike Conley absent due to long-term injury, someone other than Donovan Mitchell has to be able to do this. Exum couldn’t; Clarkson can. He is relatively dependable, too, having posted essentially exactly the same season for five years in a row. And in his time for Utah so far, Clarkson has averaged the 15 points per game that we need him to score tonight.
New Orleans are also improving as the season goes on, but they will come in tonight missing both parts of their starting backcourt of Jrue Holiday and J.J. Redick. The former is a particularly big absence with regards to our bet here, as, in being one of the best guard defenders in the league, a healthy and active Holiday might see us slightly less enthusiastic for a big night for Clarkson.
Without their fringe All-Star guard, though, and with Zion Williamson still not ready to return for another week , it is very difficult to find any path to victory for New Orleans tonight. Given that they are already a weak defensive team that play at one of the league’s highest paces, there should be plenty of scoring opportunities out there for any ball-handler who can attack them at what will tonight be a weak defensive point. Clarkson is that guy.
Player Double – Lou Williams (L.A. Clippers) and Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz)
Continuing on from the above, for the same reason that Jordan Clarkson might have a good game tonight, so might Mitchell ahead of him.
Although Mitchell has improved as a decision-maker and play-maker this season, his assist totals have still been left wanting in large part because, aside from lobs to Rudy Gobert on the roll and passes to Bogdanovic in the corners, his team have not had regular weapons for him to find. The addition of Clarkson, though, opens up the court, and so even though Clarkson as an individual still prefers to do everything off his own dribble – thus creating no assist opportunities – the Quin Snyder side-to-side offence works better with shooters on both sides, which he now offers.
Williams by contrast is averaging a career-high in assists per game this season, even though it is his fifteenth year in the NBA. The uber-Clarkson has been sharing the ball more regularly this year even as his shooting has vacillated – with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the team, he would be a fool not to. William still has a tendency to throw passes into the car park at times, career-long traits that he seems unlikely to lose now, but given that his Clippers team are very heavily favoured tonight over a fairly average Orlando Magic team – which should mean more minutes for the bench if the game is not too close – he should be considered more likely to hit his part of this double than Mitchell.
It is an ambitious double, as evidenced by the value and the money line. But it is foreseeable, and the rewards could be high.
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