There are numerous factors and stats that you can choose to consider when making NBA predictions, but the inherent difficulty is ensuring they are useful enough that your bets are consistently accurate and thus make a profit. This article will look at what data is available for the NBA and it can help with your betting.
What are the difficulties in NBA betting?
No matter what sport you are betting on, it is not an easy thing to master. There are varying degrees of complexity, randomness, luck, and skill capable of influencing outcomes, as well as a broad spectrum of markets that you can place bets on. However, basketball’s simplistic and fast-paced nature makes it not only an engaging sport to watch, but also one that provides viable betting avenues and strategies that can ultimately assist you in trying to make a profit.
There are various markets to choose from when betting on the NBA, with the most popular including Money Line, Handicap, Totals, and Futures. Different markets entail varying levels of complexities for making predictions and as a consequence, some are more popular than others.
When betting on an NBA match, there are obvious factors you should bear in mind, such as injuries and rotation. The high intensity of NBA games coupled with its 82-game regular season means that rosters and line-ups can change significantly between each match, which has an inevitable impact on a team’s chances of success.
There is also the important consideration as to whether a specified team may be ‘tanking’. The NBA draft system means that teams who finish lower in their conference get a higher priority pick of the best college talent in the following draft, so often it is the case that a team who is out of postseason contention will deliberately seek to finish as low as possible in a bid to secure a future competitive advantage. This can obviously have a direct impact on their level of performance, which means it is imperative to consider when trying to predict how they might perform in a given game.
What data can be used to make NBA predictions?
There are various metrics that bettors can use to get ahead of the curve and inform their decision-making process when betting on the NBA. At the most basic level, you can look at a team’s win-loss record, as well as their recent form and head-to-head record against specific opponents.
There are also individual player stats, which can help you more acutely assess which team’s players are stronger. There are numerous metrics that can be used to track a player’s performance, including (but not restricted to):
- PTS = Points
- AST = Assists
- OREB = Offensive Rebounds and DREB = Defensive Rebounds
- STL = Steals
- BLK = Blocks
- TO = Turnovers and TO% = Turnover percentage
- FGM = Field Goals Made and FG% = Field Goals Percentage
- 3FGM = Three-point Field Goals Made and 3FG% = Three-point Field Goals Percentage
While this data provides a good place to start for making NBA predictions, it is unlikely to yield any specific value in the betting market, where bookmakers and other bettors will be presumably utilising more in-depth metrics. Below are some examples of advanced data that can also help you in informing your NBA predictions.
Floor Impact Counter (FIC)
Bettors may opt to use FIC as a primary means to inform their evaluation of a player, as this metric groups together every statistic from a player’s box score and condenses it into a single unit to analyse how effective they are. Knowing how to calculate FIC and what to look out for when using this metric is imperative for an informed NBA betting strategy. To learn more about it, you can read our article on the benefits of using FIC in NBA betting.
Three-point shot stats
Three-point shots are continuing to have a growing impact on deciding NBA matches, as reflected by the fact that they have risen by almost 30% during the last 40 years. Positonless players who don’t fall into an immediately specified role are increasingly adding the three-point shot to their arsenal, meaning they are becoming more capable of deciding games single-handedly.
On top of that, the most successful teams in the NBA tend to have a higher 3FG% compared to those ranked lower down. For instance, the Golden State Warriors relied heavily on three-point shots during their title win in 2018, as they boasted the highest 3FG% in the NBA with 38.3%. Conversely, the Phoenix Suns, the worst-ranked team that year, had the league-low 3FG% of 33.4%.
Therefore, identifying which teams are particularly proficient at three-point shots can be a viable avenue to pursue, especially when betting on Totals markets. The obvious approach here is to look at a player or team’s stats for three-point shots, although it can also be just as beneficial to review this from a defensive perspective and assess which teams are more prone to conceding them. This can help you identify a mismatch and take advantage.
A turnover is an event when a player gives the ball away to the opposition via a poor pass, foul, stepping out of bounds, travelling, violating the shot clock or having it stolen. If a player has a high TO%, this is broadly considered to be a negative reflection of their ability, although it is also worth bearing in mind that some of the best players in the NBA such as Russell Westbrook and LeBron James record high TO% rates simply due to how much they handle the ball.
Human error affects everyone, even the best players, so by the law of averages if a player has the ball more than others (perhaps because he is the chief creator, shot taker or overall best player) they are more likely to have a higher TO% because they will face more opportunities to make errors.
As long as a player still records encouraging metrics elsewhere, a high TO% doesn’t necessarily make them a bad player – instead, it may actually highlight how important they are to their team and the extent to which the team’s chances of victory rely on that individual having the ball.
Pace Factor is a metric that measures the number of possessions a team has during a game, and in turn, the pace at which the match is being played. A team with lots of possessions will have more chances to score, but will also likely surrender more chances to their opponents, whereas a team with fewer possessions will score less frequently, but presumably also give their opponents fewer opportunities to do so as well.
However, the important consideration is that having more or fewer possessions per game isn’t key, but rather what you do with them. It is thus equally crucial to review a team’s offensive efficiency in order to gauge if they do not require much of the ball in order to put themselves in a commanding position during a match.
What else should you consider for NBA betting?
As per many other sports, home court advantage tends to play an active role in basketball. Aside from the motivational benefits of playing in front of a largely supportive crowd, the home team will also be more accustomed to the size and specifications of their court, making it easier to both plan and practice offensive and defensive plays in home fixtures.
Twitter can be a valuable source for breaking NBA information.
Away teams may also have to contend with travel fatigue, which can adversely affect their stamina and energy levels. With this in mind, it is important to review a team’s schedule and identify when they have a particularly long stretch of successive home or away matches.
As mentioned, the NBA also features a physically demanding 82-game regular season which means that every team is faced with the constant inherent risks of injury and fatigue. This is particularly the case when teams play on consecutive nights, on occasion with four games in the space of five days, meaning it is worth remembering that busy periods of the season can easily have a detrimental impact on a team’s performances.
Finally, while social media is saturated with people posting their opinions on upcoming games, which are likely to feature widely varying levels of reliability and research, it can still be a helpful source of information. Following experienced basketball writers, stats providers, and official team accounts will assist you in keeping up to date with the latest news and information that can prove essential in adding value to your bets.
With line-ups and team news being crucial in determining which team is likely to win a match or how many points might be scored, being one of the first to learn of someone being rested or injured could give you a crucial advantage against other bettors. You can check out our list of the best NBA Twitter accounts for basketball betting.
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