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NBA betting: Analyzing player performance

Written by WGM

What factors impact player performance and just how valuable are the NBA’s superstars? When it comes to NBA betting, the results might surprise you.

In March 2017, a story appeared in ESPN Magazine’s analytics issue that made for essential reading. The crux of the piece was the staggering change in performance over the past two decades by NBA teams playing away from home. In the 1987-88 season, home teams won more than two-thirds (67.9 per cent to be exact) of games, boasting an average winning margin of 5.8 points, the highest on record.

But in less than a decade, that home-court advantage gap had been sliced in half. By 1996-97, home teams won only 57.5 per cent of the time, by an average margin of only 2.6 points. After hovering around 60 per cent for most of the 2000s, home court advantage is now firmly entrenched in the high 50s (it fell as low as 57.4 in 2016-17). What the hell?

There are a handful of reasons for this – players are “imbibing” less than ever, they travel in a standard of luxury normally associated with first-class travel and referees have become more attuned to coping with the boos of home fans. But as one NBA General Manager highlighted, the main reason is the “Tinderization” of the NBA.

Players no longer need to leave the team hotel to find a party. The party comes to you. The NBA road life is simply more efficient – and less tiring – when hours are not spent trolling nightclubs looking for companionship. Who are we to judge how players spend their down-time!

But as punters, this revelation regarding such nocturnal activities presented a massive opportunity as road teams went on a historically rich run of results.

Of course, stories such as this are proverbial needles in a stack of needles, but the gradual addition of such weapons are essential in the punter’s endless war with the bookies. There are plenty of resources out there that regularly run well considered and logical articles on analytics and we recommend a sizeable time investment to help build your knowledge of the game.

And perhaps, more importantly, such research will help you break down pre-conceived notions and widelyaccepted fables that will dent your bankroll just as effectively. One such area in which we’ve been dabbling over recent seasons is the true value of the NBA’s superstars – just how much does the absence of a LeBron James or a Steph Curry impact their respective outfits.

In the case of the latter, it hardly matters at all. The Golden State Warriors are rated (net) an 11.4-point better side with Curry, who missed 13 games in the first half of the 2017-18 season, on the floor. But the bookies barely move the line when Curry is seated thanks to the presence of a ready-made replacement in Kevin Durant. The Warriors were 10-3 straight up (5-8 ATS) without Curry through the first half of this season and we estimate their line movement with Curry sidelined to be as little as two points

Casual punters who think the absence of Curry is worth more than a handful of points have burned their cash before the opening buzzer. Even James’ net value of between five and seven points falls well below the expectation of most punters as do those of Giannis Antekounmpo (six points), James Harden (five points), Kawhi Leonard (five points) and Russell Westbrook (four points).

Like a night in an exclusive club with an NBA “player” drinking US$500 bottles of Grey Goose, the wrong  decisions quickly become very expensive!