NBA betting basics

Written by Sean Callander

WGM’s favorite sports betting guru provides some insight into basic NBA betting strategy and key factors to look for.

The popularity of NBA betting is spreading through the region quicker than John Wall on a fast break, or LaVar Ball chasing down a reporter with a microphone. For the period 2014-16, betting on US sports grew by 115 percent internationally with the bulk of that growth coming in the NBA.

American football may remain the main course for US bettors but the NBA outstrips its other domestic competitors on a global scale by a factor of almost 2:1. And recognizing the appetite for NBA and the scheduling advantage due to time differences, the number of NBA games being broadcast regionally across Asia has skyrocketed.

Why so popular? It ticks the boxes of most sports in offering traditional moneyline, handicap and game total markets and provides great scope for futures and outright betting across the long 82-game regular season schedule. These markets are also broken down by quarters and halves within games. Player props are widely available and extremely popular.

Seasoned NBA punters know there are numerous variants that should be considered to find an edge. Due to the speed and intensity at which games are played and the length of the season, injuries are frequent and squad rotation is common practice in the NBA.

With just five players on the court, the impact of a superstar like LeBron James or Russell Westbrook being seated can be stark. To stay on top of news related to injuries and players that may be rested, follow individual club Twitter accounts, noticeboards and forums as they’ll generally publish any crucial information ahead of the mainstream US sports media.

While all teams play the same number of games in the regular season (and play each team at least once), the NBA has an asymmetrical structure that means individual team schedules can vary greatly in terms of the strength of opposition. The volume of games each team plays also means the impact of road games is arguably bigger than in other sports.

A longer schedule introduced for this season means teams no longer have to play the dreaded four games in five days but can still play four road games in a row, all in different time zones. At least the advent of Tinder means players can organize their nocturnal activities without crawling the nightclubs while on the road!

Like all major sports, treat team and individual stats with caution. As a rule, steer clear of the most touted stat categories unless they are placed into the correct context. For instance, raw field-goal percentage can be skewed by numerous factors. Offensive and defensive efficiency scored or allowed per 100 possessions is a far more accurate indicator of performance as different teams play at different speeds.

Another major quirk in the NBA is the clear existence of tanking. Teams will conspire to lose games, thus improving their chances of securing the best talent in the draft. This is a superstar-driven league and the importance of the best player is worth short and medium-term pain for longer-term gain. The Philadelphia 76ers and Minnesota Timberwolves are starting to bear the fruit of such a strategy.

As with all forms of sports betting, ensure you have appropriate bankroll strategies in place, always chase the best possible price and understand the concept of value when making NBA wagers. Gamble responsibly and enjoy the experience of watching one of the most popular and exciting sports on the face of the planet.