Finding early season upsets in the NBA
by Wayne Root
This is my first chance to talk about the NBA this season. Part of the reason I wanted to delay my first post is because I didn't want to remind oddsmakers about the strategies that always make my clients so much money! But, now that we're a couple of weeks in, the market has had a chance to adjust to teams who have turned out to be much better or much worse than expected.
You see, early season NBA (and college hoops coming up) is a dream world for underdog bettors like WAYNE ALLYN ROOT. You regulars know I don't bet 100% underdogs. But, my action is heavily shaded in that direction because that's where the value lies. Oddsmakers are constantly giving away free points because too many bettors bet too many favorites. Here's a quick list of why "upset calls" and underdog value bets can be so potent right out of the gate.
The best teams are PACING themselves!
NBA powers want to be ready for the playoffs in the spring. There's no reason to bring peak intensity right off the bat. Yet, oddsmakers price playoff teams as powers all the time. There's not a "November" rating vs. a "Playoff" rating for the best teams. They're always priced like elites. That offers consistent value generally, and specific value in games where you know they'll be going at three-quarter speed while fired up opponents will be going all out. Finding those situations is how I make headlines!
The best teams are RUSTY and/or EXPERIMENTING
That rustiness was a big deal in the opening days. I hope you took advantage. Teams are getting sharper now after having several games in the books. But, we're still seeing a lot of head coaches experimenting with new lineups, new rotations, new styles of attack, and other elements that keep teams from playing at their best. Again, everyone's aiming to be at their best in the postseason. It takes awhile to learn new offensive plays or defensive rotations. That means early season sluggishness for teams who are priced as perpetually sharp.
The WORST teams are still PLAYING HARD
None of the bad teams have thrown in the towel yet. None are exhausted. Malcontents don't hate each other now the way they will in January and February. That means the relative doormats of the NBA won't be playing like doormats in these early weeks. Sure, there will be some ugly outings here and there. But, the distance from best to worst in the league is smaller now than it will be later because both ends of the spectrum have squeezed toward the middle. Great teams aren't great yet. Bad teams may be 4-5 points better in Power Ratings right now than they'll be once the drudgery of the full season sets in.
If you'd like to be on the right side of the equation for the next several weeks, I suggest taking the following actions.
Study ATS results with an eye on favorite/dog breakdowns
Create Power Ratings based on real results, not on what you think "should" be happening
Find which playoff contenders relax during back-to-back's on the schedule
Find non-contenders who have hustling benches
Study injury reports so you know which "stars" are hobbled and likely to coast