Applying Points Differential Stats For Successful NBA Picks

Jason Lake

Saturday, November 19, 2016 3:09 PM UTC

Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016 3:09 PM UTC

Anyone can see the Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves belong in your NBA picks. All you need to do is look at the standings – and those sexy point differentials.

Hey, check it out: We're already past the 10-game mark of the NBA regular season. How are things going so far? Well, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors are both crushing it – while posting unprofitable ATS records. Not much of a surprise there; anytime you put a public team like that in your NBA picks, you're risking a giant mouthful of chalk.

If you're looking for betting value, and we know you are, you'll often find it with the rebuilding programs who are on the cusp of success. The Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves were easy targets going into the 2016-17 campaign. They should have even more value now, after getting off to a somewhat unfortunate start.

Growing Pains

One of the easiest ways to suss out value is to look at the NBA standings, then compare the win-loss records to the point differentials for each team. The latter carries a lot more predictive power than the former, and the larger the gap, the more value we can expect. As it turns out, there are two teams sticking out like a sore thumb:

Utah: 7-6 SU, 6-7 ATS, +2.8
Minnesota: 4-7 SU and ATS, +3.8

My goodness. The Jazz are hanging in there, which is impressive enough given the absence of big man Derrick Favors (knee) and new point guard George Hill (finger). But their point differential translates to a Pythagorean record of 8-5. And the Timberwolves “should” be even better at 7-4. Three of their seven losses were by four points or fewer; each of their four wins was a blowout.

Of these two teams, the Wolves figure to have more upside on the NBA odds board. All those years of failure landed them two No. 1 overall picks in SG Andrew Wiggins and center Karl-Anthony Towns, and both are playing at an All-Star level under new head coach Tom Thibodeau – although Wiggins (–4.1 DBPM) could still use some work on his defense. If point guard Ricky Rubio can stay healthy, Minnesota might already be a playoff team: FiveThirtyEight gives the Wolves a 51-percent chance of making the postseason and 91-percent for Utah. Get on the bandwagon now while tickets are cheap.

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