When making an NBA pick, most people look at team points per game or how many points they are allowing per game. These numbers can be somewhat misleading without looking at other advanced stats.
For starters, a team’s points per game are dictated a lot by pace, or how many possessions a team averages in a 48 minute game. The same can be said about how many points a certain team is giving up.
So, with that being said, I am here to help you with Sharp’s Advanced Statistics 101. These are some of the most important advanced stats you can use in handicapping the NBA, and they all hold different levels of importance in difference scenarios.
Pace is one of the most important stats you can use when trying to handicap your NBA picks, especially when it comes to game and team totals. Pace is a stat that measures how fast a team plays, or how many possessions they average in a 48-minute game. For instance, the Kings played at an extremely fast pace this season of 100 possessions per 48 minutes. The sportsbooks recognized this and had their totals sky high most of the season, but it took a little while for them to catch on. They opened the season cashing the over in five of their first six games, and they had a stretch where they cashed the over in 18 of 26 games from the start of 2016 to around the end of February.
In fact, if you look at some of the top teams in pace this season, there is a correlation between a faster pace and cashing the over. Teams like Philadelphia, Houston and New Orleans were all three in the top ten in the league in pace, and all three combined to cash the over at 133-105-3 on the season.
You can take the same into account for slower paced teams, but the correlation is even stronger. Utah, New York, Miami and San Antonio were four of the top five under cashing teams in the league this season, and were both in the bottom five pace teams. If you include Miami and San Antonio’s playoff totals, these four teams cash the under at a combined record of 200-143-6. That’s a cash rate of 58.2 percent. Defense plays a factor (or lack thereof) as well, but pace is a great way to help your total betting.
Offensive and Defensive Rating
Speaking of offense and defense, a much better way to look at a team’s performance is their Offensive and Defensive Ratings. Instead of looking at a basic measure of a team’s points per game scored or allowed, ORtg and DRtg are both estimates of how many points a team or player produces per 100 possessions. So, it takes into account things like pace, and doesn’t discriminate against teams who play at a slower or faster pace.
For instance, this season the top ORtg team in the league was almost obviously the Golden State Warriors. They had an ORtg of 114.5, but what was even more impressive was their DRtg of 103.8, which ranked them 6th in the league in that department as well. There were only six teams that ranked in the top ten in ORtg and DRtg this season, and those six teams have a combined ATS record of 277-252-9 if you include their playoff ATS records as well. So, when you are looking at team’s and how they stack up, use these advanced stats instead of just points per game and points allowed, and it will give you a better idea of how they matchup against one another.
Advanced Stats for Player Props
This could literally be a whole other article, because there are about a million things you can look at when betting player props. However the most important really depend on what type of player props you are looking at.
For instance, you can use a player’s points per game average when looking at the over/under NBA odds for points in a game, but an even better stat to look at is Usage Rate. Usage is a formula used to measure how many plays a certain player is used on throughout a game. You can find the formula on Basketball Reference, but a high Usage Rate usually means that player is going to have the ball in his hands and be shooting a lot.
You can also use ORtg and DRtg for specific players as well, but what about a rebounding or assists prop? Instead of using their raw rebounds or assists per game, (still important, but can be misleading) look for their Assist and Rebounding Rates instead. These measure how many assists or rebounds a certain player gets while he is on the floor. So it only takes into account how many assists or rebounds were available while that player was on the floor, and it is much more accurate.
For instance, while on the floor this postseason, Russell Westbrook has an assist rate of 54 percent, which is leading all players this postseason. If you take the amount of field goals the Thunder are averaging per game, and then divide that total by Westbrooks’s minutes, you can get a better, more accurate estimate of how many field goals Westbrook is assisting on while in the game. It takes some math, but a little math to make some money never hurt anyone!