The NBA season is less than a month away and one of the biggest questions surrounding the league this abbreviated season is load management. The trend has caught steam in recent seasons and with training camp starting so close to the end of last year’s NBA Finals, we could see a lot more rest coming for the league in general, but especially the two stars on the defending champion, Lakers.
Winter Load Management Is Coming
Once the NBA and the players agreed on starting the new season December 22, the first thought that came to my mind was load management. It’s going to be incredibly hard to deal with as a bettor and fantasy sports player, but it’s probably for the best. There is a VERY limited amount of time for the teams who went deep into the playoffs to get rested and ready for training camp, which starts December 1. We don’t need any more stars getting injured, especially after what has happened to Klay Thompson.
That could lead to a lot of teams with veterans employing some very liberal load management. With little to no fans in the stands this upcoming season, one of the mains excuses for the league to want to limit stars resting is no longer there, at least for now.
However, if we have some plans in place like being glued to Twitter and not locking in bets on teams playing in tight schedule windows, that may help us avoid losing money on bad beats that were brought on by not having enough information on a team’s available players that night.
A good example of this is going to be the Lakers. LeBron James will turn 36 years-old a little more than a week into the new season and considering his running-mate, Anthony Davis is somewhat injury-prone, the Lakers (and bettors) will need to have a plan going into the year for how to bet on the Lakers in the age of load management.
How Much Will James and Davis Rest?
This is a pretty big unknown for about two dozen players around the league, starting with James and Davis. The 72-game season has 14 back-to-back games and James’ advanced age and heavy toll on his body throughout last season, I could see the Lakers resting in in all, or nearly all of those games. Plus, there is only nine weeks between their final NBA Finals game and the start of training camp.
That could mean resting James on the front or back halves of all back-to-backs. You’ll have to look at what opponents the Lakers are playing on certain dates (more on that in a minute). If they are playing a non-playoff team one night, followed by a better team the next night, you can almost lock in that James and/or Davis will be resting on the front half game.
They could also just announce that James or Davis will take the next two or three games off in a row. We’ll be better able to analyze this once the season comes out, but you can bet that once the schedule comes out, the Lakers staff will begin to devise a plan on limiting their two stars’ minutes. Make sure you take that into account when betting games that involve the Lakers and a few other teams with veterans who logged heavy playoff minutes in the bubble.
How To Bet On Games and Teams With Obvious Load Management Plans
Load Management may seem like this crazy and daunting variable hanging over your potential bets this season and, in some way, this is true. If load management and resting players is more covert and out of nowhere like in the past, that could make any NBA bettor think twice before placing game wagers this season.
However, where there is uncertainty, there can also be value. You just have to know where to look. The best way to make money on what could be a wild NBA regular season is to follow these steps.
This one is true for all handicapping and betting, but for the 2020-21 NBA season, this is going to be especially important. Between Covid-19, load management, and general NBA tomfoolery, we’re going to have plenty of surprises when it comes to personnel availability on almost every night.
This is going to be especially true early in the season. Plus, by the time we’re into the second half, who knows how many of these games will have been postponed due to coronavirus, meaning there might be even more back-to-backs and tight schedule windows than we know about right now. Look Ahead at the Schedule
This is also true for the NBA when it comes to motivation against certain teams or opponents, but with load management expected to be ramped up this season, make sure you look ahead at opponents and potential matchups with other players.
This could help you make better decisions on when players will definitely rest or definitely play. Make sure you know what a team’s games look like on a given week ahead when making an early-day bet.
Bet More Props
My favorite part of the steps to make money during the 2020-21 NBA load management season is betting on player props. If you’ve bet on the NBA longer than a week you’ll know that most teams are not very transparent when it comes to resting their players. Watching the official injury report during the day can make you a lot of money because news of players being ruled (or possibly ruled) out during the day can come with little announcement or fanfare until someone notices.
I can’t tell you how much money I’ve netted in the past by just being quicker than the top sportsbooks on betting props. My favorite nights are betting on Khris Middleton when Giannis Antetokounmpo is ruled out. There will be nights like this almost daily with a number of teams this season. Being able to quickly lock in an over bet on a star’s points when his counterpart is ruled out is a surefire way to make a lot of money and/or get banned by a sportsbook.