Public NBA bettors love superstars, so they will make their betting decisions based largely on the reputations of the superstars on the court. Unless there is a significant reason to do so the public is very slow to adjust those reputations to reflect current reality. That means that if a superstar is slowing fading due to age the public isn’t likely to respond to that fading as quickly as they should. They could then be making betting decisions based more on what the player was capable of when he was younger than what he is actually capable of now. That can create an opportunity for sharp sports bettors if they can have a more accurate picture of what the player is currently capable of. Here are five factors to consider about an aging superstar when doing your NBA handicapping:
Are his stats diminishing? – This has to be the starting point – you have to know the effect that age is having on his game. Has his scoring production slowed? How about his rebounds? If he’s a point guard then how has his assist-to-turnover ratio held up? It’s crucially important when you are looking at the stats that you don’t look at raw numbers, but rather that you look at them in a comparable way – like points per minute played, for example. It’s quite possible, for example, that his raw scoring average per game has fallen by a few points, but the real cause of that is because he is playing fewer minutes, not because he is being less productive when he is playing. Perhaps his points per minute are just as good, or even better, than they were when he was in his prime and playing a lot of minutes. You also may be able to learn a lot about what the player is capable of by looking at different season splits. Is he as productive 50 games into the season as he was 5 games in when his legs were fresher? Is he more productive when he is sleeping in his own bed than when he is on the road? Is he better when he is fresh than when he is playing on consecutive nights? The more different ways you can look at the production of the star the more likely you are to find situations that you will be able to exploit when betting.
Is he making up for his diminishing production in other ways? – Sometimes a NBA player that is seeing his stats decline is making up for that loss of production in other ways. For example, maybe a scorer isn’t able to penetrate as effectively as he used to, but he is making up for that by becoming much more effective at distributing the ball and piling up assists. Or maybe a player that has lost speed has become better at finding position and pulling down offensive rebounds. A player could still be just as productive as he once was despite being a far different player.
How well does he know his system? – When a professional basketball player has been playing with the same coach and the same core around him for a long time then it can be relatively easy for him to make up for the effects of age. His familiarity can make it easier for him to skip practices to stay healthy, and it is so much easier to perform on the court in a system when you know it very well, and when you have faith that the people around will be where they need to be. When a NBA superstar has to adapt to a new coach or a new team, though, then the impact of his age could become more visible and more significant from a betting perspective.
Does he have to be the best player on his team? – There are some teams that are heavy reliant on their superstar, while other teams are more balanced and reliant on several players. The more balanced a team is the less significant the effects of age on the NBA superstar will be on the team because the more the other players will be able to pick up any slack. If a star is relied upon to drive everything that the team does, though, then his declining effectiveness could have a big impact on the team.
Is he a public favorite? – There are basketball players that drive betting decisions among the casual public bettors and players that don’t. The players that do influence the public are quite rare – the household names that are truly the biggest stars in the league. Those are the players that you need to be concerned about here. If a player isn’t high enough profile to cause public betting reactions by himself, though, then his declining production is only relevant in terms of the impact it has on his whole team.