NBA player prop betting is getting more and more popular. There are several different types of player props that are available to bet depending on the book you use. While expert NBA bettors know that each type of bet obviously needs to be looked at slightly differently there is, at the core, similarities between all player prop bets. That means that there are some things that are important to consider regardless of the specific type of sports bet you are making. Here are six things to keep in mind when making winning player prop wagers.
Look past the names – NBA oddsmakers know that some players have bigger names than others, and they take advantage of that whenever they can when they are setting the pairings and prices for player props. The problem, though, is that the pro basketball players with the biggest names are not always the players who are performing the best right now. Reputations often outlast the effectiveness of a player on the hardwood, so you can get in real trouble if you are using the name as the criteria for choosing your bets. It is very important that you ignore the names of the players and look just at what they are doing now, what you can reasonably expect from them in their next game, and how they match up with the player they are paired against in the prop bet.
Look at recent form – Player prop bets are one place where ‘what have you done for me lately on the court?’ is a very important question. It doesn’t matter if one guard has significantly outscored or one forward has out-rebounded the player they are matched up against over the course of their career if they aren’t regularly doing the same now. The time frame you choose will be different for every bettor. Some people I know only look back at the last three games, while others will look back at 20 NBA games or more. It doesn’t really matter as long as you are consistent and you feel you are getting a good picture of what the player is currently capable of – not what they used to be capable of, or what they are capable of when they are playing their best. Using a short time frame can also help you find players who are currently performing at a level higher than we have come to expect from them. Smart NBA handicappers know if the player can keep their hot streak going, and if that hot streak is happening under the radar, then the gambler will be able to cash in if they can spot it happening.
Matchups are key – Once you get a sense of what a NBA player is capable of you need to take a very close look at the team they will be playing against. If a player is an outside shooter who finds the hoop often then you would obviously have higher expectations for him against a team with no three point defense to speak of than you would against a team of relentlessly effective defenders. Who a player is playing and how they will be able to perform in the arena against that team is an often overlooked aspect of player prop betting, and paying close attention to those matchups is perhaps the best possible way to find consistent value in making these bets.
How healthy is the player? – It doesn’t matter what a professional basketball player is capable of if he isn’t healthy enough to play at or near his best. You need to be aware of how healthy a player is when you are handicapping these props. You can’t just settle for looking at injury reports, either – players could be effected if they are banged up, and that may not show up on an injury report. Sources like game recaps, fan forums, and practice reports can give you a good sense of how players are actually feeling and what that might mean for the player. If the injury isn’t covered by the national media but you can uncover it then you could uncover some very nice value when making NBA player prop bets.
Will the motivation be there? – If a player doesn’t care about performing at his best then he isn’t going to achieve his best results. When you are handicapping these matchups you need to play amateur psychologist to make sure that you are on the right side. Is the NBA player going to be particularly fired up for a game because he is playing a former team, a hated rival, or a potential playoff opponent? Will he play less than his best on the hardwood because it is a weak opponent, an opponent that has frequently frustrated him, or a game that has no impact on the outcome of the season?
Where is the public? – Whenever you look at a prop bet you have to consider where the public is likely to be drawn. Often times it will be obvious which side the public will throw the majority of their money. Whenever the action is likely to be one-sided you can be sure that the prices have been adjusted by NBA handicappers to compensate for the action so that the books aren’t exposed to too much risk. The best sports bettors know that a NBA prop wager that looks attractive at first glance might not ultimately seem like such a good deal when you consider the impact of the public on the price, or it might seem especially attractive.