The NBA betting public is better at one thing than all others – overreacting to situations. They will regularly assume the worst about situations, and have an incredible ability to make mountains out of molehills. The NBA preseason isn’t typically taken as seriously by teams as the regular season, so there are all sorts of things that the public and inexperienced sports bettors can overreact to. Here are five things in the NBA preseason that can seem to be a whole lot more significant than they actually are:
A hot rookie – Few things will get people more excited in the preseason than a NBA rookie that puts up eye-opening numbers – especially if it is a high profile rookie who was highly drafted. The problem is, though, that there is no reason to expect that the rookie will be able to replicate that performance on the court in the regular season. He is probably getting more playing time in the preseason than he will when the regular basketball season starts, he is playing with different teammates, and he is likely playing a simplified system. He’s also playing against weaker opponents because the team he is playing against isn’t nearly as prepared as they are going to be, they aren’t using the same systems and approaches they will be in the regular season, and they aren’t in game shape. The rookies will also be enjoying the benefits of a great deal of adrenaline over the excitement of their new occupation. Put it all together and as a sports bettor you can’t trust what you see.
An offensively potent team – When a team is able to score a whole bunch of points in the NBA preseason it can’t be trusted. It may be that they are going to have an impressive and potent offense making big dunks and hitting three-pointers, but that isn’t necessarily the case. There are just too many factors that could be contributing to the results – playing teams that aren’t fielding a full roster or aren’t playing a complete defensive scheme, playing against mismatched opponents, playing players who won’t be starting once the regular season rolls around and so on. Before you get excited by anything that a team is doing on the hardwood make sure that there is a good chance that they will be able to replicate it once the real season begins. If that can, that will affect how bookmakers set their lines and how you handicap a team.
A star who is MIA – If a big name professional basketball star has a flat game in the preseason there will inevitably be people who raise concerns – especially if the star is getting older and could potentially be declining. The fact of the matter is, though, that the preseason means absolutely nothing to NBA veterans who are secure in their jobs and their starting roles know it. If they are comfortable with their coach and their teammates then they are going to have little motivation to kill themselves in the preseason. they will likely make way for other players to get playing time once they have played the minimum amount they need to to get ready, and if they are at all banged up or injured then they will be particularly cautious to be sure they are ready when the season starts. If a star player isn’t playing like a superstar by January then you have an issue, but in October it is totally irrelevant.
Injuries – It’s hard to trust injury reports in the NBA at the best of times, but in the preseason you just can’t waste anytime worrying about the injury status of players. Some guys will play through injuries if they really need the playing time. Other guys will sit out or be severely limited by an injury that wouldn’t be a factor at all in the regular season. It is easy at the best of times to read too much into what you see and hear regarding the health of a player. In the preseason you just can’t let yourself do so. Don’t let it affect your NBA handicapping later on.
Losses to a lesser opponent – If a NBA championship caliber team loses to a bunch of losers then there will inevitably be people that will suggest that the good team could have some issues, and that the bad team could be a surprise this year. Ignore it all when it comes to making winning picks. There is a much better chance that the players on a bad team will be playing at full intensity in the preseason because they are fighting for their jobs and trying to become a respectable team. The good team knows what they are doing, knows they will be good, and has nothing to prove in these games. The scoreboard means absolutely nothing in the preseason when it comes to regular season odds and your ability to make good bets against the spread. The veteran sports bettor knows that giving it any credit at all would be a huge mistake.