The hardest position to play well in the NBA is point guard. They have to command the play, set the tone, avoid mistakes, and make their team work. It used to be that point guard was a position that young players had been able to ease into. Recently, though, it has become more and more common to see a NBA rookie start, or at least play significant minutes, right out of the gate. For bettors this creates a challenge. Sometimes a young guy can be a real detriment running an offense. Other times, though, he performs just fine. In order to make the best NBA picks possible, you need to be able to accurately judge how well young point guards will perform and also determine how good the team around them is going to do. Here’s a look at six factors expert oddsmakers consider when looking at young point guards as the NBA season progresses.
How is he holding up physically? – The second half of the NBA season is uncharted territory for a player. In college they didn’t play 40 games. In high school they may have, but it was spread over the whole year, and the level of competition wasn’t nearly as high. In the NBA, though, players have to play 100 games or more when you factor in the preseason and the playoffs, and they have to do it against the best pro basketball players in the world. They are also required to play every other day, or even more often. That’s far more often than they would have played before. That’s a whole lot of physical strain, and the effects of it show up on a lot of players. For point guards that impact can be even more significant than some positions because they are generally smaller players. There are a couple of types of players that you really want to pay particular attention to. The first is particularly physical point guards who like to drive to the basket themselves. They are going to pay a big physical price over the course of the season. The other to watch is the high profile kids who were lottery picks with lots of hype. Opposing players put a big target on these players, so they are going to face an extra hit, an extra shove, or an extra bump more often than not. This can affect their ability to perform and your NBA sports bets.
Keep an eye on the turnovers – Turnovers are a good indicator of the progress a player is making. As a general rule young NBA point guards have turnover issues. If those problems aren’t getting any better – or if they are getting worse – then it could be a sign of issues. Perhaps he’s losing focus. Or maybe opposing teams are getting better at bothering him. Maybe he’s not developing chemistry with teammates quickly, or not taking to his coaching as well as he could. Whatever the reason, a rising trend in turnovers is really something to keep an eye on.
Has his role changed? – A good indicator of how well a young point guard is performing, and how well he can be trusted by bettors, is how his role has changed on his team. Is he starting now after starting the season on the bench, or has he gone in reverse? Have his minutes on the court increased or stayed steady? Is he used consistently in games, or is he used differently depending on the style and caliber of the opponent and the way the schedule has played out? Is he being used more or less in clutch situations? You can use the confidence of the coaching staff as a very good indicator of the confidence you should have.
How is he doing the second time through the league? – When a player is playing opponents for the first time it can be easy for him to catch them off guard. His tricks are new, his style is unfamiliar, and the opponents haven’t seen him before. By the second time around, though, the team has their own experience to rely on, and a whole lot more tape to look at as well. In the NBA, if a player is impressive the second time he plays a team it is far more notable from a winning betting perspective than if he is impressive the first time he plays them.
How pivotal is he? – It is very important to get a sense of how important the success of the player is to the success of the team. Some guys are so integral to their team that if they struggle their team is in trouble. Other NBA teams are deep enough, or run through other positions than the point guard, that the young player can struggle without a huge impact on the team. Obviously, the more significant the guard is, the more concerned NBA sports bettors need to be about him. One good way to get an indication of this is to compare the team’s performance against the point spread to the player’s performance. Does the team do significantly worse ATS when the player struggles than they do when he plays particularly well?
Is he used to increasing pressure? – As the pro basketball season progresses the intensity and pressure a point guard feels in the arena is going to increase – especially if the team has any chance of making the playoffs. The better the team is and the more the point guard plays the more pressure he will feel. Some guys thrive under that pressure, while others crumble under it and their play on the court suffers. While it’s hard to know for sure how a player will respond, you can make a good prediction based on the pressure they have felt in the past. Did he play in a high pressure college situation, or a more relaxed one? Did he thrive when the pressure amplified in college, or was he less of a March performer?