Early in the NBA season one of the best ways for smart handicappers to cash in is to have a sense of which teams are underrated by the general public. There will always be a few teams that don’t get nearly the respect they deserve. The odds from bookmakers for those teams in their early games will be far more generous than they should be as a result – especially if those teams open up against strong public teams. It’s obviously an inexact science to spot which NBA teams are underrated. There are some general rules which can point you in the right direction when it comes to making early NBA sports picks. Here are four of those rules to get you started:
Loss of a superstar – The public has a very star-centered view of the NBA. When a team loses a high profile superstar through s trade or free agency and doesn’t replace them with a similarly high caliber of star then the public is going to panic. They are automatically going to assume that the team will be far worse on the hardwood than they have been. The truth is, though, that that isn’t always the case. Sometimes a NBA team will indeed be worse, but quite often they will actually find a way to make up for the impact of the superstar reasonably well. It could be that they brought in a new player who isn’t high profile but is very talented and capable of stepping up. Or maybe a backup on the roster is talented and ready to step up and perform once given the chance. Or perhaps they have two or three players who will together combine to be as productive on the court. Or perhaps a shift in coaching philosophy will mean that they don’t have to have a player who is as productive in order to succeed. When making your picks, if you can be reasonably confident that the loss of a superstar won’t be as significant as the public will assume then you could have a great shot at nice short term profits.
Strong draft without marquee names – The public gets excited when NBA teams use high draft picks to chose high profile college or international stars with huge expectations on their shoulders. It’s quite possible for a team to have a very strong draft without adding players like that, though. Perhaps they have filled their needs particularly well, they have added underrated players, or a real bargain fell to them in their draft slot. They may also have been able to grab an international player who is experienced and ready to contribute right away but is well off the radar of the general public.
Third year with a coach – In my eyes the third year of a coaching regime is an important one – a turning point. If a NBA coach is able to last that long then he is obviously doing some things right and still has the confidence of management in a league that is typically short on patience. At that point they are very familiar with their players, they have been able to initiate the changes they have wanted to make, and the players they have are very familiar with what they are doing – and have hopefully bought into it. If a coach is doing a good job then the third year is when they can take a surprising step forward, which means they could be a good bet. In wagering, a NBA coach entering his third year on a team that people aren’t paying any attention to is a dream scenario in my eyes.
Quietly improving off radar – In the NBA there are two types of teams that take the court. There are the ones that have star players, play in significant markets, get national media attention, and are considered real contenders to make the playoffs and have some success once they get there. Then there are the teams that no one cares about or pays any attention to. They could be in small or otherwise lesser markets, they could be short of stars, and they probably either don’t make the playoffs very often or they re totally irrelevant if they do. The NBA is very unbalanced, so the good teams get a massive percentage of the attention and the coverage, and the other teams are forgotten and ignored. If a team falls into the latter category then it is very easy for them to be getting better without anyone paying any attention at all to them. If a team has improved their roster over the last couple of years, and has slowly improved their results then they could be ready to take a big step forward in this season, and that step forward could come as a huge surprise to people who have forgotten that the team exists. They could be a great pro basketball pick.