Earlier this week, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst wrote about the rising transparency issues with NBA teams, star players, and their injuries.
The injury report issue specifically has been a challenge for the NBA biggest star and second-best player ever, LeBron James.
During the NBA finals, LeBron maybe-probably-could’ve-potentially broke his hand punching a whiteboard after the Cavs’ Game 1 loss. You might remember what preceded it:
This season, James’ groin has been the issue. From the ongoing theories about how severe the injury is (and who really knew what when), LeBron’s groin has been a source of consternation for gamblers. Writes Windhorst:
Gamblers want more transparency when it comes to injuries. Players, like anyone else, have privacy rights. Teams don’t want to allow a competitive disadvantage — and want to limit possible damage to business — and frequently obfuscate. In short, it’s a challenge.
It’s a delicate mix, for sure. The whole situation though could quickly come to a head as the NBA deepens its ties with legal betting operators.
Injury disclosure standards
Despite being late-to-get-on-board-with-gambling, the NFL historically has had the most wink-wink-nod-nod relationship with bettors. Their required injury reporting process is the most stringent of the major American sports league. As the NFL has partnered with Caesars now, stricter reporting policies may be put into place.
If the NBA had a 15-day disabled list like MLB, James surely would’ve been on it this season, clearing some levels of his day-to-day ambiguity. Currently, the NBA only requires teams to list a player as probable, questionable or doubtful by 5 p.m. on game day. Professional gamblers are used to working on those types of tight timelines, but it does make it more difficult for mainstream gamblers to gauge a player’s availability on short notice.
How do integrity fees fit into this?
Professional sports leagues want gambling operators to use their data feeds and charge them a fee for it. These integrity fees are intended to keep the games legit and ensure the quality of data being used.
But what about the integrity of injury information? Isn’t that just as important? And should gambling operators demand more transparency from professional sports leagues regarding player injuries?
The easy answer to that is, “yes.”
If professional sports leagues want to charge integrity fees, great. All day long. The operators though should push back and get standard reporting and standards from all leagues regarding player injuries.
New Jersey is showing the enormous appetite for legal sports betting in the U.S., pulling in $1.2M in handle since June. Degens are always gonna degen, they’re not going anywhere. But the real revenue growth will come from more casual mainstream bettors. Making sure they have the most accurate information is vital.
Expect this topic to gain steam this year.
The repeal of the Professional Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 2018 opened the doors for states to legalize sports betting. It also opened the doors for mainstream sports media to embrace sports betting more than ever.
Websites and podcasts were the first to act since those are the forms of media that are quickest to respond. Older, traditional forms of media, like television and radio, are still working toward getting off the ground.
While “Lock It In” debuted nationally on Fox Sports 1 last year, we’ve yet to see a major influx of TV shows dedicated to sports betting, though that should change this year.
The next step for televised sports betting could begin on the local level.
Next step for sports betting in the media
NBC Sports Washington is taking sports betting on television to another level. Instead of another show providing analysis, the regional sports network will debut a unique prototype of what TV could look like when sports betting is fully integrated.
On Jan. 11, NBC Sports Washington will air a second feed of the Washington Wizards game versus the Milwaukee Bucks. The traditional broadcast will be shown on the main station while an interactive broadcast will air on NBC Sports Washington Plus.
The game broadcast will be the same. The screen will feature wraparounds similar to what you’d see on ESPN News, any game on YouTube TV and new digital cable boxes.
Those major difference from the regular broadcast of this basketball game will be interactive and feature sports betting information. The screen will show odds, point spreads and wagering options surrounding game action.
Even though NBA League Pass is available nationally, most of the audience for this game will be in the Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland where sports betting isn’t legal yet. The gambling interface for the game will be a sweepstakes-style game.
‘Predict the Game’
According to Sports Business Daily, the gambling will be more of a question-and-answer activity called “Predict the Game.”
Viewers will be able to answer questions like: “How many points a specific player will score in a quarter?” or “How many assists will a player have in a half?” for a chance to win $500.
While this will be a free game, it could also be the future of sports betting during live games.
NBC Sports Washington and Monumental Sports (Wizards’ ownership group) both see this as a way to appeal to new, mainstream sports bettors. This new television broadcast could be used as a model to incorporate sports betting more deeply into game broadcasts.
The idea of rewarding customers by predicting outcomes in sporting events isn’t necessarily a new concept. However, this will be the first time it will be integrated on TV with a live game.
Sports betting continues to take small steps toward mainstream distribution and acceptance, and this is just another step forward for legal sports betting in the US.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) announced a deal to make FanDuel Sportsbook an authorized gaming operator of the league. FanDuel will continue to be the official daily fantasy partner of the NBA and the WNBA.
The new and expanded partnership gives FanDuel access to official NBA betting data as well as the use of NBA and WNBA marks and logos across FanDuel’s sports betting offerings. This part of the deal might sound familiar as the NBA has similar partnerships with The Stars Group (BetStars) and MGM Resorts International.
What makes this deal slightly different is that FanDuel will remain the NBA’s Official Daily Fantasy Partner. They will continue to operate both the Official Daily Fantasy Game of the NBA and the WNBA. FanDuel and the NBA will also continue to offer NBA InPlay, the interactive, real-time mobile fantasy game that launched in 2016.
Maybe… finally… possibly… a sportsbook will do something with NBA data
MGM Resorts was the first company to sign a partnership with the NBA to access official data. So far, the international casino operator hasn’t offered anything new for pro basketball bettors. BetStars just signed their partnership and hasn’t offered new NBA sports betting options either. Perhaps, FanDuel and their beautiful app will offer NBA bettors a new way to get down on the action.
“The core of our terrific partnership with FanDuel has been focused on innovation around the fan experience, and we are excited to extend it to include sports betting,” said Scott Kaufman-Ross, Head of Fantasy & Gaming, NBA. “Together, we have broken new ground in the fantasy world on both the NBA and WNBA, and now with the use of our official NBA betting data, will continue to collaborate on new ways to engage our passionate fans.”
FanDuel has one of the best, if not the best, mobile sportsbook apps on the market. While FanDuel’s in-play betting options load quicker than some of the competition, it can still get better. Official data from the NBA should reduce any lag, which will give bettors a few more seconds to place a wager.
FanDuel already offers a large and quick In Play menu for NBA games. In theory, the new partnership should make these offerings even better.
FanDuel engaging NBA fans like nobody else
NBA fans are looking for engagement with the game anywhere they can find it. NBA twitter is probably the most active audience of all sports leagues. House Of Highlights on Instagram has more than 11 million followers enjoying NBA videos all day and night.
The NBA has always been a step of other professional sports leagues in the US. Their fans expect to be able to engage with the NBA more than any other sport. This new FanDuel partnership has the potential to give NBA fans another way to engage with a sport and brand they already know.
“We share a clear view on how we can collaborate to bring basketball fans new ways to engage with the games and players they love. With the expansion of our fantasy agreement and addition of sports betting, we are excited to work together in ways we haven’t before.”
The more partnerships the NBA signs the closer American sports bettors are to unlocking new ways to gamble on one of their favorite games. This could be the first partnership with the NBA to actually offer sports bettors in the US new and improved sports betting options.
This week, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and The Stars Group (BetStars) announced a new multiyear gaming partnership. The Stars Group is now an authorized sports betting operator of the NBA in the US.
This partnership is the first for the Stars Group with a professional sports league in the US. As of this announcement, BetStars is only operating in New Jersey.
Inside the deal
The deal between the NBA and The Stars Group is similar the partnership the NBA and MGM Resorts International agreed on earlier this year. Here’s the part of the deal that should effect NBA bettors.
- The Stars Group has the right to use official NBA betting data and league marks across their digital sports betting offerings.
Additionally, both entities will help market each other.
The Stars Group will be promoted across the NBA’s digital assets including NBA TV, NBA.com, the NBA App and NBA social media platforms. In return, the NBA will be promoted across The Stars Group’s gaming platforms.
This deal will include BetStars in the US, and PokerStars, which operates the world’s most popular online poker sites outside of the US.
The bottom line with this deal is that the NBA is paid for their name and data while The Stars Group and BetStars get promotion from the league and official data.
Data Deals: BetStars vs. MGM Resorts
In theory, this partnership puts BetStars on the same level as MGM Resorts International. The online and mobile sportsbook operator now has a similar deal with the NBA that the major worldwide casino operator has.
The marketing is good for the NBA and The Stars Group, but it’s really not something that’s useful for sports bettors at this time. The league could implement some kind of wagering opportunities in their games but it doesn’t seem as though that’s a priority.
Data deals with professional leagues in the US have great potential for sportsbook operators. The speed and uniqueness of the information should allow sportsbook operators to improve their betting product. Unfortunately, MGM Resorts International hasn’t used the data to offer new gambling experiences just yet.
While the mammoth casino operator has been slow to act with their league data, BetStars should be nimble enough to shake up NBA betting in New Jersey. Smaller and focused companies can often move quickly.
A casino operator has the challenge of selling various channels at multiple properties. For example, MGM Resorts, as a company, is selling a casino, entertainment, dining, nightclubs, spas, etc.
To date, MGM Resorts is signing deals and not improving their sports betting product for customers. That should come in time.
Meanwhile, The Stars Group only offers gambling products. This limited scope should allow BetStars to find ways to use the NBA data sooner than later.
BetStars is already offering more pre-game NBA wagering options than some other sportsbook operators in the US. On Tuesday night, BetStars had as many as 75 ways to wager on the Portland Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets. For comparison, MGM Resorts had 11 pre-game options for the game.
Official data from the NBA should allow both BetStars and MGM Resorts to offer unique In-Play wagering opportunities that other sportsbooks don’t or won’t offer. Sports bettors are eagerly awaiting new ways to gamble on their favorite games.
On Wednesday, the NBA announced a first for a professional sports league in America. The league is now the first professional sports league in America to sign betting data partnerships related to the US market. The first two betting NBA data partners are Sportradar and Genius Sports.
This deal is a nonexclusive, so in theory, there could be more NBA betting data distribution partners in the future. This comes just a few months after MGM Resorts and the NBA signed a nonexclusive deal for data (and marketing). Coincidentally, or not, Sportradar is already providing data to MGM Resorts.
The first of its kind deal will begin with NBA and WNBA data distribution this year. Partnering with reputable data distribution services to provide official data to licensed sportsbooks could be a major step for legal sportsbook operators to separate from illegal bookies.
Legal sportsbooks moving forward
Data distribution deals by the NBA and other leagues can potentially leave illegal bookies in the Dark Ages. One benefit of sports bettors gambling with illegal bookies is the ability to bet on credit. This won’t go away. But while offering better lines for pre-game wagering is beneficial, there’s a whole lot more to betting on sports today.
Legal sportsbooks receiving data the quickest will allow them to offer in-play betting and some player propositions that won’t be accessible to illegal sportsbooks. In-play wagering has anecdotally been about 20 percent of the sports betting market in Nevada. That number is multiplying in New Jersey.
During a sports betting conference this week, Niall Connell, of FanDuel Sportsbook in New Jersey, said around 40 percent of their handle (amount of money wagered) is coming from in-play wagering. Having access to the best data will continue to grow that revenue stream and help advance legal sports betting around the country.
US sports betting worldwide
Sports betting in the US may never be the same. New international companies are changing the game. Sportsbook operators in New Jersey are already offering different options for US sports bettors thanks to their European influences.
Irish sportsbook operator Paddy Power is the brains behind the FanDuel Sportsbook in New Jersey. Kambi, another European company, is already powering sportsbooks in multiple states outside of Nevada.
US sports betting data distribution will also use experience from European companies. Carsten Koerl, chief executive officer of Sportradar, says that with “sports betting being so new to the United States, we will look to utilize our vast global experience in the space to implement innovative feeds and products to give fans and partners an amazing experience.”
Sports betting is evolving
For better or worse, sports betting in the US is changing. Between data deals with professional sports leagues and sportsbook operators with a different point of view than Nevada casinos, there are a lot of changes happening to sports betting in the US right now.
There are new ways to bet on sports popping up nearly every week. Thanks to new companies, new data deals and new wagering options, there’s no end in sight to the evolution of legal sports betting.
In something you don’t see at the top levels of European soccer anymore, Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has been charged with allegedly breaching the Football Association’s betting rules.
Specifically, Sturridge is accused of breaking Rule E8(1)(a)(ii) and Rule E8(1)(b) during January 2018.
He has until Tuesday, Nov. 20 to respond. Sturridge has stated “categorically that he has never gambled on football,” said a Liverpool spokesperson.
Soooo … what does that mean?
Just follow this and then I’ll speculate. Here are the FA betting rules Sturridge is accused of violating:
- Rule E8(1)(a) – a participant shall not bet, either directly or indirectly, or instruct, permit, cause or enable any person to bet on – (i) the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of, or occurrence in or in connection with, a football match or competition; or (ii) any other matter concerning or related to football anywhere in the world, including, for example and without limitation, the transfer of players, employment of managers, team selection or disciplinary matters.
- Rule E8(1)(b) – where a participant provides to any other person any information relating to football which the participant has obtained by virtue of his or her position within the game and which is not publicly available at that time, the participant shall be in breach of this Rule where any of that information is used by that other person for, or in relation to, betting.
Sturridge was accused of this violation in January 2018.
In January 2018, Sturridge completed a loan to West Brom Albion. Rule E8(1)(a) states that, “a participant shall not bet, either directly or indirectly…or enable any person to bet on…the transfer of players…” Rule E8(1)(b) states that, “where a participant provides to any other person any information relating to football which the participant has obtained by virtue of his or her position within the game…”
It’s reasonable given the timeframe to assume that Sturridge either intentionally or carelessly provided information of his transfer to someone who placed and won a large wager. We here at TheLines are not the betting type of people, but it’s like -350 that’s what happened.
Governing athletes in the U.S.
Europe has a significantly more mature sports betting market than the U.S. Players at the top levels know the rules.
So what exactly are sports betting rules for U.S. pro athletes?
Major League Baseball
We all know that Pete Rose earned himself a lifetime ban. In general, this is pretty straightforward. Section D of Major League Baseball Rule 21 states:
- Any player, umpire, or Club or League official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform, shall be declared ineligible for one year.
- Any player, umpire, or Club or League official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform, shall be declared permanently ineligible.
National Football League
The NFL has an interesting and somewhat confusing view of gambling in general. They’ve opposed gambling and were behind lobbying efforts around the UIGEA. Yet they provide injury reports with a wink-wink-nod-nod to how that impacts gamblers, and their owners had no issue investing in daily fantasy sports sites. As far as “NFL personnel” go, however, this is more clearly defined:
League policy strictly prohibits NFL Personnel from participating in or facilitating any form of illegal gambling. In addition, NFL Personnel are prohibited from engaging in any of the following gambling-related activities, regardless of whether such activities are legal:
- Accepting a bribe or agreeing to throw or fix a game or illegally influence its outcome, statistics or score;
- Failing promptly to report any bribe offer or any attempt to throw or fix a game or to illegally influence its outcome, statistics or score;
- Betting on any NFL game or practice, or any other professional (e.g., NBA, MLB, NHL,PGA, USTA), college (e.g., NCAA basketball), or Olympic sport. including but not limited to wagers related to game outcome, statistics, score, or performance of any individual participant
- Sharing confidential information regarding any game or any participating individual’s Status for or performance in any game without authorization or for the purpose of enabling or facilitating gambling;
- Participating in or condoning any form of gambling while in any Club or League setting including, without limitation, locker rooms, practice or office facilities, or while traveling on Club or League business; or
- Entering into, utilizing or otherwise visiting a “sports book ” at any time during the NFL playing season.
National Basketball Association
Rumors have swirled for years regarding why Michael Jordan really left the NBA the first time. And we all know about Tim Donaghy. The NBA Constitution states:
Any person who, directly or indirectly, wagers money or anything of value on the outcome of any game played by a Team in the league operated by the Association shall, on being charged with such wagering, be given an opportunity to answer such charges after due notice, and the decision of the Commissioner shall be final, binding, conclusive, and unappealable. The penalty for such offense shall be within the absolute and sole discretion of the Commissioner and may include a fine, suspension, expulsion and/or perpetual disqualification from further association with the Association or any of its Members.
Additionally, per the league’s collective bargaining agreement, players have to take a mandatory gambling awareness program.
Expect very public player and personnel policy
As sports betting continues to roll out to more states, with so much at stake, expect stricter, clearly defined, and more public player policy from all professional leagues. It’s in the best interest of the leagues, players, and bettors.
OK. Don’t freak out. It’s only been a few weeks. No title is won in October.
Although. I suppose it’s possible to LOSE title.
Sorry, Los Angeles Lakers. Apologies, Houston Rockets. Additional-though-insincere sympathetic comment, the rest of the Western Conference and entire NBA outside of the Golden State Warriors.
Behold, the NBA has returned. Well, not so much “season” as “countdown to Golden State’s championship.”
Entering the season, Golden State held -200 odds to win its third straight NBA title and fourth in five years. Per sportsoddshistory.com, no other team in the last 30 years has been such a heavy favorite, let alone the odds-on favorite — that is, until the Warriors earned that recognition two years ago… and then last year… and this year…
So basically, Obi-Wan Kenobi, not even you can provide hope. But hey, you can cash in on the Warriors, or on a darkhorse. Sports betting is in full swing in several states, especially in New Jersey. After each month of the NBA season, we’ll check in with NJ sports betting operations and update some preseason projections via the league’s $1 million over/under contest.
So let’s begin.
A quick recap of NJ sports betting
FanDuel Sportsbook opened the season by offering a promotion wherein bettors received a $3 bonus for every point LeBron James scored when they wagered a minimum $50 on the Lakers’ moneyline. As a result, the sportsbook doled out more than $250,000 in credit.
Another promotion that paid off was a local lock. When wagering on the New York Knicks or Brooklyn Nets to win (yeah, right), bettors could receive their money back (up to $100) should they lose in their respective games (Knicks vs. Hawks, Nets vs. Pistons). With the Nets losing, FanDuel reported, Brooklyn bettors got back more than $100,000 in credit.
The highlight of the early NBA betting season came Oct. 24, when “one brilliant mind,” as FanDuel described it, wagered $200 on the ENTIRE NBA BOARD! Victory came. And that 11-leg parlay, with winning odds of 1 in 650, paid out over $86,000.
Over/Under Challenge: Eastern Conference
The NBA, in its over/under contest presented by MGM, feeds hubris. It fuels the ego. No better feeling exists in life than throwing a parade, ribbon dancers abounding, with a sing-song “Told ya! Called it!” providing the soundtrack.
In an attempt to land a cool $1 million, participants examined the projected win totals for each NBA team. Correctly predicting the over/under for all 30 teams earns a seven-figure payday. (As a consolation prize, nailing 25 picks gets a gift card to the NBA Store. I’ll take the mil, thanks. And also the mil promised by a coworker, and another couple grand by another coworker. Naturally, I’ll be keeping tabs throughout the season.)
With help from FiveThirtyEight and its NBA predictions based on Elo ratings, we can not only look at current records but see a projected final record. Let’s start with the Eastern Conference.
|*(Through Oct. 31)|
|New York Knicks||31.5||Under||2-6||29-53|
Right on track
- Charlotte Hornets: The Hornets went just .500 over their first eight games. Already that seemed like overachieving. This is a franchise that won 48 games three years ago, but has consistently finished below 37 victories and out of the playoffs since its 1990s heyday. Even so, Kemba Walker, the newly crowned franchise leading scorer, has Charlotte out of the gates with confidence. Granted, the Hornets’ opponents so far wouldn’t scare a goat into a frozen fright. Yet Charlotte had three losses decided by two points or less, including against playoff contenders Milwaukee and Philadelphia.
- Cleveland Cavaliers: Going 1-6 in the first month is nothing to write home about. Though it will earn a pass to the front of the unemployment line, which coach Tyronn Lue indeed received. The MGM-fueled contest pegged Cleveland to still win over 30 games, which seemed rather lofty. The last time James left, the Cavs plummeted from 61 wins to just 19 victories. Still, Cleveland has weapons, even if one, Kevin Love, will be sidelined for an extended period due to injury. It’s still the East. There’s still hope for competitiveness, which has not shown thus far. Still, as FiveThirtyEight projects, the Cavs still have a chance to push for the postseason (it is the East, after all). However, if things continue to go south, certainly owner Dan Gilbert will again pull the tanking trigger.
- Indiana Pacers: The Pacers were thoroughly underrated last season. After trading away centerpiece Paul George, Indiana had only a few playmakers. And no cornerstones. At the time, anyway. Behind Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis (two pieces received from OKC in the George deal) as well as Myles Turner and Thaddeus Young and somehow Lance Stephenson, the Pacers won 48 games (17.5 more than the preseason over/under) before bowing out in the first round. This year, Oladipo has continued his rise, averaging 22 points per game in October for an Indiana team that ranked second in the league in field goal and three-point percentage. In a LeBron-less East, Indiana still seems like an heir apparent.
Off the rails
- Boston Celtics: Fifty-seven players in the NBA had better scoring averages than the top scorer for the Celtics in October. The Celtics still went 5-2. When LeBron bolted to the West, Boston jumped to the top of the list of Eastern Conference representatives in the NBA Finals. Even if Bron stayed in Cleveland, the Celtics likely would receive similar praise. Despite a strong start, though, FiveThirtyEight has Boston stumbling along the way. Yet Boston boasted six players averaging double figures in the first month while holding opponents to the second-lowest shooting percentage.
- Milwaukee Bucks: The last unbeaten team in the NBA was not the Warriors. There’s the first shock. It was not either of the East’s top contenders, the Celtics or the Raptors. Actually, it was Toronto, then undefeated, that the Bucks defeated to exit October with a flawless 7-0 mark. The Alphabet, Giannis Antetokounmpo, has again emerged as an MVP candidate for Milwaukee, which has limited opponents to the worst shooting percentage in the league. Regression to the mean can be a wonderful thing (for those taking the under), but an inexplicable slump or some bad injury luck would need to get the Bucks down to around their projected 46.5 win total.
- Washington Wizards: Easily the most disappointing first-month performance in the league. And also another black mark against Dwight Howard. A playoff team four times in the past five years, Washington didn’t just stumble out of the starting blocks. It slipped, tripped, face-planted and skidded off the track into a cart of manure. John Wall and Bradley Beal are doing what they can, both averaging more than 20 points per game in October on better than 44 percent shooting apiece. But the Wizards need a streak. Or they will post the franchise’s lowest win total since Beal’s rookie year in 2012-13.
Over/Under Challenge: Western Conference
As for the Best Western Conference:
|*(Through Oct. 31)|
|Golden State Warriors||64.5||Under||8-1||62-20|
|Los Angeles Clippers||38.5||Over||4-3||45-37|
|Los Angeles Lakers||49.5||Over||3-5||38-44|
|New Orleans Pelicans||43.5||Over||4-3||48-34|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||48.5||Under||2-4||43-39|
|Portland Trail Blazers||42.5||Over||5-2||51-31|
|San Antonio Spurs||45.5||Under||5-2||45-37|
Right on track
- Denver Nuggets: Fun challenge — name the starting five for the Nuggets. Name three players other than Nikola Jokic. Name Denver’s coach. Doesn’t matter. They don’t care. Denver wrapped up October with the second-most wins in the West, behind only the Warriors. Four of the Nuggets’ five starting regulars (all five, if you count Will Barton, who has been sidelined since the second game of the year due to injury) averaged more than 12 points per game in the first month. Not only is Denver winning the jersey war, it’s started establishing itself as a contender.
- Oklahoma City Thunder: Speaking on behalf of all Seattle diehards, good. Finally, the Sonics have something to be proud of. Despite ridding itself of iso-beso master Carmelo Anthony, OKC has not put anything together. Russell Westbrook and Paul George both averaged 25 points per game, yet the Thunder shot a league-worst 27.5 percent from 3-point range, an absolute necessity in today’s game.
- Portland Trail Blazers: You would think after several years of shaming the Trail Blazers and pegging them as mediocre-at-best, oddsmakers would at some point try to provide some respect. Then again, Portland has been known to use any fodder as motivation. Still, a preseason projection of 42.5 wins, nearly seven less than last year’s total, seems to have inspired Portland more than ever before. Off to the third-best record in the West, the Blazers have under-the-radar MVP candidate Damian Lillard, the only player in October to average nearly 30 points, six assists and five boards per game.
Off the rails
- Houston Rockets: The Carmelo Anthony effect has set in. The team with the NBA’s best record last year, with a franchise-record 65 wins, went just 1-5 in October. James Harden continues to be a travelling circus (emphasis on travelling; don’t @ me), and Chris Paul, when not poking the face of Rajon Rondo, continues to be a top-tier point guard. Yet the Rockets shot the second-lowest field goal percentage in the NBA. Certainly, one would assume, Houston will right the ship. But when? How quickly?
- Los Angeles Lakers: Certainly no one, at least nobody in their right minds and nobody whose room is decorated with padded walls, expected the Lakers to become immediate championship contenders. Even an NBA Finals has not gone on without LeBron on the court since 2010. The Lakers got off to a horrid start and limped into November at 3-5. The rag-tag island of misfit toys could still find a rhythm. Most LeBron teams do at some point. Here’s hoping.
- Sacramento Kings: No. No no no. Nonononono. C’mon, Kings. Who does this? Granted, the preseason over/under for Sac-tap-town stood at a mere 26.5. And the Kings have not won fewer than 27 games since 2012. Still, Sacramento has lost more and more over the past three years. Off to a 5-3 start, Sacramento is among the league leaders in field goal (49.8) and 3-point (40) percentage. But the Kings are still young. The West is still loaded. The trademark Sactown Slump awaits. Hopefully.
Who ya got for the title?
Naturally, the Warriors continue to be odds-on favorites to win the NBA title. After just two weeks, however, several teams have argued hard enough for lines to move significantly at FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook.
The Bucks, for example, jumped from a +10,000 preseason line to +4,400 at FanDuel, while the Nuggets have climbed from +8,000 to +6,000. At DraftKings Sportsbook, Toronto went from +1,700 to +900, and the New Orleans Pelicans have gone from +9,000 to +4,500.
As for MVP odds (at FanDuel/DraftKings):
- Giannis Antetokounmpo (+240/+300)
- Steph Curry (+410/+450)
- Anthony Davis (+390/+450)
- LeBron James (+500/+450)
- Kawhi Leonard (+750/+650)
The NBA has created a new pinball machine, and bookmakers are going on tilt. Scoring has surged to record levels the opening week, and the new plasma pop bumpers are spinning out of control as scoring erupts. The first 46 games of the season had 10,162 points scored for an average of 220.9 points per game. Take out the two overtime games on Monday, Oct. 22 and scoring is still averaging 219.7 PPG in regulation.
The record scoring has resulted in 29 OVERS and 17 UNDERS, as the OVER is hitting at a 63% rate thus far.
According to BetLabs and its proprietary sports betting information and database, OVERS in the month of October have been profitable only four times in the past 11 years.
Last season, there were 13 times when a team scored at least 140 points in a game. In the first week of the 2018-19 NBA season, two teams have scored at least 140 points as the Mavericks scored 140 on the Timberwolves and the Pelicans poured in 149 points against Sacramento. The Kings had the lowest season win total of all NBA teams at 25.5, but Sacramento has come out scoring and its defense is dreadful through three games, as the total in the Kings games has gone over in all three games by an average of 36 points per game. Dallas, Minnesota and Utah games are also going over by an average of 30 points per game.
From 2005 through 2015, NBA scoring averaged 99 points per game (PPG). The 2016-17 season saw scoring average 103 PPG and last season scoring averaged 106 PPG, which was the highest since the early 1990s. It appears scoring records will be shattered this season.
The bookmakers are usually quick to adjust to totals, but it still been a struggle trying to figure out the pace, shooting and scoring. Of the 29 games that have gone over the total, 20 of them eclipsed the total by at least 10 points. And 11 of those games went over the total by at least 20 points. On Oct. 22, seven of the nine games had posted totals of at least 224 points. Four of them still went over the total. So even with the adjustment upward on the totals, scoring is still sailing over the adjusted totals and the players are beating the bookmakers early this season when betting overs.
Why the scoring increase?
Rule changes with a point of education and emphasis on buckling down on perimeter contact and less clutch, grab and bumping in the half court are designed to allow more freedom of movement. There has also been more whistles and fouls called inside. New rule changes include:
- The shot clock reset to 14 seconds in offensive rebounding situations, as opposed to 24 seconds in seasons past.
- Simplification of the Clear Path Foul Rule – personal foul against any offensive player during his team’s transition scoring opportunity.
Pace of play is up to an average of more than 105 possessions per game, up from 102 possessions per game the opening week of last season. All of last season saw possessions per game average 100 per game. No team last season averaged more than 105 possessions per game, but this season 18 teams are averaging at least 105 possessions per game.
The Hawks, Kings and Lakers are all averaging at least 110 possessions per game.
Last season, only the Houston Rockets produced more than 36% of its points from 3-pointers. This season, the Bucks and Rockets are scoring more than 40% of its points from long range, and Hawks, Hornets, Jazz and Suns are all greater than 36% scoring from 3-point range.
Through one full week and 46 games, a total of 2,219 fouls have been called for an average of 48.2 fouls per game, up from 39.8 fouls per game last season.
Free throws are averaging more than 51 per game, up from 43.4 last year. And 11 teams are making at least 20 free throws per game, while just one team made at least 20 per game last season.
Five teams, including the world champion Warriors, are shooting at least 49% field goals this early season, and only Golden State hit better than 49% shooting each of the last two seasons.
Will scoring continue at record pace?
There will always be a correction in the market, and bookmakers will adjust and post higher totals. Coaches and teams will make adjustments as well and defensive improvement and efficiency numbers will be something to monitor moving forward. Across the league, 10 of 30 teams are giving up at least 120 points per game. Through the end of play on the first Sunday last season, just two teams were giving up 120 on average. The Denver Nuggets are 3-0 SU/ATS and the only team to allow less than 100 points in all three contests including Sunday’s 100-98 win over Golden State.
Rule changes including shot clot reset are impacting play, pace and tighter calls are resulting in more fouls and free throws. More freedom of movement and increased scoring is what the NBA wants in hopes of providing a more entertaining brand of basketball. Perhaps it’s being overdone in the early season, but scoring is surging and record scoring is inevitable.
You can bet on it.
Certain songs tap into nostalgia, instill excitement and signify the beginning of a long-awaited time of year.
Shortly after Thanksgiving, radio stations begin blasting Christmas carols. March Madness starts playing “One Shining Moment.” Remember Hank Williams Jr? “Are you ready for some FOOTBALL!?”
For the NBA, the great anthem of John Tesh rings in the new year: Roundball Rock.
Lo, the NBA season has arrived. For sports betting as a whole, it becomes another arrow in the quiver of wagering options. For New Jersey sports betting, Kambi-powered mobile sportsbooks, per a release by the company, “will be the only place to go as the leading sports betting supplier prepares to offer a raft of updated props hoop-by-hoop.”
Kambi enters NBA realm
Certainly, the NFL will continue to attract the most attention and the most wagers. Football, after all, remains the most popular sports in the country.
The global influence of the NBA, however, could make the sport a contender. And with Kambi, not all NBA bets need rely solely on game outcomes.
According to the release, Kambi-powered sportsbooks in the Garden State will boast the “market-leading offer” beginning with Tuesday’s season-opening NBA games: Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics, Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden State Warriors.
Every day, Kambi will offer pre-game and in-play betting options as well as “in-running lines” on individual player totals that will update with each passing minute.
“The NBA has become extremely popular over the last few years, with the game becoming faster, smarter and teams relying on analytics more than ever before,” Stefanos Moysidis, Kambi Head of Live Basketball, said in the release. “Superstars are dominating games with a barrage of three-pointers and bettors are increasingly wanting to wager on high-profile players and choose their own lines. At Kambi we have embraced these changes and developed our offering to cater for this new and more informed audience.”
Of the eight mobile sportsbooks in New Jersey, three are powered by Kambi:
At each, according to the release, a variety of in-play wagers will be offered by Kambi, which already features “result of current drive” for NFL games and “nearest to the pin” in golf.
Take Tuesday’s Thunder-Warriors matchup. Is Golden State’s Steph Curry in a rhythm? Bet on the over on his individual points line as the game goes on. Is the Warriors’ Kevin Durant struggling from the field? Take the under on his point total.
A more-intricate wagering option has bettors predicting the next made field goal: two-pointer or 3-pointer. All told, Kambi’s in-play betting, to quote the release, creates “a fast-paced wagering experience from tip-off to final buzzer.”
In addition to in-play betting, Kambi will offer an array of pre-game alternative lines and relevant in-game lines, which allows bettors to be picky with which lines on which to wager rather than relying on the traditional point spread or moneyline.
So while Kambi continues to take advantage (and reap the rewards) of the popularity of the NFL season, do not forget about the NBA. With in-play wagering and the variety of lines offered, bettors will be able to stay engaged during any given NBA game, whether it comes down to the final shot or the Warriors run away with a 40-point win.
You can bet on that.
The 2018-19 NBA season tips off Tuesday night. The season is an inevitable slog with a predetermined final result: the Golden State Warriors will end up as champions again.
When ring-chasing-burner-account-having-uber-sensitive-rabbit-eared Kevin Durant joined the Warriors, the team basically broke basketball. Nobody really stands a chance if they’re at full strength.
While the Houston Rockets were a Chris Paul injury away from possibly upending the Warriors title run last year, they’ve taken a few ticks back this season. Nobody stacks up to Golden State. They’ve made the season irrelevant.
And they’re ruining NBA futures betting, too.
Basketball outright handle at an all-time low
The Warriors enter the season at -200 to three-peat. According to Sportsoddshistory.com, no other team in the past 30 years has been a pre-season odds-on favorite to win the championship. The Warriors have been a preseason favorite three years in a row.
This is impacting the overall handle on basketball outrights (future bets taken on winning the title).
It’s gotten so bad that handle on NHL futures EXCEEDS that of the NBA in Las Vegas. What the puck!?
Parity is the problem
The NBA is a star-driven league. A couple of superstars joining forces significantly shift a team’s championship odds. The Warriors have five potential Hall of Famers in their starting lineup (and maybe seven overall if Boogie Cousins gets his body and head right, or Andre Iguodala grinds out another Finals MVP). Their outright dominance kills the action.
Parity reigns supreme in the NHL, and to varying degrees in the NFL and MLB as well.
Unless you’re an obnoxious Golden State fan, their dominance has taken the fun out of the NBA season. They say money talks, and the lack of wagering on NBA futures backs it up.
Having said that, one bettor was willing to place a $67,736.25 wager on the Warriors to make the playoffs at -10,000 odds … so in six months he can cash in a whopping $677.35 return on that investment.
The Warriors start the season as 13-point favorites against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder title odds clock in at anywhere from +3000 at some Vegas sportsbooks to +3400 on FanDuel Sportsbook in New Jersey.
NBA outright title odds in NJ