Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 7:00 PM
This weekend’s NBA All-Star Break creates a schedule opening that should allow each and every one of you reading this to create accurate Power Ratings that you can use and update throughout the rest of the pro basketball season. Earlier this week we talked about how to make college basketball ratings. Now, we turn to the NBA!
Full season stats won’t change from Friday through Monday. That gives you plenty of time to grab, study, and learn from the data of games played to this point in the 2013-14 campaign. Here are some shortcuts you can use to get up to speed quickly.
USE UP-TO-DATE MARGIN AVERAGES AS A STARTING POINT
As we mentioned with “conference only” handicapping in college basketball, margin averages vs. comparable schedules show you the point scale very quickly. A team that’s +6 on average is a bucket better than a team that’s +4. They’re a full 12 points better than a team that’s -6. Most standings pages now show you margin differentials. Go to ESPN’s website to look up the NBA standings, or even the league’s own official website. It’s very easy to find these numbers. It’s ridiculous that so many bettors don’t even know what the averages are!
ADJUST BASED ON STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RANKINGS
You regulars know that we often reference the strength of schedule rankings provided by Jeff Sagarin of USA Today. We did that during playoff coverage in the NFL. We’ll probably do it again in playoff coverage of the NBA! Unbalanced schedules are particularly a problem in the NBA because the West is so much stronger than the East. That means Eastern teams often aren’t as good as their margin averages would suggest, while Western teams are a bit better. Look up Sagarin’s numbers, or use an alternative approach to tweak the full season averages for scheduling influences. (Note, if you’re using Sagarin, you can also check out his team ratings to see if his scale matches your scale. Feel free to tweak based on what you learn from his numbers).
COMPARE THE FULL SEASON AVERAGES TO RECENT VEGAS LINES
The problem with full season statistical averages and computer ratings based on full season results is that they may not reflect “right now” as tightly as you’d hoped. Maybe a superstar has to miss some time. Or, maybe a team has recently improved after a star player returned to the lineup. Since you’re trying to build Power Ratings that are current, tweak the full season averages based on any differences you see in Vegas lines from the past few days.
If a team with a +6 average is being priced more like a team that’s only +3, treat them like a +3. If a team that struggled much of the year to register a -7 is only being priced like a -4, give them the benefit of the doubt and price them as a -4. Trust the market to sharpen up the full season averages or computer ratings for you. You need to do the initial work to create a sense of scale. Then pin down teams better on the scale with recent pricing.
By the time the season resumes on Tuesday, you should have a good sense of where all 30 teams stand. Make line projections for Tuesday using 3 points for home court advantage. If there’s a difference between you and the Vegas line, try to figure out why. Then, monitor the on-court results to see of the teams play to your expectations, or the market’s expectations. Maybe you’ve done a better job than the market. Maybe you can learn from the market to get caught up…allowing you to do additional research to move ahead of the market as the season progresses.
Power Ratings are part of the full TEAM HANDICAPPING approach used by JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK. We use computers and are statheads to project lines for every game. But, we also talk to SCOUTS and SOURCES to get important information about injuries and team mindsets. And, we also talk to WISE GUY CONNECTIONS in Las Vegas and offshore to learn how sharps have been betting the games. It all comes together to create BIG, JUICY WINNERS!
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We hope our discussions of Power Ratings this week will help make you a better handicapper. Just remember that THE NUMBER ONE RATED HANDICAPPER OF ALL TIME is none other than JIM HURLEY!