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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, April 20, 2012 at 10:41 AM

With the NBA playoffs no imminent, I wanted to talk a bit about handicapping big picture propositions. How do you apply Advanced Handicapping principals to Futures prices (odds to win a conference or championship)? How do you apply Advanced Handicapping principals to picking a series winner?

The first thing you need to know is that professional wagerers rarely bet Futures prices. The odds just don’t offer any value. Everybody’s priced badly! Oddsmakers take a lot of liberties here because it’s mostly fans of teams who are betting, and that type of bettor has no sense of value. If a team’s “true” odds of winning the title are 10-1, they might be priced as badly 3-1. Advanced Handicapping teaches you to AVOID this kind of bet.

If a sharp handicapper does have a preference for a particularly team winning a title…because he believes they’re ideally suited to advance through their probable schedule…he will use an open-ended parlay and just keep filling that team in round-by-round at their series prices. That almost always pays off more than the Futures price on the same team. Usually it pays off A LOT more. Occasionally, the payoffs will come out about the same. I suggest the open-ended parlay approach if you have a team you’re interested in backing for a conference or overall winner in the NBA playoffs.

What are the best ways to pick NBA teams with the big picture in mind? I use the same fundamentals here as I would in a “team vs. team” matchup in an individual game. You can stop right there in terms of a series matchup. If you’re thinking long term, then it’s “team vs. the field,” or even “team as compares to the standard championship profile.”

Let me outline the standard championship profile:

*I always start with PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS because this is what determines games, and what determines games determines who wins a series. This is particularly true in the NBA. I defy you to find an NBA championship that wasn’t led by either a superstar scorer, or a collection of high quality scorers who reached superstar status because of their great teamwork.

*In terms of winning championships, I immediately move to COACHING. It’s surprising how few different coaches have won championships over the last few decades. A certain mindset will get the job done. A certain mindset will fall apart under pressure. Be sure you’ve studied all the playoff coaches this year with pressure performance in mind. Many current playoff-bound teams can be eliminated as true threats to go the distance simply because their head coaches aren’t ideally suited to the challenges ahead.

*I like to combine DEFENSE and REBOUNDING together into one group because they’re so linked together. Defensively, rebounding is part of the picture…because every defensive rebound you grab works out the same as a steal. The other team had the ball. Now they don’t. It is possible to go the distance without a truly great defense. But, you at least have to be pretty good on that side of the ball. Don’t make the mistake of chasing mediocre defensive teams just because you’re in love with scoring. Playmakers are still very important obviously. It’s just that they’re determining who wins 84-82 type games, or 94-90 type games, rather than 105-101 type games.

It would serve your handicapping well to rank all playoff bound teams RIGHT NOW in these categories. It will help you find highly regarded seeds who may not be as well-suited to the postseason as you thought. It will certainly help you find a darkhorse among the lesser seeds who have a chance to do real damage. I suggest reviewing last year’s playoffs as well because there are a lot of similarities this year in terms of playmakers, coaches, and team styles. Are there disappointments from last year who have fixed their vulnerabilities? Are their surprises from last year who are better off, or worse off? Start thinking about these questions NOW rather than in a week.

I’ll bounce back to Major League Baseball for my next report that will run early next week. I’ll probably be a bit more NBA heavy in the rotation once the playoffs start. We’ll see how the matchups play out, and I’ll do my best to read and react to developments on the fly. Part of Advanced Handicapping is understanding what you’re seeing as it happens, then betting on found edges before the market has a chance to adjust. I hope to show you that in real time during this year’s playoffs. I wanted to make sure I set the stage for you today so you could do the advance work

Reaching championship performance in your handicapping has parallels to how NBA teams reach championship level performance down the stretch in the regular season and then in the playoffs. You need to be focused on doing the right things, and doing them all the time. I’m continually gratified that so many of you have been learning from these articles and putting Advanced principals into practice. If you’re new to the website and struggling with your own picks, please remember that my top daily plays can be purchased at this very website with your credit card. One way or another, KELSO STURGEON will make you a winner!

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