A Tanking Trend to Know for Two Wednesday NBA Games
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Tanking is a dirty word in the NBA. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined $600,000 by the league for talking about tanking last week. Commissioner Adam Silver wants to disincentive tanking and is considering draft lottery reform as well as expanding the playoffs. However, until something changes “losing is our best option”, as Cuban said, and that applies to a record number of teams this season.
There are currently eight franchises on pace to win fewer than 30 games. That has never happened in a full 82-game NBA season. With many experts predicting a loaded NBA draft, it is a race to the bottom. Instead of trying to collect wins, teams want ping pong balls.
How can bettors profit from tanking in the NBA? We’ve got a trend with a 601-game sample, and two games that match on Wednesday. Let’s dive in.
Historically, there has been value buying low and taking the league’s worst teams, though that isn’t the case late in the season. Using the Bet Labs database, we can see that teams with a losing record after the All-Star break (approximately game number 55 or later) have been a bad bet when facing an opponent with a winning record since 2005.
Teams with losing records consistently fail to cover the spread against teams with winning records late in the season. The spread is supposed to account for a team’s lack of talent but even Vegas has a hard time adjusting for a tanking team’s motivation or lack thereof.
By fading teams that aren’t giving it their all, we find a profitable betting system. Betting against home underdogs that have won less than 40% of their games late in the season when facing an opponent with a winning record has gone 345-245-11 (58.5%) ATS since 2005. With a significant sample size and consistent year-to-year results (only one losing season in the last 10 years), fading tanking teams is a sharp play.
Note: In this system we ignore games against opponents that have won 70% or more of games as the league’s elite squads tend to be overvalued by public bettors.
Here are two games on Wednesday featuring teams in the tank.
Pacers at Hawks: Atlanta (18-43) is the worst team in the East and has lost six of its last seven games. The Hawks have been underdogs to the Pacers twice this season going 0-2 straight-up and ATS.
Thunder at Mavericks: Dallas snapped a four-game losing streak with a win on Monday. Fading tanking teams off a win using our betting strategy has gone 105-60-2 (63.6%) ATS since 2005. Of course, Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki (pictured above) has said he disagrees with tanking. Dirk doesn’t want losing to become a habit but history is against the future Hall of Famer.
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Photo via Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports