How to Bet NBA Summer League


Photo credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: NBA Summer League in Las Vegas

  • NBA Summer League betting has been historically a very inefficient market, allowing bettors to find profitable edges.
  • Below we'll walk through how to bet spreads, moneylines and over/unders for NBA Summer League action.

The NBA Summer League features plenty of unknowns: We’re often seeing completely new teams with guys who have never played with each other before, rookies getting their first taste of NBA experience and veterans who are floating around various leagues.

But that’s what makes it potentially profitable for bettors. Let’s go through a couple ways to find an edge for NBA Summer League betting.

One note of before we begin : The below trends are based on historical data, and it’s possible bookmakers could adjust for these inefficiencies this year. It’s also a smaller sample size of data (3 years) compared to other markets (more than a decade).

Tip No. 1: Target Underdogs

Because of all the uncertainty surrounding the players and specific lineups at Summer League, you can often find value betting on underdogs. It makes sense: If there’s a ton of uncertainty around a game, why not grab the points?

Since 2016, which is when we started collecting Summer League data at Bet Labs, underdogs have gone 171-108-7 (61.3%) against-the-spread (ATS), covering by an average of 3.38 points. A bettor wagering $100 on all dogs would be up $5,083 right now, good for a 17.8% Return on Investment (ROI).

If you want to increase that cover rate a little more, follow the trend laid out here by my colleague John Ewing, and grab the points with unpopular dogs.

  • Dogs getting fewer than 50% of bets: 63.0% ATS
  • Dogs getting fewer than 40% of bets: 68.5% ATS
  • Dogs getting fewer than 30% of bets: 80.0% ATS

Eighty percent! Talk about a profitable trend.

Let’s talk moneylines and over/unders next.

Tip No. 2: Target Dogs on the Moneyline, Too

Dogs don’t just cover at a high rate, though. They often win straight-up enough to make some cash for moneyline bettors. Overall since 2016, dogs have gone 92-92 (50.0%) straight up, but since they’re getting plus odds, they’ve been very profitable, especially as unpopular bets:

Dogs getting 50% or fewer ML bets have produced a 22.2% ROI, and if those teams are also getting 50% or fewer spread bets, they’ve given bettors an astounding 31.5% ROI.

Tip No. 3: Follow Movement on Overs

Overall, overs have been solid bets, hitting at a 55.7% rate over the last couple of years. That said, bookmakers wised up to that trend last year, as overs went just 46-44 for a -2.0% ROI after posting respective ROIs of 15.1% and 9.1% the previous two years.

That said, it’s still been wise to follow sharp money on overs. We have data from only last year in Bet Labs for this trend, but despite overs being mediocre bets, the ones that saw more a higher percentage of money than bets and rose as a result did very well:

Good luck this summer!

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