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A lot of factors are considered by expert NBA bettors, both in terms of on-field performance and the betting market. For example, many smart bettors are keenly aware of line movement and which sportsbooks post the best prices. But one of the most important factors is building out NBA projections that can be measured against lines in the market.
How NBA Projections Work
There are many ways to build NBA projections, be it with a statistical model, using the betting market as a guide, or something else. And even within a statistical model, NBA handicappers can vary in how they approach building it, focusing on team performance, player performance, or perhaps a hybrid blend of both.
At The Action Network, our NBA projections are projection blends of several of our key betting experts. How they approach their final numbers on a game might vary, but the blend of those projections work to create a better, composite number that is our best reflection of what to expect in a game.
We project the three big markets in NBA betting -- spreads, over/unders, and moneylines -- and do so for every game in each season. Within our PRO Report -- part of our PRO subscription -- we'll measure those projections against lines for every U.S. book, so you can easily spot edges and potential bets.
A lot of our experts rely on advanced statistics to build their models and get their numbers on games, and of course it's incredibly important when building NBA projections to be aware of news and injuries.
It's not unreasonable to see a line move 6-7 points or more if a star is suddenly ruled out ahead of a game. Using advanced stats, along with a variety of other important factors like recent play, advantages for a team on offense and defense, player values, news, predicting home-court advantage and rest situations is how our experts land on the numbers you see above.
The Action Network's NBA Projections
Our NBA experts will provide consensus projections for every NBA game's spread, moneyline, and over/under. On this page you'll then find those projections compared to the market in two ways: 1) the edge, which is the percentage difference between a sportsbook's odds vs. our projections and 2) a letter grade based on that edge.
The two comparisons are correlated, so don't stress about which you use. We show the edge to be transparent for bettors, and some advanced bettors will bet based on the Kelly criterion, which adjusts bet sizes based on projected edge. But if you just want to quickly eye things, the "A" through "F" grades are based on those edge numbers and might be easier to understand for novice bettors. Both comparisons are color-coded with the highest edges and "A" grades given a green coloring while negative edges and "F" grades will have red markings.
Spread projections will be compared to the consensus line in the market, but of course, spread numbers will vary based on the book, so in reality, sometimes your edge can be higher if you find a good number.
If you're unfamiliar, spread bets are one of the most common wagers on the NBA: They're simply bets on the margin of victory. Say the Los Angeles Lakers have a spread of -6.5 vs. the Sacramento Kings. In that situation, a spread bet on the Lakers would cash if they won by a 7 points or more. A bet on the Kings at +6.5 would cash if they won the game outright or merely lost by six or fewer points.
When it comes to totals or over/unders, which are bets on the combined point output in a game, you'll see a total number posted at a sportsbook and you'll be able to bet the over or under. Say the Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks game has a total of 205 points: Bettors on the under would cash if the teams combined for 206 or fewer points; over bettors would win at 204 or more. An exact total of 205 would be a push and the bet would be voided.
In moneyline betting, which is a common wager type just on which team will win the game outright, everything here depends on the likelihood of a team winning (the odds a book will post) vs. how likely our NBA projections say that team is to win.
It's easiest if you think about moneyline odds in terms of $10 or $100 increments. Say the Orlando Magic are +250 on the moneyline vs. the Chicago Bulls, who are -290. If you bet $10 on the Magic and they won, you would receive $25 in profit. A bet on the Bulls, who are favored, would require $29 bet to win $10 in the event of a victory.