Bucks vs. Lakers – Who Wins the Investment Matchup?
Today’s study was done by Mikka in the ScoreMetrics lab and we wanted to get into a more obvious theory, which is; if we just invest in the teams that win the most, can we actually turn a profit from that investment? Well the results are certainly interesting, to say the least. We do warn you though that this is an incomplete study, at best, as we only found trends that are relevant to this year and not long running patterns you can build a system around.
This information is super interesting though and Mikka did a great job sourcing it for us. I feel like there is a lesson in here though. – JT
The two teams with the best records in the NBA. Three out of the top five players this season play for them. The reigning MVP. Showtime. The Freak, the King and the Brow.
Yep, we’re talking about the 38-6 Milwaukee Bucks and the 34-8 Los Angeles Lakers. This seasons marquee matchup seems like a very possible Finals pairing as well. But which team is a better investment case for your money?
To make this a fair series, the ScoreMetrics labs looked at data from the 2019-2020 and 2018-2019 seasons (the beginning of the LeBron era in LA & Giannis Antetokounmpo’s MVP season), pinpointed the top edges to be found during the current season and since 2018 for each team, and threw them all together to determine which team would have brought more money in for an investor.
Along the way, we found out interesting trends that you can look into when making investment decisions. Let’s zoom in.
Bucks this season
The Bucks have the honor of going first due to their number one record in the league.
Top 3 Bucks ATS trends this season:
85.7% ATS with no rest (7 games)
80.0% ATS against division rivals (10 games)
65.4% ATS against conference rivals (28 games)
In short, the Bucks have been bashing teams in the East and straight-up obliterating their rivals in the weak Central Division. The surprising one here is the no rest ATS%. The Bucks have covered the spread in all but one of their games when they’ve had no rest, meaning the second night of a back-to-back. All very interesting trends.
Top 3 Bucks O/U trends this season:
66.7% OVER with 2-3 days off between games (6 games)
61.1% OVER against non-conference rivals (18 games)
58.3% OVER with a rest advantage over the opponent (12 games)
The Over/Under trends are not as striking as the ones for ATS, but they’re still interesting. Hitting the over when well rested makes sense intuitively, but it could be seen as a surprise that the Bucks have hit the over with a good clip against opponents from the tougher Western conference.
Lakers this season
Let’s move on to LA and see how they fared.
Top 3 Lakers ATS trends this season:
85.7% ATS as underdogs (7 games)
80.0% ATS with no rest (5 games)
60.0% ATS with a rest advantage over the opponent (10 games)
Solid numbers here, but obviously small sample sizes. The no rest trend pops up here for LA as well. For comparison, the only team that has done better on that front this season than the Lakers and the Bucks are the Oklahoma City Thunder who are 100% ATS in 7 games when they’ve had no rest.
Top 3 Lakers O/U trends this season:
83.3% UNDER against division rivals (6 games)
71.4% OVER as underdogs (7 games)
60.0% UNDER with a rest disadvantage compared the opponent (10 games)
Tough times against division rivals for LeBron’s squad. Going over so often as underdogs is a nice feat. Who dares to rank the Lakers as underdogs though?
Bucks since 2018
Moving on to a larger sample size. We’re now looking at patterns from the beginning of the 2018-2019 season all the way up to today.
Top 3 Bucks ATS patterns since 2018:
82.8% ATS against division rivals (30 games)
71.9% ATS after a loss (32 games)
65.6% ATS against conference rivals (93 games)
Now we’re hitting the jackpot. The Bucks have been destroying divisions rivals regularly and have a statistically significant sample for covering the spread against the Eastern Conference.
Top 3 Bucks O/U patterns since 2018:
60.7% OVER with 2-3 days off between games (29 games)
60.6% OVER with a rest advantage over the opponent (24 games)
58.3% OVER against non-conference rivals (48 games)
These are the exact same statistics we listed for the Bucks for this season and the numbers are in the same ballpark even though the sample size is much larger.
Lakers since 2018
Finally, let’s inspect the top patterns for the Lakers since the beginning of the 2018-2019 season.
Top 3 Lakers ATS patterns since 2018:
62.1% ATS as away underdogs (29 games)
61.1% ATS with no rest (18 games)
55.1% ATS with a rest advantage over the opponent (29 games)
Similar than the one’s we’re looking at this season, but the win percentages are lower over a longer period of time.
Top 3 Lakers O/U patterns since 2018:
76.5% UNDER with no rest (18 games)
68.2% UNDER against division rivals (22 games)
65.2% UNDER at home (62 games)
LA has constantly been hitting the under against rivals from the Pacific Division. Going under at home so often is astonishing – no other team has a higher rate since the beginning of the 2018-2019 season.
Ok, so the ScoreMetrics labs uncovered the top 3 juiciest ATS and O/U patterns and trends with the best ROI for you from both this season and since 2018. There’s a lot of interesting stuff there that you can explore further when making better investment decisions.
But which team ended up being the better investment? We calculated the returns from each of the listed samples to find out. We added an investment of $100 for each game belonging to the sample, calculated the returns and compared them to the total amount of dollars invested.
Here are the results.
The Milwaukee Bucks:
$33 700 invested
+ $8726 ROI (26%)
The Los Angeles Lakers:
$22 300 invested
+ $5474 ROI (25%)
The Bucks win only slightly when we look at ROI%, but the volume makes their statistical case much stronger and leaves us with more than $3000 worth of extra profit compared to the Lakers.
This trophy for this one is heading to Wisconsin!
The ScoreMetrics Lab is the engine that runs the Sports Trading System operation, consisting of a team of researchers and writers who are constantly testing and retesting algorithms. They work hand in hand with our Head Trader and Creator of ScoreMetrics, John Todora to help find new breakthroughs and develop new systems.