Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks are having a dream season. The Bucks are well on their way to become only the third team in NBA history to win 70 or more games during the regular season. They clinched a spot in the playoffs a week after the All-Star Game. No team has ever secured their spot for the postseason so early.
The Greek Freak himself is averaging 29.7 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists this season while playing less than 31 minutes per game. With a PER of 32.12, no player in the history of the league has ever been as efficient as him. Giannis will surely win the MVP vote again this season unless something drastic happens.
In this previous article from earlier this year, we already concluded that Giannis’ Bucks have provided investors with solid returns over the last couple of years. Today we’ll take a look at how these trends have held up, and whether we can uncover some longer-term patterns for Giannis’ career that are relevant to sports traders.
Giannis against the spread
Let’s begin by looking at how Antetokounmpo’s team has fared against the spread in recent years and throughout his career since the beginning of 2013:
The Bucks have the third best ATS record in the league so far this season. They have been by far the best team against the spread since the beginning of 2018 with a winning percentage of 60.5% (Dallas is second with a 56.5% record).
Their ATS records against teams in the East, and especially teams in their division, have been incredible during the past two seasons. Investing blindly in the Bucks against division opponents since the beginning of last season has provided a ROI of 49%! They’ve got three more division games coming up this season against Indiana, Cleveland and Detroit.
At 57.8%, Milwaukee’s ATS record against division opponents has actually been clearly positive for the whole duration of Giannis’s NBA career. It’s rather surprising to find a record that holds up so well against the spread for such a long period of time. Bookmakers are usually very good at adjusting their lines to even things out in the long run.
But Antetokounmpo has clearly taken a leap forward in his development in every year that he’s been in the league, and Milwaukee has been able to gradually make the team around him better. One could argue that they’ve beaten expectations every year during Giannis’ career, which could also explain why they’ve performed so well against the spread.
Is it possible that they’ll continue defying the odds in similar fashion? It will probably be hard to do so after a season like this. The bookmakers will surely start favoring them by even more points.
Recent Bucks ATS trends
Earlier this year, we looked at some of the hottest ATS and O/U trends of the Bucks and the Lakers in a playful investment matchup between the two best teams in the NBA.
Since that article, the Bucks have actually improved their ATS record. Normally one should expect that the bookmakers are able to adjust and the numbers will start evening out during the second half of the season.
But the Bucks just keep on demolishing opponents. Just look at their last 10 ATS performances:
W by 12
W by 11
W by 16
W by 12
L by 7
W by 20
W by 21
W by 3
W by 11
W by 47
No signs of slowing down there!
Besides Antetokounmpo’s unbelievable performance, we should also give a lot of credit to their versatile roster. Most of their key players have improved from last season, and coach Mike Budenholzer’s system has been working extremely well.
One thing that investors could look further into: bookmakers have favored the Bucks by 10 or more points 30 times so far this season. Out of those games, they are only 47% against the spread.
Giannis’ Bucks and the Over/Under
Let’s move on to take a quick peek at how the over/under splits look like for Giannis and the Bucks:
With rest advantage
With rest disadvantage
A couple of numbers pop out here. Milwaukee’s games against conference rivals have had a tendency of going under, while games against non-conference rivals have been going over.
Should we be surprised that Milwaukee’s games against conference and division opponents have been going under in recent years? Probably not since they’ve been clearly one of the best defensive teams in the league and their opponents in the East have definitely been weaker when compared to the West.
Regarding the rest related numbers on this table, it should be noted that the single season sample sizes for these situations are small. But it’s very interesting to notice that all of the rest trends that we’re seeing here have held up since the beginning of Giannis’ career. Even though the percentage numbers are obviously lower since the beginning of 2013, we can still say that Milwaukee’s games with no rest and with a rest disadvantage compared to their opponents have had the tendency of going under, while they’ve been hitting the over when they’ve had a rest advantage over their opponents.
The Bucks have two “no rest” games (second night of a back-to-back) remaining this season – at Denver on March 9th and against Atlanta on April 12th. Besides these games having trended towards the under recently, it should be noted that the Bucks are 87.5% ATS (7-1) in these situations.
The ScoreMetrics Labs uncovered a bunch of interesting ATS and O/U related trends in this article, some of which have held up with some significance over the whole of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s seven-year career.
Even though many of these trends would have provided profitable returns on their own, it should be noted that those returns start looking very slim or non-existent over a longer run. Due to that, they don’t meet our investment criteria as they are.
So, take these as example threads to explore further and try to build hypotheses around them to find long-term profitable investment cases. And if you need any help with that, don’t forget to check out our head trader John Todora’s new book – “Zero Correlation Investing – The Score Metrics Secret”. It’s currently on sale for a limited time, so go get yours now!
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.