Betting against the spread is one of the most popular NBA wagers available. Today the ScoreMetrics Lab explores the overall ATS trends we’ve had so far during the 2019-2020 season. We’ll also further analyze this season’s ATS leader to find out if we can make a solid investment case.
Before moving any further though, we’d like to remind you that we’ve been treating our readers with plenty of quality NBA analysis over the past few weeks. If basketball investing is your thing, you’ll find a lot of interesting content from the site:
- NBA First Half Investing
- What Happens When a High Scoring Team Faces a Good Defense?
- NBA Western Conference Futures
- Can You Really Profit from the Best Team in the NBA?
- Are There Any Profits in Investing in the Houston Rockets This Season?
- Investing in a Superstar – Kawhi Leonard
We’ll keep you updated all season long, so make sure to follow us!
And for even more articles on how to profit with sports investing, visit the ScoreMetrics Lab here.
Overall ATS records
Let’s begin by looking at how teams have performed overall against the spread this season:
Note that all tables in this article were updated on the 6th of February 2020.
There’s a lot that we could get into here to find an investment case worth our time, but let’s focus on one example in the form of this season’s ATS leader.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have had a season that has surprised many, including the bookmakers. The backcourt trio of Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schröder have been poison to opponents, and the Thunder are almost certain to make the playoffs in the extremely tough Western Conference.
This is not what was expected in the preseason. OKC shipped off Paul George and Russell Westbrook, essentially starting a rebuild. Many thought that they’d be moving their remaining veteran pieces. But OKC are now looking more like a solid playoff team that has no interest in letting go of key contributors, unless an offer of great value emerges before the trade deadline.
Investing $100 on OKC covering the spread in each of their games this season would have left investors with a profit of $1,360 so far. That’s a 26.7% ROI for a total of $5,100 invested.
It’s easy to say in hindsight that the investment above would have been pretty decent. But is there something useful to be found for future investments if we start dissecting the ATS data?
Let’s look at how teams fared against the spread home and away.
So, Miami, who are 3rd in overall ATS with a 59.6% win record, have done a lot of their damage at home. That’s a lovely percentage of ATS wins at home for the Heat.
But where’s OKC, our overall ATS leader this season? Close to the middle at 53.8%. That can only mean one thing…
Yep, the Thunder have been obliterating their ATS line in away games this season! Can we find a logical reason for that, besides the team being better than expected?
Let’s try to find something from their last ten ATS wins:
You’ll notice that OKC were underdogs in six of these wins and were clearly favored in only two of the occasions by the bookmakers.
Turn the tables around and you’ll find that many of OKC’s ATS losses this season have come in games where they have been the clear favorites.
So, we found something to think about when assessing OKC against the spread for the remainder of the NBA season. A lot of their ATS wins have come from away games where they’re either the underdog or a slight favorite.
But can we make long-term conclusions based on this information?
NBA rosters often experience a lot of turnover year-to-year, and it might be hard to find relevant team specific patterns that last for a long period of time because of that. And that’s what we’re trying to achieve here at the ScoreMetrics Lab if we want to add something to be a part of our sports investment systems.
Oklahoma City are the ATS kings of this season. Last year they covered the spread in 50.6% of their games, but that doesn’t feel very relevant for assessing how the current trend might continue when they’re fielding a drastically different team. And with OKC looking to rebuild, their squad might be completely different again come next season.
Regarding the rest of the season, should we expect the Thunder to keep on bringing value for ATS investors?
It depends. There are a lot of factors that should be taken into consideration when assessing the case. Injuries and hot or cold streaks might affect key players. Trades or buyout market acquisitions might change their outlook. The opponents they’ll still need to face and rest advantages or disadvantages for single games matter. So does the fact that the bookmakers will certainly try to adjust their lines to cut their losses.
So, while exploiting these recent trends can be profitable in the short term as a part of your investment analysis, make sure you realize that they are just that – trends that are highly contextual and likely to change.
Putting down money blindly based on these numbers will probably make for a bad investment, while utilizing them as a part of thorough analysis makes it likelier to find good opportunities.
Speaking of opportunities: our very own John Todora’s new book – “Zero Correlation Investing – The Score Metrics Secret” is on sale for a limited time now. Make sure to take advantage of this deal and learn how to build your own sports investment systems!
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.