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Why preseason NBA rankings are important to your betting
Dec 16, 2021, 3:30:00 AM

Why preseason NBA rankings are important to your betting

During the NBA preseason, rankings are made to list the title favourites. With this, sports betting has become easier because punters use them as a basis for the bets they will make. Let’s talk about why these preseason NBA rankings are important for people’s betting journeys.

If you look at the NBA, you can see that the league is filled with teams of different tiers. Some bettors are not aware of the strong teams in the NBA because overlooking teams is another factor. They need to realize that the NBA has its fair share of title contenders but some teams are rebuilding their rosters.

The betting industry is reliant on the power rankings in the preseason and you can expect the markets to shift from time to time but you can also see the vice versa happening. If you’re an NBA fan, you might have heard people talking about ‘Las Vegas odds’ and how they use it as a reason to bet on a certain team or result.

If you look back at the 2020-21 season, most rankings had the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets as the top two teams but since they suffered major injuries, they did not make the NBA Finals.

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What are NBA preseason rankings?

While we have talked about some of the implications of these rankings, we need to first talk about the nature of these rankings themselves. When you log on to certain sports news websites or the NBA website itself, you can see that they track the performance of all 30 teams and release power rankings of all the squads.

This is used to not only track the NBA season but it is also used as a primary tool for punditry. It has become a strong part of the betting world because the bettors gravitate to the best teams in the league. They also look at the underdogs who can potentially pull off an upset.

Since the gambling world is reliant on odds, betting on the winners might not help you get a handsome amount of rewards. If you bet on the underdog, the bettor will be given better rewards.

These preseason rankings are not made out of thin air like non-sports fans might think. They are meticulously created with solid analysis involved. Of course, the official NBA power rankings are not the only ones that bettors can use because almost every major sports media outlet have their own.

With many choices, you can expect these NBA rankings to be useful because you can get different takes on a team’s status and what they look like heading into the regular season. If you see a team that is overwhelmingly strong in the rankings, you can expect that they will also be popular in the betting markets. However, you should also take them with a grain of salt because they might not pan out well.

Finding the right balance between using these rankings as a tool and your betting will be the best move for you to win more significant rewards.

NBA team rankings play a role in teams’ roster moves

Aside from bettors and fans, teams also check these rankings. Since they keep up with these rankings, front office executives look to take the league’s temperature. If a team like the Memphis Grizzlies want to improve their roster, they are looking at other teams who are either looking to trade their players or are setting a good example for them to follow.

The Grizzlies themselves normally sit in the middle of the pack but they are always looking at the rankings to see the strongest teams. They have followed the Golden State Warriors’ model for success with their roster moves by using a guard as the centrepiece. With Ja Morant as their star player, they have their own version of Stephen Curry. If they can build their roster better, you can expect them to be a top team in the future.

Roster moves are important in the NBA and it is one of the biggest parts of success. Team rankings play a huge role in a team’s desire to initiate change. Teams like the Indiana Pacers have always been strong in the rankings but they have not reached the top tier. In late 2021, the team decided to finally make significant roster moves because their fans were not interested in losing every year without a direction.

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NBA player power rankings motivate stars to perform at their peak

Teams are not the only NBA assets ranked by the experts. You can also expect that the stars will also be involved in NBA player power rankings. There are different kinds of lists made about the players, especially for the award races. The NBA MVP Power Rankings is certainly a huge part of an NBA season because it sparks debates about who is the best player in the league.

The MVP is not the only award contested because the NBA also has Sixth Man of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Most Improved Player. All of these awards are motivating factors for certain players and popular betting markets. These rankings are typically named award ladders which can easily be seen on search engines.

These player rankings have become a source of motivation for most players to strive harder and get noticed by the national media that overlooks them. Being ignored by the media has been an issue given that there are players who disagree with the lists.

Damian Lillard is a big-name player but he has not been respected by the national media for the longest time. When it comes to the player rankings, he has not placed as high as he would’ve loved. He has used that as a source of motivation for the longest time as he proved himself as one of the best point guards in the league.

This has also happened in the ROY award race back in the 2020-21 season. LaMelo Ball was the favourite to win the award, while Anthony Edwards was the main contender. Ball would end up winning the award at the end of the season but Edwards bucked a slow start to become one of the most promising players in the league using the motivation from the rankings. A similar situation happened back in the 2017-18 season when Donovan Mitchell lost to Ben Simmons in the race for the same award.

NBA preseason rankings dictate the betting market

Before the season starts, teams usually make roster moves in the offseason that can affect their standing among the rest of the NBA. The preseason rankings will reflect this because you will see certain teams going up and others going down. Usually, the teams would be separated into different tiers like title contenders, playoff teams, playoff contenders, and draft lottery teams.

Let’s take a look at some recent examples of how the preseason rankings have changed the betting market. This is important given that you can win huge rewards or lose out on the chance of winning a small semblance of rewards.

The 2021-22 Chicago Bulls

When the Chicago Bulls signed DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball, and Alex Caruso in the 2021 offseason, most casual basketball fans were perplexed when they saw the squad so high in the power rankings. This led to a shift in the betting markets because the Bulls became one of the strong choices. Of course, they were not labelled as title contenders but they were a strong dark horse for the playoffs in the rankings and then the markets.

With a revamped starting lineup around star player Zach LaVine, the Bulls quickly grew into one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. That matters in the betting market because bettors have more options for their wagers. With the East, the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat were the only logical choices during that time but the Bulls proved that they deserved an opportunity to shine too.

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The 2018-19 Toronto Raptors

In hindsight, the Toronto Raptors winning the 2019 NBA title should’ve been a popular choice. In the 2018 offseason, most casual fans were sceptical about Kawhi Leonard’s status because of the number of games he missed in the final stretch of his San Antonio Spurs stint under coach Gregg Popovich.

Most fans were still stuck in the mindset that the Raps would struggle in the playoffs again. They should have seen that since LeBron James was not with the Cleveland Cavaliers anymore, the East was wide open. Before his injury struggles with the Spurs, Kawhi was a top-four player and with a new situation, he was set to bounce back.

If most experts saw Kawhi moving to the Raps working out successfully, the betting market would’ve been much friendlier to the eventual champs. That season, the Golden State Warriors were the deserved favourites from the Western Conference but the East’s top dogs were the Bucks and the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Raps would end up winning the title bucking most fans and critics of the DeMar for Kawhi trade. This is a time when the preseason rankings did not reflect what happened in the season because they were too caught up in the narrative. In hindsight, everyone should’ve seen this coming given that Kawhi pairing up with Kyle Lowry was a tantalizing prospect.

The NBA season can play out like predicted but it can change

The NBA season is predictable at times like the period from 2016 to 2018 when the Warriors were the absolute favourites to win the title. However, it can also be unpredictable like the 2020-21 season when almost everyone expected the Lakers to win. They were eliminated in the first round by the Phoenix Suns who would end up playing in the NBA Finals against the Bucks.

This is not exclusive to the results because player awards are also important here. The league faces so many problems during the season but nothing compares to major injuries. When star players are hit with major injuries, you can expect that the league will shift in a different direction.

A recent example of this is Jamal Murray’s injury during the 2020-21 season. With the Lakers struggling, the race for the West was wide open. The Suns took advantage of the situation as they beat the short-handed Lakers but the Denver Nuggets were primed to take over the West at the time.

Murray was an important piece of the system as he was the Nuggets’ second star. He also proved that he can explode in the 2020 NBA Bubble Playoffs when he kept up with the Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell’s insane scoring pace. Since Nikola Jokić was the NBA’s MVP back in the 2020-21 season, Murray was supposed to be a primary option but the Nuggets struggled without the fiery guard.

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Experts usually get their predictions right

When you look at the rankings, you can see that the NBA experts are awesome at their jobs. They can predict what is going to happen in a season and most of the time, they’re right.

Of course, you can’t predict a freak injury like Jusuf Nurkić’s broken leg back in the 2018-19 season. It affected the Portland Trail Blazers’ potential title run during that season as the Warriors were in their most vulnerable state. That kind of injury messes up the experts’ predictions but they are still mostly correct with their takes.

You should not be afraid of trusting these rankings because they usually have solid reasons why they’re ordered that way. Aside from this, you should also have your own opinions on the matter because solely relying on the rankings is a bad move. You should find the balance between your own opinion and the rankings so you can be satisfied with the bets that you will make.

Since you have multiple choices for rankings to read, you can create an opinion for yourself to pair with the potential analysis that you did on these teams as well. Most of the time, people will say that betting on the NBA is hard but it will become easier if you know what you’re doing even before the season starts.

The NBA preseason matters to how the regular season works

The preseason might not be a meaningful time for some people but it has become one of the most important parts of an NBA season. Some games are played but they are usually filled with bench players or rookies. However, when the starters do play, you can see how they will perform in the regular season.

The 2021-22 Warriors team is solid proof that a team’s performance in the preseason was a good preview of what they’re going to do in the regular season. Most fans would dismiss the preseason but it has worked as a solid previous over the years and bettors need to understand that this part of an NBA season matters in the betting context.

Preseason also has consequences when it comes to tactics being scouted and unfortunately, injuries can still happen here. If you look at a player’s preseason activities, they might be susceptible to injuries which is what happened to Paul George back in 2014 when he broke his leg in a preseason game for Team USA.

If you want to succeed in the NBA betting markets, you should know that the league is always in motion. This constant flux is hard to gauge at times but you will get used to it as you continue to bet on the league.

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Words: Cholo Martin

Image: PA



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