NBA Betting: Best Teams ATS
by Trevor Whenham - 12/03/2008
It seems hard to believe, but we are already more than 20 percent into the NBA season. Some things have turned out exactly like we expected, some teams are much better than we thought, some have disappointed, and there have been a few real surprises. There are all sorts of things we could talk about, but really only one thing matters - making money. With that in mind, let's look at the four teams that have been kinder to bettors than any others in the league. It's interesting to note that there are only just eight teams in the league that have been profitable on the season. That's proof of just how hard it is for most people to make money betting on pro hoops. Besides the four on this list, the other teams that are currently profitable include the Nets, Lakers, Trail Blazers, and Bulls.
Cleveland Cavaliers - The Cavs have a King at the helm of their team, and that has helped them become the kings of the ATS world in the NBA. They are an impressive 13-4 ATS, and they have covered five in a row and eight of nine. It doesn't take particularly in-depth analysis to determine why they are succeeding like they are - Only the Lakers have outscored their opponents by more per game than Cleveland has. They are sitting in fourth in both points scored and points allowed. They are the third best team in the league at both field goal shooting and defending the field goal. They still don't have a lot of depth or support for the big guy - almost certainly not enough to keep him in town beyond next year. What they do have, though, is really working. They have only lost three games, and 11 of their 13 covers, including the last 10, have come as favorites. If I was looking to be critical I could point out that they haven't played a particularly tough schedule yet, and that they have lost to the three best teams they have faced. Luckily, I don't want to be critical.
Milwaukee Bucks - Scott Skiles may be one of the more annoying guys in basketball, but his return to the team that drafted him has shown us again that he knows how to coach - at least when he first joins a team. The Bucks were an absolute betting disaster last year at 34-47 ATS. It's hard to believe that they are the same franchise that is second best in the league at 12-6-1 ATS. Unlike Cleveland, Milwaukee is rewarding bettors in ways that just aren't showing up on the court - they are only 7-12. Milwaukee has only been favored three times all year (2-1 ATS), so the bulk of their success has come from being not quite as bad as people think that they are. There are a few reasons for that - Richard Jefferson has fit in well, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute has been far more valuable than expected, and Ramon Sessions has been a revelation. The biggest reason, though, is a bit of a surprise - the long-term injury of Michael Redd. Redd is by far the highest profile Buck, and perhaps the only one that a lot of people can name. His injury - his ankle kept him out for 14 games - was enough to make people assume this already struggling team was doomed. In a lot of ways, they were - they only won five of the 14 games. They weren't in nearly as much trouble as the public assumed, though - they were 10-3-1 ATS without Redd.
Denver Nuggets - At 11-6-1 ATS, the Nuggets have been the third best team in the league to bet on. The most obvious reason people would come up with to explain this is the trade that brought Chauncey Billups to town. The change shook things up and brought a positive energy into town, and has made the team better - they are 11-4 since Iverson left. That's part of the reason for the betting success, but there is just one problem - the Nuggets were 3-0 ATS before the trade, so they were already good to bettors. Perhaps we need to look back a couple of years to see the bigger reason. Over the last three years Denver is the most consistently profitable team there is - the only one to be profitable all three years. That says that the Nuggets have been a consistently decent team, but their location and their spot well under the NBA radar means that the public doesn't give them nearly enough credit for what they can do.
Charlotte Bobcats - This is the simplest team to explain on this list. Indeed, there is really just one reason to explain why Charlotte is 11-6 ATS - Larry Brown. Brown hasn't yet turned the Bobcats into a winner, and he probably won't without a change in personnel. What he has done, though, is got his team to play with intensity and determination that the public is not used to. That is especially evident when the team doesn't have the ball - the Bobcats have allowed the third fewest points per game. That explains why they cover a lot of games they don't win - they are usually underdogs, and they play well enough to keep it closer than most think. Brown is in an ideal situation to create betting success here - he's with a team no one knows much about, and which has the lowest TV viewership of any team in the league, and expectations are very low.