The Odds and Ends of the NBA

A lot is made of the “line” for an NBA game in Daily Fantasy Sports. Players use the Over/Under line to determine if a team is worth playing, and then they couple that information with the line of the game to determine whether it is worth taking a superstar playing in a blowout situation. I decided to examine the data to see whether it actually makes a difference if you take a high-priced player in a blowout situation, and whether or not the line of the game matters.

I started by filtering all the 50 FP games that have occurred this season and identifying them by which team has the most 50 FP games. The results look like this:

This shows that the teams that give the most value when playing against are led by the ever porous Philadelphia 76ers. It’s obvious to anybody who watches the games that Philly doesn’t have defense in their game plan. Nor should they, they have two lottery picks in next years’ draft and have sat MCW for the majority of the last two weeks.

The rest of the league is somewhat bunched up together with the exception of a few outliers that I will call “keep aways”:

  • Boston, Brooklyn. Two teams that have not allowed any 50 point games from their opponents.
  • Memphis. Memphis has only allowed one fifty point game from an opponent and that was to Curry last week.
  • Phoenix, Miami and the Spurs have each allowed 2 50 point games, with both of Phoenix’s games coming to DeMarcus Cousins, the Spurs allowing Kevin Love and Derrick Favors to go off and the heat allowing MCW (first game gem) and Alec Burks (wtf off the bench!) to get their piece of the pie.

With the exception of those 6 teams and Philly, everybody else is somewhat equally as likely to score 50 FPs against.

How about which teams have a player that scores the most 50 point games?

True to form, OKC and Minnesota and Houston lead the way with 14, 12 and 9 games respectively. These three teams have two players capable of going for 50 on a regular basis. While some teams have had fewer 50 point games than expected (Brooklyn, Dallas, Toronto)

This also shows the effect of being ‘Popped’ as san antonio has only one 50 point fantasy game, this is likely a result of Pop’s penchant to benching his players when games appear to be within winning distance.

Looking at odds and game lines

Next I took that data and combined it with the odds/lines before the game was started to try to see if any information can be gleaned after the fact. Here are the results. The table shows the number of games that match both categories

LINE TOTAL O/U
less than 190 190 to 200 200 to 210 greater than 210
Favored by 10 or more 14 1 7 2 4
Favored by 9.5 to 5.5 points 36 2 11 21 2
Favored by 5 to 0.5 points 39 2 15 15 7
underdog by 0.5 to 5 points 16 1 5 9 1
underdog by 5 to 9.5 points 16 3 3 8 2
underdog by 10 or more points 7 0 5 2 0

It appears that when a team is favored by anywhere between 5.5 and 9.5 points and the o/u is between 200 and 210, that is the sweet spot. The superstar on that team has a better chance than any other situation to go for 50 points.

There have also been no situations where a player scored 50 fantasy points where the line was a pickem/push.

Note however, This does not take into account the games which match this criteria but do not include a player that goes for 50. So I can’t judge how successful it would be to select the 50 point player every night based on this alone.

About the Author

  • Hesh Hambazaza (hambazaza)

  • At the intersection of sports and mathematics you’ll find Hesh Hambazaza as a staunch believer that numbers really can explain everything. Along with working as a RotoGrinders editor, Hambazaza contributes to RotoGrinders in Soccer coverage as well as a contributor to RotoAcademy highlighting Vegas as a useful tool. When he’s not devoting countless hours to DFS a week, Hambazaza can be found working as a father, husband and electrical engineer on various NASA projects.

Comments

  • duder500

    RG Mod

    This is incredible work. Thank you very much. I will bookmark this and come back to it frequently.

  • North

    Outstanding analysis!

    I’m pretty much a math idiot (not to mention having zero ability to scrape data, use spreadsheets, etc.). Yet these kind of angles are always rolling around in my head somewhere.

    Thanks for this great work!

  • blairmorgan07

    GREAT WORK!

  • slcseas

    Can I ask where you mined the data for this? Great job btw.

  • KindGuy

    Holy shit man this is incredible. I’ve always tried to analyze the relationship between o/u and fantasy performance but this did it all for me. Good stuff man! If you don’t mind me asking, where did get the numbers from? Here?

  • jimfred82

    • Blogger of the Month

    this is really good, hambazaza! do you plan on keeping it going and revisiting it in a few months to see if any new trends develop?

  • Cameron

    RG Co-Founder

    • 2014 FanDuel NFL Survivor Champion

    • 2016 RG Season Long Champion: NFL

    The plus voting system is very upset it’s not working now, as it wants to be on this blog

  • hambazaza

    RG Blog Program Manager, 2014 RG Party Beer Pong Champion

    • Blogger of the Month

    • Beer Pong Champion

    Ha thanks guys.

    As to where the data comes from, I’ve been keeping track of the over/unders since the season started since that’s where my main gambling occurs. I pull the odds from covers.com and then I wrote another script that pulled any game that had a basketball-reference.com game score of 15 and above. Filtered those with the 50+ fantasy point performances then cross referenced the whole thing. Wrote that script monday night and thought it was neat.

    And yes, I’ll run that script every other week or so and it’ll pull the data. And I’ll post an update every month or so.

  • db730

    RotoGrinders Media Director

    • 437

      RG Overall Ranking

    • Ranked #70

      RG Tiered Ranking

    • 2016 DraftKings FFWC Finalist

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    Great column. Can’t wait to read others

  • firefighter35

    +1 Solid hambazaza. I am just getting into FD NBA and I had been wondering how these numbers broke down! Thanks for the hard work!

  • Fortyoz40

    Great read. Will use this frequently.

    Thanks for your time and effort you put into this.

  • futureoffantasy

    Fantastic post! One thing I would be curious is the percentages. For example the largest majority of NBA games have a total between 190-210 so its easy to expect the majority of games to come from this segment.

    Example continued: Lets say there have been 100 games with a total < 190. Your chart shows nine 50+ games in this total range (9% chance in these games). Then lets pretend there have been 200 games with a total greater than 210. Your chart shows 18 games of 50+ fantasy points in this total range (also 9% chance). I just threw out random numbers there that would fit well but I hope you get the idea. I would love to see the percentages included.

  • hambazaza

    RG Blog Program Manager, 2014 RG Party Beer Pong Champion

    • Blogger of the Month

    • Beer Pong Champion

    yeah, thats the next step I assume is to compare these numbers to total games. if 10% of games have the odds of less than 190, and 40% of those have players that reach 50 FPs (I’m making this up, I haven’t done that research yet) these superstar players are very important to have in your lineup in some way.

    The relative chance of these happening is what makes this data useful. It’s obvious tho that they follow a normal distribution

    My main goal out of this was rate of occurrence rather than a more concrete percentage of likelihood of occurrence.

  • agentorange4

    Great data, keep this up!

  • youngblood

    Good stuff man, look forward to future posts. Thanks.

  • raygo

    You should probably look at it as a percentage of the number of games that fall within each range. So there were 21 50 point games in the favored by 5.5 to 9.5/200 to 210 ou range, but how many total games fall in that range? Thanks!

  • jukebox9988

    Thank you. very sightful. Numbers tell the story.

  • jamin35008

    Awesome work ham! The comments from everyone speak for themselves! Keep It up!

  • jamin35008

    Sorry double post…..

  • rebkell

    Interesting stats. I don’t understand some of the lines and over/under listings. For instance I see something like on the over under of 207u16 or another game might have something like 192.5o10 and on some of the spreads stuff like -4.5 -05

    What do those mean?

  • misfit

    I would say that number of replies you have gotten speak volumes about how much we all like & appreciate this article & others like it.
    Excellent work & thanks very much for sharing it with us!
    Hope to see updates throughout Season!
    I do not see the +1 but +1+1!

  • barmalei

    Thank you for sharing, dude, your hard work is much appreciated. We need to see more articles of this type on this site.

  • bcarnott

    Great work. Small sample size, but you get your point across. I’m wondering, though, how blowouts factor into the O/U being directly related to the possibility of 50+ points/game.

  • aurum48

    I don’t understand the fine points when it comes to the NBA (and probably never will), but you worked hard here. Thanks very much for the info.

  • SeeRed4

    Great job man…about to read part 2

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