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Are Any Advanced Basketball Stats Useful for Betting?


The NBA is a statistician’s dream.

There are so many metrics available that you can use to help with game predictions and online sports betting. 

If you really wanted to, you could analyze each player on a team in minute detail before placing any bet online BetUS wagers or bets on any other sportsbooks.

Looking at these metrics can help greatly. You can use them to look at which moneyline bets and over/under bets are worthwhile and more likely to happen. They can also be important for future betting, such as placing wagers on the NBA Playoffs and Finals.

For sports betting, however, some metrics are better than others and can help improve your betting strategies. Let’s look at two in particulareFG% and VORP. Below, we’ll explain what these metrics are, real examples, and how they can be used.

eFG%Effective Field Goal Percentage

Effective field goal percentage is one of the most important metrics when analyzing NBA games, and it is considered to be one of the main high-level, key indicators, together with FGA (field-goal attempts), FTA (free-throw attempts) and FT% (free-throw percentage).

Simply put, if an NBA team is higher than their opponent in all of these categories, they win. eFG% specifically looks at how effective a team or player is shooting from the field, and it considers the increased value of the 3-point shot. The basic formula is as follows:

  • (2pt FGM + (3pt FGM x 1.5)) / FGA
    • FGM = field goals made
    • FGA = field goals attempted

Let’s look at an example to explain further.

Luka Doncic plays against the Warriors and shoots 11-for-19 from the field. This included 4-of-5 from three-point land. Therefore, the formula would be:

  • (7 + (4 x 1.5)) / 19 = 68.4% 

His ACTUAL FG% was 57.9%, which was already incredible, but his eFG% was 68.4%, which is legendary for a guard.

The key to the metric is that 3-point shots are weighted as 1.5x more than 2-point shots (because, obviously, they are worth more actual points). This is where eFG% shines because it accounts for the actual points generated, too. If we show a side-by-side comparison, it makes more sense.

  • Luka Doncic11/19 FG including 4/5 3pt = 68.4% eFG%
  • DeMar DeRozan11/19 FG including 1/3 3pt = 60.5% eFG%

Here, the players had exactly the same FG%, shooting 11/19, but Luka was more effective and generated 26pts from his 19 FG, whereas DeMar generated 23. eFG% gives more insight into the shooting performance of each player and is more useful than standalone FG%. 

VORPValue Over Replacement Player

All you advanced-stat nerds will be well-versed with VORP, but most NBA fans will have never heard of it, or understand its significance.

VORP is a season metric that aims to show the value a player has over his replacement, such as a bench or role player.

There are a few things to understand before VORP makes sense:

  1. Number of seasons and games played impact VORP
  2. The player’s position also has an impact on VORP
  3. VORP is a season stat, not an individual game stat
  4. It is also an accumulative stat
  5. In the NBA, teams average around 100 possessions per game

VORP has been used since 1973 in the NBA and it essentially calculates box-score estimates for points per 100 team possessions a player scores over their replacement playerhe replacement player being the person who directly subs in for that player at the same position.

Currently, the top 10 VORP all-time leaders include

  1. LeBron James151.92
  2. Michael Jordan116.05
  3. John Stockton106.53
  4. Karl Malone98.96
  5. Chris Paul97.31
  6. Kevin Garnett96.86
  7. Tim Duncan91.09
  8. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar85.72
  9. Dirk Nowitzki84.82
  10. Kevin Durant84.57

There are a few takeaways from this. Firstly, longevity is a key factor in VORP. All 10 of these have enjoyed lengthy NBA careers and stayed healthy throughout. We can also see that Michael Jordan is a freaking legend as he ranks second on this list despite playing only 15 seasons compared to the 18+ the others played.

It’s also captivating that Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets is already 25th all-time on this list, despite playing only eight seasons so far. VORP certainly has usefulness in showing how impactful a player is to their team, but it has limitations due to being a season stat and a cumulative stateit doesn’t have as much use on a game-by-game basis for predictions and wagers.

Use These Metrics to Improve Your Predictions and Game Understanding 

More weight can be placed on eFG% and feel this has more potential to help with sports betting, especially if you are picking players for scoring totals or over/unders for shooting.

VORP has its uses, though, especially for looking at player impact and moneyline bets if certain players with a higher VORP are injured, for example.

About The Lead Staff

Articles by The Lead Staff.

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