Points per possession is an important NBA statistic that can be used in order to help grade the efficiency of a team at both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. The numbers are usually published after the first 10 games of the season. They come in once a legitimate sample size is available. We can use those numbers for our own purposes as an important betting asset.
Here is a look at how we can use points per possession as a tool to bet on NBA games.
Factoring In Points Per Possession
You can look up the system for calculating points per possession on your own line but once the numbers are available it really doesn’t make sense to do the extra work when a number of websites will do it for you. Once you have found the points per possession or PPP for teams online, you will want to add each team’s offensive PPP to the opponents’ defensive PPP and then divide that number by two.
Let's pretend that the Cleveland Cavaliers are playing the Golden State Warriors in an NBA Finals rematch. The Warriors’ offensive PPP is 1.13 while Cleveland’s is 1.06. Meanwhile, Golden State’s defensive PPP is .99 while the Cavaliers have a 1.04 mark. The calculations will look like this:
For Cleveland, 1.06 + 0.99 – 2.05, which is divided by 2 = 1.025
For Golden State, 1.13 + 1.04 = 2.17, which is divided by 2 = 1.085
Once we have arrived at these numbers, we can take the next step and add both team’s average number of offensive and defensive possessions then divide them by four, which is how many possessions each team is expected to have during the game. Next, we multiply the number of expected possessions by each team’s PPP numbers. That will look something like this:
For Cleveland, 1.025 x 98.175 = 100.6
For Golden State, 1.085 x 98.175 = 106.5
According to this equation, the Warriors should score about 5 more points than Cleveland in a head-to-head matchup. However, we aren’t done just yet. The final step involves subtracting two points from the road team and adding two points to the home team in order to account for the home court advantage in the game. That would leave us with Golden State at 108.5 and Cleveland at 98.6 for our projected final score according to the PPP calculations.
Points Per Possession & The Betting Line
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Warriors listed as the favorites for this game. However, the key is determining whether they will cover the spread based on our projected score for the game. The PPP calculations can also be applied to betting the totals for the game. This will tell you if the projected combined score of the two teams is significantly more or less than what the sportsbooks have for the game.
It’s important to remember that there isn’t a system that guarantees winners and that includes the points per possession model. However, this system can be used to breakdown matchups and get a better understanding of how two teams matchup. If you can get a read on the contest, you can gain an edge when betting on the NBA.