Betting On The NBA Summer League


The official NBA season may have ended a couple of weeks ago, but today on the blog Cassini offers us some pointers for betting on the NBA Summer League.

NBA Summer League

The 2012-13 NBA season may be over, but lower profile NBA action does continue through the Summer months in the form of the female version of the game, the WNBA or the rapidly growing NBA Summer Leagues.

While the women’s NBA is now in its 17th season, the men’s Summer League is a more recent innovation, with the Las Vegas Summer League starting back in 2004.

History Of The NBA Summer League

Expanding from an initial 6 teams to this year’s total of 22 (including a select team from the NBA’s development D-League), the Las Vegas Summer League is the elder statesman, joined this year by an inaugural Orlando Summer League featuring ten NBA teams. For the first time, all NBA teams will be taking part.

First to tip-off is the Orlando Summer League which will be in-play from Sunday July 7th to the final games on Friday July 12th, which is when the Las Vegas competition tips off continuing through to the final on Monday July 22nd. This is the first year that the Summer League has had an official winner. Previous versions have been more informally structured, with the focus very much on showcasing the up and coming talent from the teams rather than on winning.

With championships on the line, this Summer promises to be a little different.

Orlando Summer League

(July 7 – 12)

Ten teams will be competing in this tournament, most from the Eastern Conference, but three from the Western Conference will be there too. The line up in full is:

Eastern Conference Western Conference
Boston Celtics Houston Rockets
Brooklyn Nets Oklahoma City Thunder
Detroit Pistons Utah Jazz
Indiana Pacers  
Miami Heat  
Orlando Magic  
Philadelphia 76ers  

Ten teams will each play at least four ‘league’ matches over five days, before a final Championship Day on Friday 12th July.

Las Vegas Summer League

(July 12 – 22)

A record 22 teams will be taking part this year, including Miami Heat who are the only team competing in both Summer Leagues.

Eastern Conference Western Conference
Atlanta Hawks Dallas Mavericks
Charlotte Bobcats Denver Nuggets
Chicago Bulls Golden State Warriors
Cleveland Cavaliers Los Angeles Clippers
Miami Heat Los Angeles Lakers
Milwaukee Bucks Memphis Grizzlies
New York Knicks Minnesota Timberwolves
Toronto Raptors New Orleans Pelicans
Washington Wizards Phoenix Suns
  Portland Trailblazers
  Sacramento Kings
  San Antonio Spurs

NBA D-League

Each team will play at least five games, which gives plenty of opportunity to see which players are playing, and which players are playing well.

Quality Players

Although the quality is high, with low profile tournaments like these, it can be hard to assess the probabilities accurately.

Several of the recently completed 2013 NBA draft picks are likely to feature. A measure of the quality at this event is that no less than seven of the last eight NBA Rookie of the Year Award winners have played in this league:

2005-2006 Chris Paul New Orleans Hornets
2006-2007 Brandon Roy Portland Trailblazers
2007-2008 Kevin Durant Oklahoma City Thunder
2009-2010 Tyreke Evans Sacramento Kings
2010-2011 Blake Griffin Los Angeles Clippers
2011-2012 Kyrie Irving Cleveland Cavaliers
2012-2013 Damian Lillard Portland Trailblazers

Only the Chicago Bulls’ 2009-09 winner Derrick Rose is missing from the list, as they didn’t compete that year.

With new additions and players unfamiliar with each other, and perhaps with the coach’s playing style, teams can take a while to settle down.

NBA Summer League Betting Pointers

In past seasons, Betfair has run these games in-play, and although liquidity is way down on regular NBA season games, there are opportunities. As with pre-season games, you will often find the marquee teams over bet, i.e. too short, and worth laying.

These Miami Heat teams will bear no resemblance to the NBA champions, bar the names on the front of the shirts. While Head Coaches do look in, they leave the coaching to others, and usually seem to spend their time chatting amicably to the commentators, who are also often there to make a name for themselves!

In fact if I remember rightly from the last couple of seasons, for much of the games there is no commentary as such, rather the viewer gets to listen in on a conversation about the previous season or the upcoming season.

Last season’s unofficial champions were the Golden State Warriors, who won all five games, and while past form is irrelevant so far as line-ups go, it is useful to see which teams might take the competition a little more seriously than others.

Previous Results

In terms of winning percentage, Charlotte Bobcats and the Miami Heat top the list after just one and three seasons of playing respectively, while Golden State Warriors edge Denver Nuggets and Milwaukee Brewers of the teams playing at least eight editions. Along with the New Orleans Pelicans (debut for the new name), the Los Angeles teams look as if they aren’t too interested.

TeamW/LW/L PctSeasons
Charlotte Bobcats 4-1 80.0% 2012
Miami Heat 7-3 70.0% 2010-2012
Golden State Warriors 22-13 62.9%% 2005-2012
Denver Nuggets 24-15 61.5%% 2004-2012
Milwaukee Bucks 15-10 60.0%% 2007-2012
San Antonio Spurs 14-10 58.3%% 2007-2012
Portland Trailblazers 20-16 55.6%% 2005-2012
Toronto Raptors 11-9 55.0%% 2008-2012
Sacramento Kings 19-17 52.8%% 2005-2012
Dallas Mavericks 18-17 51.4%% 2005-2012
New York Knicks 20-19 51.3%% 2005-2012
Atlanta Hawks 5-5 50.0%% 2010-2012
Minnesota Timberwolves 15-15 50.0%% 2006-2012
Washington Wizards 20-21 48.8%% 2004-2012
Memphis Grizzlies 10-11 47.6%% 2007-2012
Phoenix Suns 18-21 46.2%% 2004-2012
Cleveland Cavaliers 18-23 43.9%% 2004-2012
Chicago Bulls 8-12 40.0%% 2005, 2009-2012
NBA D-League Select 6-9 40.0%% 2009-2012
Los Angeles Clippers 13-22 37.1%% 2005-2012
Los Angeles Lakers 8-18 30.7%% 2007-2012
New Orleans 8-28 22.2%% 2005-2012

Where To Watch

For a small fee, all these games should be available online. Certainly the Las Vegas games are available with details at

As mentioned earlier, liquidity is less than regular season NBA games, but in addition to seeing future household names in action, there are the familiar momentum changing moments in games that lead to value.

Betting Pre-Game

If you have to take a position pre-game, my experience is that the value is in the underdog. Also look for over-bet big names, either because they are popular (e.g. the Los Angeles Lakers) or because their ‘A’ team is good (e.g.) Miami Heat.

Betting In-Play

Some things to look for in-play:

High draft picks looking to make an impression.

Early leads which are often short-lived. Lay the leader on a time-out which is intended to break the momentum. Leading teams psychologically ease up at the time.

Form players getting into foul trouble.

Teams taking the games more seriously than others. It is likely that not all 30 NBA teams are fully enthusiastic about the Summer League, but once a tipping point was reached, they don’t want to be the only team seen to not be participating. I expect some teams to be showing up with weaker line-ups or playing the games as exhibitions rather than seriously trying to win the tournaments.



You can follow Cassini on Twitter @calciocassini

And visit Cassini's blog : GreenAllOver.blogspot

Musings on Backing, Laying, Trading, Punting, In-Running and more on the Betting Exchanges and related items of interest in the wide world of sports investing