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How to Use Offensive and Defensive Efficiency to Bet on Basketball


As sports leagues like the NBA and college basketball have evolved the way they track sports through data analytics so has the sports wagering world as well. This type of discussion makes sports traditionalist cringe because they feel the "stats geeks" are taking over.

If you listen closely to most sports television and radio shows you're sure to hear analytics come up and the term "efficiency" being heavily talked about. If you're avoiding the understanding of defensive and offensive efficiency when betting on basketball you're making a huge mistake.

Data analytics has already arrived and the sports world as well as the wagering world is now analytics-driven. Within that efficiency is the key factor that brings analytics together for wagering on basketball.

At this point you're likely asking yourself, "what does offensive or defensive efficiency even mean?" The best way to explain it is analyzing how a teams pace of play relates to scoring. Mastering the ability to analyze the offensive or defensive efficiency of a team will allow you to become more of a knowledgeable basketball fan.

When you watch a game on TV, in the college world you're going to have Jay Bilas tell you who is great offensively or Jeff Van Gundy tell you who's a great defensive team in the NBA. Although they are considered experts of their respective leagues, their opinion is still just that, an opinion.

The best way to calculate defensive and offensive efficiency is:

  • Defense - Total Points Allowed / # of possessions
  • Offense - Total Points / # of possessions

Other ways in which you will see the formula expressed is points per 100 possessions. Depended upon your preference in how you like to see your numbers will determine which formula you use.

Going the points per possession route you will see numbers in this format 1.045 or 0.963. But if you prefer to see 104.5 or 96.3 then you will want to opt for the formula stated above. The most important thing here is to learn what efficiency is, how to get the numbers that matter and what they tell you about a team offensively and defensively.

Of course many bettors around the world don't wager on games as their primary source of income. It takes time to analyze good and bad bets, acquire efficiency numbers and get the information you need.

Generally there aren't any shortcuts when betting on sports unless you're paying professionals for their picks. But there is help out there for you to acquire the efficiency numbers you're looking for.

For the NBA, "Hollinger Team Stats" presented by ESPN shows defensive and offensive efficiency ratings on their charts. It allows you to see a column for possessions and to the far right you can get the efficiency rating.

For College Basketball, you can go to by Ken Pomperoy, where he discusses efficiency. Similar to what you can get on ESPN's site Ken does a good job for the college basketball world as well.

While it's good to know all there is to know about efficiency and how use it to win more of your NBA and college basketball bets. It's not the sole factor you should rely on when betting on basketball.

It's important to also focus on factors like coaching styles, schedule situations, back-to-back road games, injuries, etc. Combining all of these factors are important when you're betting on both NBA and college basketball.

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