NFL Vs. NBA Props: Getting Ready For The Next Season

NFL Vs. NBA Props: Getting Ready For The Next Season

Jason Scavone
November 30, 2023

a basketball and a football representing betting nfl vs. nba props


Week 13 is upon us. Which means, by our rough, back-of-the-envelope math, there are only five more weeks of regular-season football after Monday night. If you’re going to keep things rolling, you need to know the difference between betting NFL vs. NBA props.

No one wants to see an NFL season come to an end, but if you’ve been exclusively betting football, there’s a post-February world to consider. 

NFL prop bettors: it’s time to start planning your transition to betting NBA props.

We’ve got a couple of tips to get you started so you can seamlessly slide into the heart of the NBA post-Christmas schedule, just as the NFL is winding down.

Game Script vs. Minutes

How players get used in each sport is fundamentally different. And not just because Chris Paul would get flattened by your average defensive end. 

In the NFL, props depend heavily on game usage. It’s important to have – or be able to create – an idea of what the game script is going to look like. 

If the Chiefs play the Cardinals, there’s a good chance that Kansas City will have built a large, early lead and can start handing the ball off to minimize the chances of turnovers and keep the clock running. 

And because of that, you might not expect Skyy Moore to rack up catches and yards.

On the other hand, NBA player props depend heavily on how many minutes they can be expected to play per game. Not always, of course (there’s always someone out there chucking up bricks every night) but usually there’s a linear relationship between minutes played and the counting stats like points, rebounds and assists. 

Once you have your minutes down, a tools like the Props Simulator will show you distributions based on stats you project using minutes as your foundation.

Thin out the Crowd  

You get 11 players on offense in the NFL. Outside of the quarterback, scoring tends to be distributed. Just ask any one of your friends who needed a Keenan Allen touchdown to win their fantasy matchup Sunday night, and got Gerald Everett instead.

In the NBA, you have five starters and might only have two or three top-tier players generating the bulk of the offense. It’s a star-driven league. If Tyreek Hill misses a game for the Dolphins, you might adjust Jaylen Waddle up a little, but the offense should be relatively stable. 

If Joel Embiid is a late scratch, you need to scramble to adjust minutes and stats distribution for the rest of the 76ers. 

Who’s In, Who’s Hurt

Speaking of missing time, the way injuries are handled in each sport is wildly different. 

The NFL mandates injury reports are issued for the three days preceding a game. (We’ll just take Joe Burrow out of the equation for now.) In that regard, NFL prop bettors are living in the lap of luxury. 

In the NBA, there’s a morning injury report, but if players are considered a game-time decision you may not know until the last second how minutes will get divvied up on a team. 

You have to make more assumptions when you’re betting NBA player props, or at the very least, have contingency plans ready. Which can be time consuming on nights when several key players are fighting injuries.

Historical data

Two numbers have underpinned everything else in this conversation: 17 and 81. As in the number of games available to a player in each season.

Football is, by its nature, a small-sample-size league. Hill caught 119 passes on 170 targets in 2022. He was on the field for 859 snaps – about 80 percent of Miami’s offensive plays. 

Nikola Jokic played 2,323 of 3,888 available minutes for the Nuggets last year, about 60 percent. He attempted 186 shots by the 17th game of the season. Volume and playing time are worlds apart. 

The good thing is that you have a better idea of the range of possible outcomes for an NBA player. There’s less variance there. 

When you have to make some assumptions, you can do it armed with sharper information to inform those assumptions. 

We can all agree Peyton Manning was pretty good at football, right? In 2004, he threw for 4,557 yards. And in 2006, it was 4,397. In 2005? 3,747. 

Obviously, this is a simplification. Lots of things can happen inside an offense that will affect stats, but you’re a lot less likely to find an NBA player in their prime who in the same amount of playing time will see their numbers in a major stat category fall off by around 25 percent. 

But if you incorporate these concepts into your betting, you can chip away at props through the end of June. That leaves you just enough time to spare to take a quick summer vacation before it’s time to get back to work on the 2024 NFL season.

If you want to learn a little bit more about how to use Unabated’s prop tools, sign up for a one-on-one demonstration today.

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