Transitioning from College to Pro Hoops

With Two-Time AFC Coach of the Year RON MEYER


With the Big Dance behind us, it's time to look forward toward the pending stretch run and playoffs in the NBA.

We may be set for a historic postseason given all the turmoil in the West (the Lakers recent slump has opened the door for EVERYONE else), and the drama in the East of LeBron James trying tow in a championship for Cleveland before he potentially moves on to richer pastures).

The stretch run over these last two weeks could get very interesting too. Teams are jockeying for seeding position...with home court at stake, and a chance to impact what side of the brackets they'll fall on. It's a tricky time for coaches and handicappers.

As a former coach, I can tell you that I think the media and fans make too much of jockeying for position. Coaches want to MAKE the playoffs first. They want to be HEALTHY for the playoffs second (there's no point in having a great draw if your players are injured or exhausted). They want HOME COURT obviously, but they're not going to sell everything out to get it. You can win championships from outside the top seeds if you have the horses. The top priority is having your horses!

Losing on purpose to create an ideal first round matchup? Most coaches are afraid of getting too cute, and are aware of the Law of Unintended Consequences. I think what happens is that coaches rest key players to be ready for the postseason, and fans or the media take that as losing on purpose to jockey for position. It's against a coach's nature to lose on purpose. He'll give his stars more breaks than normal late in the season, but still try to win with his backups if he can.

I've been on a great run in pro basketball this year. That was overshadowed by my hot streak through the Big Dance. Now that we're focused on the NBA, I want to quickly review the key elements of my handicapping process.

  • DEFENSE comes first. Coaches who emphasize defense have the most success in the postseason. That's always been the case in this sport, no matter how much hype the superstars get. Everyone remembers Michael Jordan's scoring...they forget what a defensive leader he was.
  • REBOUNDING is huge. You saw that again in the Dance, with two teams that hustled on the boards making it all the way to the finals. The Spurs recent dynasty is largely a "defense and rebounding"dynasty. Coaches who emphasize these elements will get the money for you more often than not in the postseason.
  • TEAMWORK is something that everyone talks about, but few handicappers exploit to the fullest. Coaches who sit back and hope their superstar wins for them tend to go home early. Coaches who create a team environment where role players are celebrated and respected go deep. Look to back players who respect their teammates and their coach. Look to go against teams who are clearly worrying about their own shots rather than the result. This is often the key factor in first round results. It's possible to make the playoffs with selfish teams. It's hard to win once you get there.

As you start to watch more NBA games now that college is over, please focus on these three main elements. Let the TV announcers rave about dunks and three-pointers. Turn down your volume if you have to! Focus on defensive rotations, box out positions, and overall team play. THINK LIKE A COACH, not a fan. Fans can't pick winners. I just showed you that a former coach can WIN BIG as a handicapper. Oddsmakers don't think like coaches. THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT I KNOW!

My basketball service is very affordably priced. Call 1-877-540-8787 for details (be sure to ask about baseball when you call---I'll be talking about the fundamentals of handicapping baseball very soon in these web articles!). Game day releases and packages can also be purchased here at the website with your credit card.

You often hear that college basketball is a coach's game...but pro basketball is a player's game. BULL! The same coaches, emphasizing the same keys, win year after year. That's what I've been doing myself in the handicapping field. IT'S TIME FOR YOU TO PUT A COACH IN YOUR CORNER!


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