As one of the most popular sports in the world, the National Basketball Association (NBA) holds a massive reputation. Under the present leadership of Adam Silver, the league has gone through some pretty spectacular highs and lows in the last few years. From growth in China to politically involved fall-outs, the league has certainly managed to provide as much entertainment on the court as it has off. However, for many fans today, one of the best parts about NBA is being able to place some bets on it.

Make no mistake when we say that NBA betting is one of the most popular ways to get involved with the sport itself. Watching basketball is fun and engaging at any time, but when it could help make you a few bucks along the way it naturally becomes even more enticing to the average player.

In a bid to help you enjoy the sport and really feel satisfied, we’ve put together a really effective NBA betting guide below. This should help you to understand the NBA and how to best go about betting on the sport as a whole long-term.

NBA History

The NBA was first formed in 1949, when there was a merger of the previous Basketball Association for America and the National Basketball League. Their combined partnership led to the development of a 17-team league, but the early years of the NBA were challenging to say the least. The league struggled, and by 1954 those 17 sides had fallen drastically. Indeed, only 8 teams were left in the early years of the NBA. Today, though, the league has very much beat its growing pains and now has a membership of 30 clubs.

It’s easily the biggest basketball league in the world, with many of the top European leagues failing to compete with it on a profile and performance standard. Over the years, the NBA has built a name for itself as being a highly competitive league. 18 winners in total have existed, with the Boston Celtics the most prolific winners with 17 NBA Championships. However, since their heyday in the late 1950s and 1960s, when they won eight in a row, the club has fallen away drastically.

Today, it’s teams like the LA Lakers, the Golden State Warriors, and the rapidly improving Toronto Raptors that make up some of the most fearsome NBA sides. Other big names include the Chicago Bulls, who were powered to six titles during the Michael Jordan era. They even hold the record for the best ever NBA season, with a 72-10 record in 1995-96. The NBA has grown massively over the years, having gone from being a league with potential to becoming a nationwide sport that easily rivals the NFL for supremacy in the US sporting market.

Having gone through massive changes to its format and its layout since it first formed nearly 70 years ago, the NBA has developed a brand that’s consumed worldwide.

NBA Betting History

Just as the NBA has gone through massive changes since its early days, so too has NBA betting. One thing to note about the NBA, though, is that unlike other sporting events like the NFL it was not present during the worst of American sports betting crackdowns. In the past, this was seen as a major part of the problem for US sports really getting off the ground – if you could go and bet on the dogs/horses, why not just do that?

Like all other US-based sports leagues, the NBA has had to do a lot of work to make sports betting a reality. However, when the sport began to have a lot of problems with gambling in the early 1990s and 2000s, there began to be a wholesale change in the leagues approach to gambling as a whole. Michael Jordan was one of the most prominent names in the NBA to have a noted gambling problem. Calling it a “competition problem”, Jordan and many others placed bets on the sport – even when you weren’t supposed to. From the days where you had to go to Nevada to place a bet on an NBA game to the growing number of states that now provide sports betting facilities, we’re in a whole new world to the one that Jordan and co. were forced to bet in.

Today, sports betting is legal in a whole number of states, with many providing access to online NBA betting as well. Online betting is allowed in every state that allows sports betting apart from Arkansas, New Mexico, New York, and North Carolina. In total, 18 states will allow sports betting, including NBA betting, as of 2020.

NBA today, then, is backed up by some pretty powerful allies in the betting world. In 2018, the NBA signed up an exciting deal with MGM, making them the gaming partner of the entire league. This was the first time in US sporting history that a league has had a sportsbook provider come into partnership with it for this particular purpose.

From once being entirely taboo to having its own sportsbook operation – it’s safe to say that the NBA has, like most of American society, changed its views on NBA betting in the most drastic circumstances. That’s why today so many people take part in NBA betting – it’s no longer the big risk that it was once seen as.

Betting possibilities for NBA bettors

Like most other sports that you can bet on, NBA betting is quite complex – at least at first. It takes a bit of time to get used to the various ways that you can place a bet on in this league. Most of the time, you’ll need to do some serious digging if you wish to understand the various options available to you. Most of the time, though, NBA gambling can be done by looking at the following forms of NBA betting.


The most common NBA bets are moneyline bets. These are simple to place, and you basically just choose a team to win. However, it all comes down to the favourite and the underdog. Typically, backing a favourite often nets you a measly return, while betting on an underdog can produce some pretty outrageous returns on your bet. They are best for betting on an underdog or in tight matches.

Point Spread

Another common choice for most bettors would be points spread betting in the NBA. This is very common, and with this you are using a form of handicap betting to try and bet on a team either winning or losing by a certain amount of points.

So, you would be betting on a game where the favourite has to win by X points for it to win, or the underdog has to only lose by Y points for your bet to come through.


Over and Under betting is very common today and is all about getting the correct total of points for both teams. So, you look to choose a score and then determine if the score will be over or under that score.

This works really well if you are looking for a game that is going to be quite high scoring but also likely to be quite tight. It’s a useful choice for helping you to place mor unique bets, and it means that you could likely win big. It’s all about making sure you fall over or under the figure; anything exact to your figure is going to likely be refunded as a push bet.

Quarter and Half Betting

Though not for everyone, quarter and half betting has become very popular today for quite a few reasons. If you have lots of patience, then this can be lots of fun. Basically, you are betting on a team to do well in one quarter and not so well in the second quarter. This allows you to basically turn games into four mini matches, or two half matches. Then, you just need to choose who you think will be wining at each interval – get it right, and you can flip some pretty spectacular profits.


Although prop betting is not for everyone, it’s become a good choice for quite a lot of people. You can bet on anything outside the normal markets you might look for. So it could be for a certain player to score a specific points tally, to choose the team to break the deadlock, or even things like who will win Rookie of the Year award. A prop is pretty much as imaginative as you will allow it to be.


The last option that we would recommend you think about for the most part would be to look at parlay betting. Parlays are good as this means that you take two or more point spread, total, or moneyline bets. They are then put into the same bet, and you need all of the combined bets to come off. The risk is that it’s harder to call all three bets, but the reward is that your combined odds for all three offer massive chances for crazy rewards.

It’s a good choice if you are looking to really ramp up the odds and give yourself more opportunity to win and win big.


The last kind of bet that we would recommend you look into for the NBA betting system would be futures. Basically, you place a bet on a future event; a team to win, to reach the play-offs, to miss out on the play-offs etc.

You could even bet on a player to win MVP, contribute X points to their team, or just about anything else that you might feel works.

Use the above tips when NBA betting, and you should be more likely to make more slam dunk bets as opposed to foul throws.