NBA Injury Reports: How to Use Them to Inform Your Betting Strategy


Keeping tabs on NBA injury reports is crucial for any serious sports bettor. This article explores the importance of monitoring injury reports, how to interpret them, and how to adjust your betting strategy accordingly.


I. Introduction

● The NBA is unlike any other league in the world when it comes to injuries. Players get banged up often and NBA training staffs are becoming more and more careful with their players because of that. That’s why you’re hearing about “load management” constantly. Players rarely play through minor injuries these days, and a lot of them won’t even think about playing on back-to-back days. That has made the NBA injury report more important than ever.

● A lot of teams use the injury report differently, with some treating it seriously and others, like the Miami Heat, seemingly shoving it in the face of opponents and the league. The Heat were fined this season for putting nearly their entire roster on the injury report. However, for the most part, checking the injury report is a must for all NBA bettors. You never know when a key player might be active or ruled out, so you need to be checking these things before betting your hard-earned money on it. Luckily for you, we have a remarkable NBA Injury Report page right here at VSiN.

II. Understanding NBA Injury Reports

● The injury report will often include a player’s playing status, along with the part of the body that is injured. Players will be listed in one of the following ways:

  • Available
  • Probable
  • Questionable
  • Doubtful
  • Out

● The official NBA injury reports that are filed to the NBA are updated a few times per day. However, there are some key times you should know. For example, teams must submit an injury report by 5:00 p.m. local time the day before a game, and that injury report must specify injuries, illnesses or potential rest spots for healthy players. If a player is not on that report, it means they are available — barring something fluky happening, like Kevin Durant spraining an ankle in warmups. The exception to that 5:00 p.m. report is if a team has a back-to-back the next day. Then, the team can wait to update the league until 1:00 p.m. local time on game day.

● We have our very own VSiN Injury Report, and it will allow you to sort by team and get a good idea of who is playing in each game. You could also go right to the source and get the official reports from the NBA’s website. However, you’ll notice that looking at ours will give you some information that will directly impact how you bet games — especially with some of the changes we’re implementing to it soon.

III. How to Interpret NBA Injury Reports

● Understanding the severity of an injury really comes down to doing some research. If a player is listed as probable, you’re probably safe to assume they’re going to play. On the flip side of that, a doubtful player is likely not going to play. Where it gets murky is with the questionable tag. If you want to know if a player that is questionable has a better chance of playing, it might make sense to follow some NBA beat writers on Twitter. Or go back and see if players generally play through their injuries. However, we should note that questionable is a good sign if a player was previously listed as out. We have seen that change in distinction often in recent seasons, and it generally means a player is returning from a long-term injury and playing.

● The official NBA injury report generally won’t help you determine how long a player is out. However, it does list players like Memphis Grizzlies forward Brandon Clarke, who tore his Achilles. If you are curious as to how long guys are out, you can always look for official press releases from teams or just look for tweets from some of the NBA’s best news breakers.

● If you’re trying to identify how important a player is to their team, it makes sense to quickly look at their stats. You can use counting stats like points per game, rebounds per game and assists per game for this, but it also makes sense to investigate some advanced statistics. Metrics like Basketball-Reference’s Box Plus Minus and VORP can be helpful, and the same goes for Dunks and Threes’ Estimated Plus Minus and ESPN’s RAPTOR. Those will give you a good idea of which players have more value to their team than their normal statistics suggest.

IV. Adjusting Your Betting Strategy

● If a player is very valuable to their team, you’ll naturally have less trust in a squad to cover when that player is out. However, just remember that sportsbooks are baking absences into the price. So, it’s not as simple as betting against the Los Angeles Lakers if LeBron James is out. The new spread on that game already accounts for that. So, just go about handicapping the way you normally would. And perhaps investigate a team’s history of performing without a certain player.

● Injury-prone players can be tough to monitor when they’re listed on the injury report. Joel Embiid, who has battled injuries his entire career, seems to always be listed as questionable. With players like that, you need to be very careful betting on their games if they’re questionable. In fact, you’re probably better off waiting until the very last minute to bet on games that include injury-prone players — even at the expense of getting good lines.

● You can utilize injury reports to make some money betting on sports. In terms of individual games, a funky line might suggest a player is on the wrong side of questionable. For example, there was a regular season game between the New Orleans Pelicans and Denver Nuggets in which the Nuggets opened as 9-point favorites and Nikola Jokic was questionable. By the middle of the afternoon, that line was down at 5.5. That suggests Jokic was going to be missing the game, even though it wasn’t official yet. So, it would have been a good idea to hop on the Pelicans at that point.

You can also use the injury report to bet on player props. If a player is out, that presents more opportunities for a teammate. That just means that you need to figure out which teammate it will be. Also, if a great defender is out for their team, it could be a good opportunity to bet a player prop on the opponent he would have been guarding.

V. Common Mistakes to Avoid

● Don’t place bets without looking at the injury report. The NBA is the craziest league in the world when it comes to this stuff, so you never know when you might be betting on a team that is missing a key piece.

● You don’t want to get too caught up in the injury report. As we said earlier, some teams aren’t using this report in good faith. They throw players on there just to mess with their opponents. With that said, make sure you also have reliable sources of information out there that are giving you injury news on players. Beat writers tend to have great pulses on the teams they cover.

● Injuries aren’t the only thing to consider when looking at a game. It’s important to know who is playing, but that’s just the start of your handicapping process. From there, there’s all sorts of digging you need to do. But don’t be afraid to let some of our VSiN experts help you.

VI. Conclusion

● Just make sure injuries are always in the back of your mind in the NBA. In this league more than any other, the last-minute decisions of trainings staffs and players can come back to cost you some money. So, you need to be on top of it to make sure you still beat up on your book.

● Our VSiN Injury Report page could be the perfect thing for you. We’re constantly updating it when new information comes in, and then you’re one click away from other betting insights.