Using the Four Factors to Win More NBA Bets

Use the Four Factors model to win more NBA bets.

Key Points

– The Four Factors model reveals how teams win NBA games.

– Using the Four Factors can help NBA bettors win more bets.

Using the Four Factors to Win More NBA Bets

Sports bettors continually search for tips to help them win more of their wagers. NBA bettors are no exception when a new season rolls around they prepare for success. 

One way that many bettors have found to win more NBA bets is by using the Four Factors model made famous by Dean Oliver. Oliver wrote a book called Basketball on Paper in 2004. In his book, he identified four primary factors that lead to success in basketball.

The book wasn’t necessarily for sports bettors, but bettors have found it to be useful. In his work, Oliver identified four areas of the game that lead to wins. The idea, of course, in basketball is to score more than your opponent. You can only score when you possess the basketball. Therefore, possession is very important.

Each of the four factors presented in Oliver’s model are related to the termination of an offensive possession. Specifically, those possessions that do not end in a basket.

The Four Factors 

In the book, Oliver identifies his four factors. These are things that basketball teams must do in order to win games. In the very simplest terms, the four factors are:

  1. Score efficiently
  2. Protect the ball on offense
  3. Grab as many rebounds as possible
  4. Go to the free throw line as often as possible

To win basketball games, teams should score on most of their possessions. They should not turn the ball over frequently. Winning teams should get offensive rebounds and they should shoot more free throws than their opponent.  

That sums up the Four Factors. It’s an easy recipe for success on the basketball court. How can basketball bettors use these factors and win more NBA bets?


Win More NBA Bets – Effective FG Percentage 

In a perfect world, a team would score every time it has possession of the basketball. Since the world is not perfect, this doesn’t happen but some teams are more effective than others at turning a possession into points.

For Oliver, he wanted a way to measure scoring in the NBA. Using just points isn’t the best way to learn how efficient a team is with its possessions. A team that plays at a breakneck pace may score a lot of points, but it might not be all that efficient.

That’s why Oliver came up with Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%). What eFG% will give you is a relative measurement for points scored per field goal attempt. It’s adjusted to account for three-point field goals. The calculation is as follows:

 eFG% = FGM+ 0.5(3PM)/FGA

In the equation, Effective Field Goal Percentage is equal to the number of field goals made (FGM) plus 0.5 times the number of three-point field goals made all divided by the number of field goals attempted.

In the 2021-22 NBA season, the top five teams in eFG% in order were Denver, Golden State, Utah, Phoenix, and Charlotte. All five of those teams made the postseason. Phoenix had the best regular season record in the league and the Warriors, of course, won the NBA title. 


Offenses do not score on every shot they take, but they can extend a possession by grabbing an offensive rebound. Teams that get more offensive rebounds tend to win more games because they have more chances to score.

Bettors can use something called Offensive Rebounding Percentage to help them determine which team might be more successful. OREB% is the best measure of a team’s ability to secure offensive rebounds. It is calculated by taking the number of offensive rebounds and dividing it by the total number of rebounds available after a missed field goal attempt.

It’s important to note that not all field goal misses are available for a rebound. For example, time can expire at the end of a quarter as a shot goes astray. In that case, no rebound is recorded.

Of the top five teams in OREB% in the 2021-22 NBA season, only Indiana failed to qualify for the postseason. Memphis led the NBA in OREB% (29.4%) and was the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. If you want to win more NBA bets, look for teams that have success on the offensive glass.

Free Throw Rate 

Today’s style of play in the NBA is more of a drive and kick philosophy. Teams that penetrate defenses and attack the basket are teams that usually shoot more free throws. Teams that shoot more free throws than their opponents usually have success.

Points gained at the line are free. The more you get, the better chance you have at winning. It’s the same with betting on basketball. You can avoid these habits of losing sports bettors and win more NBA bets by figuring out which team shoots more free throws. 

Free Throw Rate (FT Rate) is a simple calculation. You take the Free Throws Made (FTM) and divide that by Field Goals Attempted (FGA).

The Philadelphia 76ers made the most free throws per game (19.5) during the 2021-22 NBA season. The Sixers also attempted the fewest field goals per game (83.7) that season. Not surprisingly, their FT Rate was among the best in the NBA. Philadelphia was the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs that season.

Win More NBA Bets – Turnover Battle 

The fourth and final factor is related to turnovers. Teams that don’t end possessions with turnovers typically fare better and win more games. Teams that turn the ball over a lot don’t win. It’s that simple. 

The measurement is pretty simple for bettors looking to win more NBA bets. The calculation is the number of turnovers divided by the number of offensive possessions. This yields a team’s Turnover Percentage.

The top nine teams in the NBA in Turnover Percentage in the 2021-22 season all made the play-in tournament and/or the playoffs. Teams that have numbers in the 12 to 13 percent range are typically among the best in the league at any given time.

NBA bettors looking to win more bets this playoff season can look to the Four Factors Model for guidance. Teams that make the most of each possession tend to have more success on the floor. That knowledge is valuable to bettors and it will allow them to make strong choices on bets this NBA season.