Bet Like A Lady

Differences Between NBA and WNBA Betting: Tips for Beginners

An intro to the basics of WNBA basketball and ways you can bet on the world's most elite women's basketball league.

The WNBA is set to have a record-breaking season this summer after the women’s NCAA tournament smashed viewership numbers from previous years. Several teams have already sold out their season ticket allotment, and multiple games have had to be moved to larger venues to accommodate interest.

This all comes on the heels of Caitlin Clark being drafted first overall to the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, after her record breaking college career at the University of Iowa. Along with her, several other fan favorite rookies like Angel Reese, Cameron Brink, and Kamilla Cardoso will be making their professional debuts as well.

Long time fans of the WNBA will be exciting to see A’ja Wilson and the Las Vegas Aces go for their third straight WNBA championship this season, while the New York Liberty, led by Breanna Stewart, will be hoping to get back to the Finals this season. On top of it all, the Paris Olympics will see many of the league’s best represent their countries on the world’s biggest sports stage.

As we gear up for the beginning of WNBA training camps and preseason next week, let’s take a look at some tips and strategies on betting on women’s basketball.

Differences between WNBA and NBA basketball

While the game of basketball is similar no matter where in the world you are playing, there are a few key differences in the WNBA that are relevant to betting.

The first is that the games are slightly shorter in the WNBA compared to the NBA. In the WNBA, there are still four quarters, but each quarter is 10 minutes as opposed to 12 minutes. This accounts for eight less minutes of game time total.

Due to that, the scores of WNBA games are usually slightly lower, in the 80-100 range in points per team as opposed to the NBA where it’s normal for a team to score more than 100 points in a game.

Up until last season, coaches were also not allowed to challenge calls made by the referees, but they gave each coach one challenge per game in the 2023 season. In the NBA, coaches get one challenge to start the game, and if their first challenge is successful, they get a second to use. Regardless of the outcome of the second challenge, they do not get anymore after that.

Along with those factors, there are a few differences when it comes to the way games are called from the referees.

There’s also a difference in the style of play in the WNBA versus the NBA. While the NBA has swayed towards being a game played more on the perimeter with three point shots, as well as things like dunking being heavily favored in NBA basketball, the WNBA is a little different. While WNBA players also play a lot out in the perimeter, there is also a little bit more of a focus on foundational basketball in the WNBA. Players drive to the basket more, and players typically play a variety of positions in the WNBA, a little more so than the NBA.

Betting on Basketball

While there are some differences between the basketball seen in the WNBA versus the NBA, the betting basics are very similar. It’s just important to keep the differences in mind when betting on things like point totals or player over/unders, knowing that the game is shorter in length.

Like NBA Betting, you can bet on things like the point spread, money line, and point totals of a specific WNBA game as well as individual player prop bets and futures for teams and awards.

While point spread, money line and total bets predict the outcome of the game, prop bets on players focus on that players’ individual performance.

Point Spread predicts not only which team will win the game but also how many points they win by. For example, if a team is -7 favorites to win the game, they have to win by at least seven points for you to win your bet. The team has to not only win, but be in our outside of the margin of points predicted.

The money line bets are soley focused on the outcome of the game, regardless of score. Whoever has the “-” next to their wager is the favorite to win the game according to the oddsmakers. Betting on the underdog may reap more rewards for you, but it’s also riskier, given that the odds are against them. Depending on injury reports, match ups, or other factors though, sometimes if you have expert knowledge in a match up, people will go against the odds.

Point totals focus on the actual points scored in the game, regardless of outcome. If you bet on the point total in a game to be over 200 points for example, that means you think both teams will score a combined 200+ points no matter who wins. Again, it’s important to remember WNBA games are shorter than NBA games for this kind of betting. Also, some teams in the WNBA play faster, more offensive focused schemes, making them score more in games than other teams, who may be younger, or focus more on defence. It’s the same as the NBA in this way, but sometimes the difference team to team a bit more drastic.

When it comes to player props, this is when learning about player stats comes in handy. Some players just score more in a game than others, and usually the odds you see in the book you’re betting in reflect that. In basketball though, it’s important to make sure you look up matchups as well though. You can bet on everything from a players’ individual point totals in a game, to their rebounds or assists, to who will make the first basket in a game.

Lastly, there is futures, where you can vote on things like who will win the 2024 WNBA Championship, to who will win MVP or Defensive Player of the Year. These odds change continuously throughout the year depending on how each team and player is performing.

The WNBA schedule

The WNBA basically does an opposite schedule than the NBA. Training Camps for WNBA teams start in late April, with preseason running concurrently, and the official regular season starting in mid-May.

Typically in July there is a week-long break for the WNBA All-Star game. On years where there is a Summer Olympic Games taking place, there is usually about a month-long break in WNBA play. This is because players are allowed to go compete in the Olympics for their national teams, and it would be too many absences to keep the WNBA going. On these years, the WNBA season typically runs longer, into late October, for the playoffs.

In non-Olympic years, the WNBA regular season usually wraps up around the end of August/beginning of September. After a short break, teams will go into the first round of the playoffs, and the playoffs will go into early/mid-October. All of this is pushed a few weeks later in Olympic Years.

In years where there is a FIBA World Cup in October, the WNBA season ends up being a little shorter. There is never a World Cup and Olympic year in the same year. In World Cup years, teams will play more frequently in order to finish the season earlier. In these cases, the regular season usually wraps up in mid-August, with the playoffs wrapping up in late September.

WNBA Playoff format

While the WNBA is split into an Eastern and Western Conference, these conferences have no effect on the playoff standings.

All current WNBA teams (12 in 2024, will be 13 in 2025), are ranked in the same standings. The number of games each team wins and loses determines their standings (win percentage), and tiebreakers are determined by the individual season series of the two teams tied in rankings. For example, if the Las Vegas Aces and New York Liberty were tied for first place with the same record at the end of the season, but the Aces won three of the four games the teams played against each other, the Aces would get the first spot.

At the end of the season, the top eight teams in the standings make the playoffs. The first place team is matched with the eighth place team, second place with seventh place, and so on. In the first round, teams play a best of three series. The higher seeded teams get the advantage of hosting the first two games, and if a third game is necessary it’s hosted by the lower seeded team.

The semi-finals then turn into a best of five series. The higher seeded team in the table again hosts the first two games. The third game is hosted by the lower seeded team. If more games are necessary, the lower seeded team will host the fourth game, and the higher seeded team will host the fifth game.

After that is the finals, with the home and away format working the same as the semi-finals. It’s still a best of five game series as well.

When it comes to betting, most of playoff betting works the same as in-season betting. The difference comes with the addition of betting on things like who will win the series, and in how many games. Once the finals approach, they also award one player a “Finals MVP” award, which you can place wagers on as well.

The Commissioners Cup

The WNBA actually introduced an in-season tournament before the NBA, called The Commissioner’s Cup. Taking inspiration from similar European tournaments, the Cup games run concurrently with the regular season in the WNBA.

Each team’s first home and away game against every other team in the league is a Cup game. This is where the East and West Conferences matter, because the final Commissioner’s Cup game ends up being the teams with the highest Cup game record in each conference. Again, tiebreakers are determined by match up record between the tied teams.

Usually in August, the Commissioner’s Cup Final game takes place. The only game that does NOT count toward the team’s final season record in the Cup tournament is the final game.

Another unique aspect to the Cup tournament is the charity piece of it. Each team picks a local organization prior to the start of the season, and every Cup game, money is donated to the organization based on who wins, and other factors. In the Finals game, while players are awarded money individually, their organizations also receive different amounts of money based on the result.

Conclusion

Betting on the WNBA is not really all that different from betting on the NBA. Both leagues provide elite basketball with many superstars to root for, and games are extremely competitive. The potential to have fun and succeed on some bets is there.

With any sport, the most successful bettors are the ones who do their research. Knowing the rosters, player capabilities, match ups, and coaching tendencies will help you make informed bets. It’s important to analyze the teams and players you are betting on for a while before trying to predict what they will do.

Responsible betting practices help save you money but also keep you safe. Many sports books have tools to help ensure betting stays a fun and leisurely hobby.

With the WNBA growing more and more, these athletes are primed to deliver one of the best seasons in history!

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