According to an ESPN report, the Dallas Mavericks are hiring legendary NBA bettor Bob Voulgaris as their director of quantitative research and development, a move that further entrenches the links between the league and the sports betting world.

Bob Voulgaris Dallas Mavericks
Famed NBA bettor Bob Voulgaris will be joining the Dallas Mavericks as director of quantitative research and development. (Image: Jerome Miron/USA Today Sports)

Voulgaris is well known as a successful NBA bettor, having famously taken advantage of inefficiencies in halftime totals and other markets to beat the bookmakers over his career.

Cuban Looks to Give Mavs an Edge

The Mavericks may be the perfect fit for Voulgaris. Owner Mark Cuban has never been afraid to take chances to help improve his team, and he has made it perfectly clear that he thinks legalized betting will be a huge boon to not only the NBA, but professional sports in general.

“It doubled the value of the professional sports franchises in a second,” Cuban told ESPN in May after the Supreme Court issued a ruling that struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. “It will increase interest, it will add to what happens in our arena and in stadiums. It will increase the viewership for our biggest customers online and on TV.”

It’s not entirely clear exactly how Voulgaris will be utilized in the Mavericks organization. The report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe suggested that he will be used to help the team take a big-picture look at on-court strategy, though it would be easy to imagine that the depth of his analysis could also come in handy when it comes to roster construction and other areas.

This isn’t the first time that Voulgaris has been tapped by an NBA franchise for his knowledge. According to the Washington Post, Voulgaris also signed a contract with an unnamed co-owner of an NBA team during the 2009-10 season in order to help out with the team’s roster construction.

A Sports Betting Success Story

According to Voulgaris, his high-stakes NBA betting career began in 2000 when he bet his life savings on the Los Angeles Lakers, winning at 13/2 odds on a wager of around $80,000.

He would then figure out that bookmakers were badly pricing halftime totals by simply splitting the overall total in half, not accounting for the fact that the end of the fourth quarter was often stretched out and would contain a disproportionate share of the points. Combine that with insights on the tendencies of a handful of NBA coaches, and Voulgaris was able to find plenty of edges to exploit.

That success made him believe that he would make an excellent addition to an NBA front office.

“This is going to sound really arrogant, but the whole process has led me to believe that I’d be able to put together a better team than almost any general manager in the league,” he told ESPN the Magazine’s Scott Eden in 2013. “If not maybe all.”

The NBA has been on the front lines of accepting sports betting as a positive for professional leagues. Commissioner Adam Silver has long argued that legalized betting would be better for the integrity of competition than unregulated, underground gambling, and the NBA announced MGM Resorts International as its official gambling partner this summer, the first such deal for a major North American professional sports league.

If Voulgaris wants to have an immediate impact on the Mavericks, he’ll have some work to do. Few expect Dallas to be competitive this season, with William Hill offering 300/1 on the Mavs to win the 2019 NBA championship.