Nba nerd

2016 BoxscoreGeeks Portfolio Update

If you missed it, this year I went to Las Vegas and plopped down some money on the 2016-17 NBA Season. Normally, I like to do updates about once a month, but this year I decided to wait a lot longer. And boy am I glad I did because there'd have been a lot of crow to eat after my first one-month update!

First, let's look at the bets, and then I'll talk a bit about some of them.

Team Standing PyW/L Bet $ % Odds Payout (W) Result Payout ROI
MEM 32 - 22 (.593) 47 - 35 UNDER 43.0 $400 10.0% -110 $764.0 ? 0.0 0
CHA 24 - 28 (.462) 39 - 43 OVER 41.5 $400 10.0% -110 $764.0 ? 0.0 0
Field vs. GSW   68 - 14 CHAMP $300 7.5% +120 $660.0 ? 0.0 0
PHI 18 - 33 (.353) 27 - 55 OVER 24.5 $300 7.5% -110 $573.0 ? 0.0 0
BOS 33 - 18 (.647) 51 - 31 UNDER 52.5 $300 7.5% -110 $573.0 ? 0.0 0
GSW 43 - 8 (.843) 68 - 14 OVER 66.5 $200 5.0% -110 $382.0 ? 0.0 0
WAS 30 - 21 (.588) 47 - 35 UNDER 43.5 $200 5.0% -110 $382.0 ? 0.0 0
HOU 2nd (3.0 GB) 56 - 26 DIV $200 5.0% +1000 $2200.0 ? 0.0 0
HOU 38 - 17 (.691) 56 - 26 OVER 44.0 $200 5.0% -110 $382.0 ? 0.0 0
CHA 3rd (6.0 GB) 39 - 43 DIV $200 5.0% +325 $850.0 ? 0.0 0
BRK 9 - 43 (.173) 16 - 66 OVER 22.5 $200 5.0% -110 $382.0 ? 0.0 0
CHI 26 - 26 (.500) 41 - 41 OVER 40.5 $200 5.0% -110 $382.0 ? 0.0 0
MIN 5th (14.0 GB) 32 - 50 DIV $200 5.0% +500 $1200.0 ? 0.0 0
MIN 19 - 33 (.365) 32 - 50 OVER 42.5 $200 5.0% -110 $382.0 ? 0.0 0
IND 29 - 22 (.569) 44 - 38 UNDER 45.5 $200 5.0% -110 $382.0 ? 0.0 0
LAL 18 - 36 (.333) 26 - 56 OVER 26.0 $200 5.0% -110 $382.0 ? 0.0 0
Field vs. GSW   68 - 14 CHAMP $100 2.5% +130 $230.0 ? 0.0 0
Totals       $4000 100%       $0.0 0.0%

The blue rows are those where the bet is marginally on track (or better). And some of them are a bit too optimistic given the trendlines (e.g. Chicago and LA's Pythagorean expectation is probably optimistic given their fast starts vs. their current play level). And as you can see, even in the extremely optimistic scenario where all of those bets cash, we gross only a little over $3900, which means the portfolio needs a couple of huge swings (dare I say miracles?) to make any money. Let's talk about why.

Public Enemies #1 and #2: Memphis and Charlotte

All I can say to Charlotte is... what the fuck, dudes? This team started out 8-3. Even after 40 games, the bet looked to be in pretty good shape, but now they've lost 12 of their last 15, and I have *serious* doubts that they can beat Brooklyn tonight (editor's note from the future: they did win ... barely). What a turnaround for one of the two biggest bets in the portfolio. Ouch.

Memphis is another "what the fuck.....are you guys putting in your Wheaties and can I have some too?" Conley, Allen, Gasol, and Carter have a combined age of 136 years and are all in the team's top 5. Oh, yeah, and Conley tore his ACL not long ago and broke his freaking back just a few months ago. The Grizzlies give no fucks and are on the way to 47 wins. I'll probably take the under again next year because right now you know Father Time is in a trailer somewhere watching NBA League Pass and screaming "Oh, come on!"

Public Enemy #3: Minnesota

Oh, Minny. You'll always be the Lucy to my Charlie. Ever since the 2003 Western Conference finals, when Sam Cassell's injury allowed a Lakers team that had no business getting that far to advance to the finals, where Detroit rightfully thrashed them.

I'll admit, I fell for all the hype. At first, I thought 35 or so was a good over bet and didn't want to touch 42 because seriously, teams full of 20-year-olds do not win 45 games. But then I saw KAT putting up David Robinson numbers and doing this kind of nonsense in the preseason, and I threw all logic out the window.

They've let me down big time, but even worse is that they've done a remarkable job of winning when they are playing another team with an OVER on this portfolio, with wins against Charlotte, Chicago, Houston, and Brooklyn. Between that and gifting the Grizzlies 3 wins, I'm not a big fan of this franchise right now.

Public Enemy #4: Washington

This one is another big head-scratcher. They started 3-9, and we looked like geniuses, and then...well, who the hell knows what happened. It's like after November; they did a body switch with Charlotte. In fact, the Pythagorean 47 win projection is probably too low, again because it's weighted down a bit by their very slow start, which probably doesn't reflect the team's current level of play.

Fingers crossed

The miracles that this portfolio needs are for one or more of the above trends to dramatically reverse and for a long shot (such as Houston winning the division) to come in. Unfortunately, it looks like the one trend that is reversing is precisely the one I don't need -- Minnesota is 8-7 in their last 15.

The Wizards are definitely head-scratchers---their home record compares with the elites and their road record is gosh awful.
Boston seems to be getting better...
And Minnesota is shooting itself in the foot by giving heavy minutes to "stars": a #1 pick and a slam dunk champ.
Wiggins and Lavine are both in their third years and kudos to the TWolves for giving them time to develop. But their situation does raise a couple of questions: what is the learning curve for player development and how long should a team wait before they jettison one, and if they're not in title contention why wouldn't they afford the same opportunity to another young player that's been sitting on the bench (i.e., Tyus Jones)?
Holy cow (and way off topic)! Dedmon vs Drummond last night?
Whelp, looks like it'll be a bad year Patrick... tough luck. I wouldn't have taken the Memphis or the Minnesota bets but the rest of them were pretty reasonable. I guess I would have stayed away from Charlotte too but that is mostly due to personal ignorance, I've ignored them for years.
Many of these bets seem to presuppose a rational thought process, and/or ignore context. Minnesota has the worst all time winning percentage among the thirty NBA teams and we should always expect things to go wrong with that organization. The Lakers are possibly the most poorly managed team in the league in the post-Jerry Buss era and we should continue to expect bad things from that organization. The Nets have a remarkably untalented roster and were an easy bet to win around 16 games. The Bulls organization is also a disaster and the downside there is significant.

Conversely, the Celtics are an extremely well managed, and well coached, organization, and so we should expect their front office to make good decisions, including decisions during the season.

If, in the future, a person could take these advanced stats models and combine them with knowledge of how teams are actually managed or likely to be managed, I think you could make a lot of money. For example, I would like to know what the over/under was for the Knicks. I bet it was around 46 wins. That organization is a complete disaster, and if I were in a position to place these bets on an annual basis, I would probably wager a lot of money on the under, every single season, or at least as long as that team is owned by the terrible James Dolan. I expected this Knicks team to be the disaster that it is and win around 32 games. It was quite hilarious this preseason to see Derrick Rose call the Knicks a "super team" a la Golden State and Cleveland.
I am looking at preseason over under odds, and these are all bets that would have intrigued me prior to the season:

Hawks 44 wins: excellent management and coaching, weak conference, Al Horford overrated and not a great loss, a very obvious bet on the over here.

Nets 21.5 wins: absolutely terrible roster, an easy bet on the under.

Bobcats 40.5 wins: I agree that this is a good bet on the over, this is a clever management team and coaching staff.

Mavs 39 wins: Holy shit, a ton of money needed to be placed on the under, that roster is a joke as a result of year after year of incompetent management by Mark Cuban. The brilliant coaching of Rick Carlisle only gets you so far.

Clippers 54 wins: absolutely terrible management decisions by Doc Rivers, plus multiple injury prone stars, makes a bet on the under an easy call.

Lakers 25 wins: terrible ownership in the post-Jerry Buss era plus a lousy roster makes this an obvious bet on the under.

Pelicans 36.5 wins: terrible management, terrible supporting cast, and an injury prone star, easy bet on the under.

Knicks 40 wins: wow, super easy bet on the under, always bet on the Knicks to finish well below .500.

Magic 36.5 wins: I know I'm sounding like a broken record but terrible management, lousy roster, this was an easy bet on the under.

Sixers 25 wins: I agree that this is a good bet on the over.

Jazz 47.5: Excellent management, excellent roster, lots of reasons to believe this team would be much improved, an easy bet on the over.

Spurs 57.5 wins: What a gift! Easy bet on the over, are you kidding me? Best organization in the league, hands down, they are always a great bet to win at least 60 games.
Betting the under on 25 or 21.5 wins always seems risky to me regardless of how bad the team is. I'd stay away from those as much as I'd stay away from any over in the 60s. 30-55 seems like a better spot to make a move if you don't believe in a franchise.
Danny Ferry (with a Cavs and Spurs pedigree) had a hand in building the recent Hawks 60 win team. He's with the Pelicans now.

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