Portfolio Checkin: First Half of 2017/18

Here, again, are the bets:

$ Team Standing PyW/L Bet ?
$400 (10.0%) Field vs. GSW   64-18 CHAMP ⏲
$200 (5.0%) CHA 23 - 33 35 - 47 OVER 42.5 ğŸ‘Ž
$200 (5.0%) NYK 23 - 34 33 - 49 OVER 29.0 👍
$200 (5.0%) UTH 28 - 28 42 - 40 OVER 41.0 ⏲
$200 (5.0%) OKC 32 - 25 47 - 35 UNDER 53.5 👍
$200 (5.0%) ORL 18 - 37 27 - 55 OVER 32.5 ğŸ‘Ž
$200 (5.0%) NOR 29 - 26 42 - 40 OVER 39.5 👍
$200 (5.0%) LAC 28 - 26 42 - 40 OVER 45.0 ğŸ‘Ž
$200 (5.0%) DEN 30 - 26 43 - 39 OVER 45.5 ğŸ‘Ž
$200 (5.0%) CLE 33 - 22 46 - 36 UNDER 54.5 👍
$200 (5.0%) BOS 40 - 18 55 - 27 UNDER 54.5 ğŸ‘Ž
$100 (2.5%) TOR 2nd (.5 GB) 59 - 23 DIV ⏲
$100 (2.5%) MEM 18 - 37 28 - 54 UNDER 37.5 👍
$100 (2.5%) POR 31 - 26 44 - 38 UNDER 43.5 ⏲
$100 (2.5%) WAS 32 - 24 46 - 36  UNDER 49.0 👍
$100 (2.5%) MIL 3rd (2 GB) 44 - 38 DIV ğŸ‘Ž
$100 (2.5%) PHI 3rd (9.5 GB) 44 - 38 DIV ğŸ‘Ž
$100 (2.5%) DET 27 - 28 40 - 42 OVER 38.5 👍
$100 (2.5%) IND 32 - 25 45 - 37 OVER 31.5 
$100 (2.5%) UTH 5th (5.5 GB) 42 - 40 DIV ⏲
$100 (2.5%) BRK 19 - 38 42 - 40 OVER 28.5 👍
$100 (2.5%) CHI   27 - 55 PLAYOFF ğŸ‘Ž
$100 (2.5%) HOU 42 - 13 62 - 20 OVER 55.5 👍
$100 (2.5%) ATL 18 - 39 27 - 55 UNDER 25.5 ⏲
$100 (2.5%) IND   45 - 37 PLAYOFF 👍
$4000 (there are 2 $100 RoY bets as well)

The ? column is essentially my current prediction about the bet:

👍 means I'm feeling good about this bet

ğŸ‘Ž means I'm feeling very bad about this bet (I'm lumping those that are already lost into this category)

⏲ means I'm waiting it out

 means I have already won this bet (yay!)

Let's break 'em down.

The Knicks: The important thing about this bet was always that the absense of Carmelo was unlikely to cost them any wins. I still think Porzingis is massively overrated (perhaps not in terms of potential, but right now), but Kanter is pretty underrated as well and is their (unsung) MVP so far. Therefore, I am not concerned that Porzingis' injury spells doom for this bet, even aside from the fact that all they need to scrape out is 7 wins out the rest of the way. I still think 33ish wins is pretty realistic.

The Thunder: The flip side of that coin. Melo was overrated in his prime. The hype around Anthony and George just wasn't warranted. The Thunder are actually best when Westbrook just does his thing and Adams crashes the rim and/or the boards, but as we saw last year, that doesn't make a 54 win team. I'd love to see what Westbrook would do if they followed the "LeBron" team-building model and just surrounded Westbrook with shooters and one guy who can crash the rim. They've been doing better the last month or so, and you hear a lot about how that is because Melo is "buying in", but it's really more because Adams is "taking off" -- he's having a monster season.

The Pelicans: Cousins has actually been pretty good this year, but his turnover rate is still just horrific. This one will of course come down to Anthony Davis remaining healthy.

The Cavs: Ok. Weird situation. Before the trade deadline, this was a team that was pretty streaky. It seemed like it would alternate 10-15 game stretches between mediocrity and invulnerability. And when Thomas came back, he looked horrible, and with Love injured...I started to think that the bet on Milwaukee might have legs.

Then the trades happened, and what I'll say about that is that I don't think I'd have taken the under 55 bet on this new roster. George Hill is a big upgrade from their previous point guards, who were all ever over the hill or still not really back from injuries. Nance, Jr. is a great fit next to LeBron, fitting the same mold that Thompson does, and "motivated" LeBron is the scariest LeBron.

It's unclear to me what the overlap between "guys who bitched about Kevin Love during that meeting" and "guys who were traded", but here's hoping it's nearly 100% for the team's sake. Still, I think it will be tough for the team to find 21 more wins.

The Grizzlies: Father Time is collecting the bill at last? I don't think that is really the explanation -- the team isn't actually that old anymore (although Gasol certainly looks a little worse for wear). It's mostly just that this team has long been a fragile collection of players affected by either age or injury. They've always felt like a house of cards to me.

The Wizards: I don't have a lot to say about the Wizards. They are a good-but-not-great team. I think Oubre, Jr. has been a pleasant improvement, but I also think John Wall is underperforming a lot, so it hasn't led to higher-than-expected wins. It's possible that Wall could have a late-season resurgence but the Wizards are going to have to finish really strong to get to 50 wins.

The Pistons: By improving his free throw shooting to 62%, Drummond drammatically increased his effectiveness -- the opposing coach can no longer strategically force him off of the floor. As long as he stays healthy, this bet looks pretty good, even if the Pistons aren't playing as strongly as they did to start the season. I'm not sure if the Griffin trade heavily impacts my prediction here, but I do feel that the trade makes the team stronger in the short run -- whether or not it will pay off in the long run is fodder for a separate article.

The Pacers: The Pacers are on track to deliver two bets for me. They've already won me the regular season over bet, and at this point it would probably take a natural disaster or a repeat of Malice in the Palice to prevent them from making the playoffs. I'm doing my best not to feel smug about this, but it again game down to the loss of a "star" player (Paul George) having too great an impact on the public's perception of the team, as well as an under-appreciation for his replacement (Oladipo). This was a pretty straightforward over bet and I suspect a lot of experienced sports bettors agreed with me on these, along with the Knicks and Thunder bets.

The Nets: I'm feeling more nervous about the Nets than I was during November, but I still believe they are going to win more than their fair share of games during the dog days of February and March, when Nets players will be playing for future contracts/playing time/etc and the opposing teams will have strong incentives to tank. This will come down to the wire.

The Rockets: This is clearly a team built to handle the rigors of a long season. Adding Paul has helped them a lot, not just because he brings extra wins, but because the extra depth has proved invaluable. The Rockets have had injury stretches, but rarely have both players missed significant time, and that's why they are on pace to win 62 games.

The Hornets: Sigh. Frank the Tank (whose nickname I find really appropriate, but not for reasons that he would like) is killing me for the second year in a row. The Hornets have a pretty "unlucky" record -- a team with their point differential should have about 4 extra wins, but even if their luck was average, they'd be in trouble with all the minutes given to subpar players. Kidd-Gilchrist isn't the player they need him to be; perhaps there's a window that closes up after too many consecutive years with major injury? I've given up on this one.

The Jazz: Holy Volatility Batman! I'd given up on this bet a couple of weeks ago, and then they rattled off 9 straight wins. Donovan Mitchell looks like he's begginning to figure things out, and Rubio has been playing much better since the new year. The Gobert injury was obviously devastating but it's beginning to look like the Jazz might just squeek this out for me, which would be an astunding reversal of fortune.

The division bet, however, is clearly out of reach.

The Magic: I've given up on this one. Too many missed minutes from Payton and Vucevic, too much Jonathan Simmons, too shallow a roster. They'd have to play like a playoff team to catch up at this point, and that's not going to happen.

The Nuggets: I can't help thinking that the Mudiay trade helps a little here (by subtracting a negative), even though his minutes were on the decline. They're right on the edge, but the West is getting tougher as teams fight for playoff spots. This will probably come down to schedule (both strength-of-schedule and schedule "luck" such as catching teams that are resting a star player). I've got my fingers crossed, but this one will be tough.

The Celtics: The Celtics are coming back down to earth hard, but I'm not sure if this bet is within reach just yet. Still, after their incredible start, it is remarkable that we're even talking about this possibility -- a hidden benefit of waiting so long to do one of these checkups is that I no longer have to look back at status updates from December or January and shake my head at any earlier predictions (I was ready to chalk this up as "unwinnable" in December). Which brings me to...

Toronto: Toronto is a half game out of the lead for the Atlantic, and is clearly one of the top 5 teams in the league -- they are now on a pythagorean pace that surpasses Boston's. I think most odds-makers would put even money on them to win the Atlantic, which is pretty good considering the payout is nearly four to one!


These I'll lump all together as "lost" bets.

So, overall, it looks like things are going pretty well. A bit too early to celebrate, for sure, but at this point last season it looked like I was on track to lose half of my money, so I'm quite happy to be in this position! I'll try to get an update out in Mid-march as well, as we come down to the wire things should get even more interesting.