Lessons Learned Through November in the NBA

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Just over one month into the season, the NBA has written many story lines. On his way out, the NBA’s Godfather equivalent, David Stern, is tangling the strings of his metaphorical marionettes in the same way that D-Rose twisted the ligaments in his knees.

Without further ado, here are my top 10 obscure story lines of this season thus far. 

Part 1

Top 10 NBA Story Lines Through November

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1. The Boston Celtics (7-12) have more wins that the Boston Nets of Brooklyn (5-12) and the pathetic New York Knicks (3-13). By game-82 I expect this to change (the Celtics future dealings of Brandon Bass, Rajon Rondo and Geraldo Wallace will help this).

But forget the Celtics for a minute – what the hell is going on in New York? Jason Kidd is intentionally spilling soda for timeouts cause he can’t manage a game (why is he drinking those empty calories anyways?), and somehow Chris Smith is still on the Knicks. Both teams should be pushing the panic button at this point.

2. The Bobcats have willingly started Josh McRoberts in 17 of 17 professional basketball games and he has a respectable PER of 14.50). His PER ranks above Josh Smith, Ray Allen, Lance Stephenson, and more!

In other lesser-important player news, Tony Wroten is tearing it up off the bench for the Sixers. In his second year, the 6’6” guard from the University of Washington averaging 12.8 ppg while shooting 43% from the field, and is the first player in NBA history to have a triple double in his first NBA start. From high volume shooter, to 13 point scorer on a lottery team. Strides are strides!

3. Doc Rivers has decided to unleash J.J. Redick (15.8 ppg). As I write this, I find out he is out 6-8 weeks with a torn UCL. As I’ve torn my very own UCL and can speak from experience, I can say that the recovery is painful. However, I’m confident that J.J. will return to his regular, twine-tickling self – as I did when I returned to the hardwood.

4. Derrick Rose had his second catastrophic knee injury, causing Adidas to rethink/regret/be depressed about their $250 million deal with “Pooh.” This deal has become figuratively a pile of poo(h), and definitely makes the top-5 list for most awkward athlete endorsement deals.

5. The Jazz are 4-15 and the Spurs are 15-3!! Oh yeah, that’s what we expected…

6. Damian LillardLaMarcus Aldridge and the Portland Trail Blazers are 15-3 – are the glory days back in Portland?

7. The almost invincible Indiana Pacers are 16-2, and Paul George – not Kevin Durant – has the second best odds behind LeBron to win League MVP.

8. Something about the Rockets being not as good as they should be

9. Something about Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson being good shooters

10. Obligatory comments about LeBron James

Since I just mentioned gambling and can’t turn back, I will choose to forgo the details of 8 through 10, and will make my not-so-smooth transition to part 2 of this blog.

Part 2

A Life Lesson

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So I have a close friend who falls into the same trap every year. Coincidentally, (or not at all) it happens to be right around the start of the NBA season. While he knows that there are WAY more intelligent places to put his money, my idiotic friend insists that even if he does lose any money gambling, he values the entertainment he receives more than any of the financial losses. Fair. But he’s not going to lose money – not this year anyway – so he says.

When his gambling account reaches a certain value he’s going cash it out, and buy the equivalent number of shares of Apple stock ($AAPL) – so he tells himself. Turning sports knowledge and the ability to predict the future into a personal financial asset is simply an alternative investment strategy, and a sign of personal financial responsibility – he explains. But due to the annual whirlwind of “overconfidence and unforeseen circumstances,” I decided to dedicate a set of rules for my close friend in order to try and help him though this NBA season:

Suggestion #1 If you must gamble on sports, do NOT gamble on your favorite players

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For example, my friend has a special affinity for Wizard’s center Marcin Gortat. He’s felt this way ever since Marcin docked his row boat on the shores of Orlando.

Anyways, my buddy bet on Gortat over 9.5 points, and the Polish Hammer trollingly finished with 9. My buddy lost $20 that he said he would “never realistically cash out anyways.”

To be fair, he spends money way less productively on weekends, so whatever, he doesn’t really care. At the end of the day, he doesn’t really hate Gortat for losing a bet by half a point because he knows it happens all the time.

So the learning here is – don’t let gambling ruin your relationships. The relationships you (think you) have (with the players you love) are more important than the money anyway. Same rule applies to money and personal relationships in life. Right?

Too deep – next suggestion.

Suggestion #2 If you MUST gamble on sports, choose your team, and know everything about them

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If you must bet on sports – which I don’t recommend that you do – pick a team and always know when they play, how they play on back-to-back nights, if they’re especially good on national TV etc.

While this rule isn’t foolproof, narrowing your scope can help you mitigate your risk. There are certain intangible factors that you can pick up on if you watch your team often – see National TV Rondo vs Non National TV Rondo. Wait, what? Vegas factors that stuff into the lines also? Really?

Damn – well I guess that leads me to my third, and final suggestion.

Suggestion #3 Don’t gamble on sports

There’s only one rationale in which you should ever legitimize gambling on sports, and that rationale is if you think of your inevitable monetary losses on gambling in the same way as paying for any other form of entertainment.  You spend money, and receive entertainment.

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But since Vegas possesses the world’s first functioning crystal ball, always expect to lose in the end. Well, it’s either a crystal ball or a mathematical term called expected value, but you get the point.

So if you’re content gambling for the entertainment value, then go right ahead. However, if you’re convinced you can make a vats of cash gambling on sports then I suggest you convince yourself otherwise.

Michigan +7.5 @Duke

Any comments or questions? Feel free to comment below or reach out to me via Twitter @gregmschwartz. 

Summer League Day 3 – Wrap-up

Celtics 76 Pacers 74 – “K.O.”

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K.O.

The Kelly Olynyk show continues, and he has earned a nickname, K.O. – I like it. K.O. added another 21 points and 9 boards, and is arguably the most polished big man in the 2013 Orlando Summer League – rookie or not. His one-footers à la Dirk Nowitzki, ability to use his body to shield himself from shot blockers in the paint low, and guard-like passing instincts in the paint make me anxious to see what he’ll be capable of with an NBA roster surrounding him.

Another guy for the C’s who is making noise is the reigning 2013 NBDL Rookie of the Year  out of Alabama, Tony Mitchell. He’s got the size at 6’6” and the horizontal athleticism to guard the NBA 2, and has been putting up great numbers for the Celtics thus far – he tossed in another 15 points today.

While Miles Plumlee took a step backward from his previous two games (9 points 7 rebounds), the Pacers got another encouraging performance from Solomon Hill (15 points 4 rebounds 3 steals). Also notable is Jonny Flynn‘s reappearance in the NBA scene. After his rookie campaign where he averaged 13.5 PPG in 81 starts for the T’Wolves, I’m confused as to where his talent went.

P.S. – I am actively rooting against Fab Melo, and was pumped when he took a jump hook, and airballed it.

Thunder 79 Pistons 74 – “A Thunderous 4th Quarter”

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Reggie Jackson

Perhaps the most exciting game this week featured an Orlando Summer League record 35 point outburst from second year guard out of Boston College, Reggie Jackson. He scored 23 in the fourth quarter, and was lighting it up in every way possible. Peyton Siva (12 points 7 assists 1 turnover) and Kim English were helpless, and the OKC bench was erupting with every bucket. Unfortunately, Jackson’s performance overshadowed a breakout game from Pistons rookie, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who ended with 19 points on 6-13 from the field and 4-10 from three, and added in a violent dunk. I think KCP will be a game-to-game streaky shooter, but will always give you his steady athletic defensive intensity.

Rockets 85 Jazz 71 – “Burke Struggles Again”

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Trey Burke

Trey Burke didn’t play any better today as he continues to struggle shooting the rock (11 points, 5-15 FGM-A), and taking care of the rock (5 assists 4 turnovers). After hitting a three on Utah’s first possession, his next two possessions were a bad brick on wide open three, and a pocket picking by Patrick Beverley. I remain unconcerned as it is just two games. Unrelated to Burke – I really like the Frenchman Center, Rudy Gobert, and not just for his 9’7” inch standing reach, but also because I think he has a good defensive understanding, and could make a impact off the bench for the young Jazz.

For the Rockets, I think Terrence Jones is ready to take his game to the next level. He’s noticeably added mass to his upper-body, and seems much more confident than he did a year ago. He scored just 6 points today – not as good as his 25 he put up in game one – but something tells me he’s ready to break out. There should be some fun battles in practice between he and newly added, Thomas Robinson, his main competitor for minutes.

Heat 94 Magic 80 – “Steady Victor, but No Victory”

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Victor Oladipo

In general, I don’t like to take much stock in the outcomes of these games, but this Magic should’ve won this game as they have better players. Victor Oladipo had a game-high 22, and was effective from three going 2-2 and at the line going 12-14. I really like that the Magic are playing Olapido at point guard as it’s allowing him to work on his ball handling, and assert himself as a leader. Neither Harkless (-22 +/-) nor Nicholson (-20 +/-) looked great, but they’ll probably play better tomorrow.

For the Heat, second-round pick out of Long Beach State, James Ennis, continues to be a steady performe as he had a team-high 19 points along with 6 rebounds. Other than possibly Ennis, I don’t think anyone on this roster will make the regular season roster – although I think they should sign D.J. Stephens for gimmicky reasons  – he’s 6’5” and can kiss the rim! Give me a reason they shouldn’t sign him?!

Summer league Day 2 – Wrap-up

Thunder 79 Magic 78

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Andrew Nicholson

In the battle of the unrelated Lambs, Doron finished with an efficient 16 points for the Magic on 4-9 (FGM-A) and 2-4 (3PM-A), while Jeremy shot an inefficient 4-16 (FGM-A) and a cold 1-9 (3PM-A) to finish with 11 for the Thunder. Doron 1 / Jeremy 0.

Andrew Nicholson, the sleepiest looking player in the NBA since T-Mac, starred for Orlando in this game with some Hakeem Olajuwon shimmy shakes, and drop steps, leading to a game-high 19 points. Olapido was bothered by the quicker and smaller defender, Reggie Jackson (he also had a big time flush on Mo Harkless), but got to the line and finished with 12. For the Thunder, Daniel Orton looks trimmer and moved really well yesterday, finishing with 9 points and 7 rebounds in just 16 minutes. Lastly, Grant Jerrett continued to prove his hot shooting touch from the outside, going 4-8 from beyond the arc, putting up 14 points.

Pacers 96 76ers 75

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Miles Plumlee

Philly’s roster is pretty weak, but it’s allowing the Sixers staff to get a really good look at MCW, and Khalif Wyatt. MCW was attacking, but probably too much as he shot just 4-20 from the field and finished with 13 points. MCW cannot shot, and bricked several shots off the dribble. However, he took care of the ball much better yesterday, and didn’t turn the ball over once. Khalif Wyatt is making a strong push to make this Sixers team after pouring in a game-high 25 points.

For the Pacers, Solomon Hill who had 22 points on 4-5 from 3-point land, opened some eyes for the first time yesterday. He lost about 15 pounds since his days at Arizona, and looked fleet-a-foot. Miles Plumlee is an awkward athlete, but an effective body that can finish down low, and can block shots. Plumlee finished with 16 points on 7-13 from the field, and 4 blocks.

Celtics 93 Pistons 63

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Olynyk Clinic

The announcers continue to butcher Kelly Olynyk‘s name, often calling him Kyle, but it never really phased him. He only played 21 minutes, but finished with 13 points and 6 rebounds in a game that was never close. He continues to be the most dynamic player in this Summer League, however, I wish Andre Drummond played to see how Kelly would fare against a serious big-bodied big man.

For the Pistons, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope airballed 2 three-pointers, and just hasn’t found his rhythm yet. Slava Kravtsov had 9 points 8 rebounds and 2 memorable stuffs – they were both on Fab Melo at the rim. Other notable performances were Darius Johnson-Odom with 22 points, and Phil Pressy with 12 points and 4 assists.

Heat 93 Nets 86

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D.J. Stephens

D.J. Stephens, phonetically pronounced ‘STEF-fans,’ the man with the 46-inch vert who can kiss the rim made his debut for the Heat, and that’s all I really cared to watch in this game. DJ finished with 1 point. Tough debut. Scotty Hopson, the guard out of Tennessee, played really well both inside and out, finishing with a team high 22 point effort for the Heat.

Mason Plumlee starred for the Nets with a perfect 8-8 from the field, and 23 points. He was very active, had a few nice slams, and looks like a solid pickup for the Nets who can use a guy like him coming off the bench.

On to day three…