Lessons Learned Through November in the NBA

imgres

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

images

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

imgres

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

marcin-gortat-basketball-headshot-photo

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

imgres

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.

crystal-ball-300x225

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. 

Las Vegas Summer League Day 7: Recap

As the Championship Bracket takes form, eight teams still have a chance at becoming the 2013 Las Vegas Summer League Champions. If their second-year players play, the Pseudo Charlotte Bobcats should be considered the favorite. Along with impressive rookie, Cody Zeller, second-year players Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bismack Biyombo and Jeffery Taylor should be talented enough to win out. The biggest threat to Charlotte’s title-hopes (I know right? A possible championship for Charlotte?), will come from the winner of the game between the Pseudo Toronto Raptors and the Pseudo Phoenix Suns.

Also, I was just introduced to “The Rookie Ladder,”  which is put together by Drew Packham of NBA.com. He ranks his top-ten rookies solely due to on-court play, and neglects how the players project against real NBA competition. I’m going to start a competing ‘Rookie Ranker’ – let’s call it the Rookie Elevator (subject to change), that will consider player projection, and eventually become a ROY ranking system just like the Ladder. Check out the Rookie Elevator to see where your favorite rookies ranks!

Rookie Standouts From Day 7

Cody Zeller – PF/C – Charlotte Bobcats 

Cody Zeller

Cody Zeller

I’m starting to hate him less. I still hate him though, and can’t wait to see what happens when he plays against players that match his athletic ability. I just can’t get seem to get his terrible game against Syraccuse from the 2013 NCAA tournament out of my memory. He was forcing horrible shots, and got stuffed like 20 times against smaller players. Despite my bias, I’ll admit that Cody Zeller had another impressive performance yesterday with 18 points on 9-18 shooting to go along with 9 rebounds. From his performances in Vegas, he projects well in the NBA, as evidenced by his high-ranking on The Rookie Elevator (seen below).

C.J. McCollum – PG/SG – Portland Trail Blazers

C.J. McCollum

C.J. McCollum

C.J. McCollum is continuing to prove that teams are acting irrationally for overlooking TOP mid-major players. In a loss to the Pseudo Suns, he had 22 points on 9-26 shooting to go along with 5 assists and 4 rebounds. Though he won’t be able to get that kind of shot volume during the regular season when playing alongside guys like Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicholas (don’t pronounce the s, he’s French) Batum, and Wesley Matthews, I still see the Blazers playing the occasional Lillard-McCollum back court.

Jack Cooley – PF – Memphis Grizzlies

Jack Cooley

Jack Cooley

After 5 steady performances, did Jack Cooley just play his way onto an NBA roster? I certainly think so. He averaging 15.4 PPG and 9.8 RPG, and 20 of his 48 rebounds have been on the offensive glass. Jesus. Who knew a bad-bodied, 6’9”, Luke Harangody look-a-like could be dominating the Vegas SL? Check that link – he and Luke look identical. It’s weird. As long as Jack keeps this up, I won’t be surprised to see him on the end of an NBA bench in 2013-14.

Non-Rookie Standouts From Day 7

Jonas Valanciunas – C/PF – Toronto Raptors

Jonas Valanciunas

Jonas Valanciunas

Third in scoring in the Vegas SL with 18.8 PPG, JV has been a monster in Vegas. Yesterday against the Pseudo Nuggets, Valanciunas put up 15 points on an efficient 5-7 shooting, and added 12 rebounds and 2 blocks while leading his team to a 95-78 victory. Yeah, the Nuggets didn’t really have a big guy, but then again, JV did what he was supposed to do given the situation – dominate. I really like this guy as a player who will make some noise for the lone-team above the border. Call me crazy, but I think he could easily average 15 and 10 for the Raptors this season.

Marquis Teague – PG – Chicago Bulls

Marquis Teague

Marquis Teague

With Goudelock struggling, Teague did everything he could by scoring 21 of his teams 62 points as the still Bulls fell short, losing 68-62 to the Pseudo Miami Heat. Tied for fourth in scoring in Vegas with 18.3 PPG, Teague should be a more than suitable backup for D-Rose come the regular season.

John Henson – PF – Milwaukee Bucks

John Henson

John Henson

If I were to compare John Henson to a species of vegetable, I would compare him to a string bean (same as my comparison last year). However, if I were to project his numbers for this season, I’d say he’s likely to be a 14 and 10 guy for the Bucks in 2013-14. Pretty good numbers for a string bean, I must say.

The Rookie Elevator

First Installment of The Rookie Elevator, The Premier Rookie-Ranking System

1. Victor Oladipo ROY front-runner right now, with best chance given Orlando’s roster

2. Cody Zeller – Too athletic to be terrible. Should be interesting to see how he plays against real NBA big men.

3. C.J. McCollum Proved he can do one thing well, score the basketball.

4. Kelly Olynyk Polished inside-out big man, but his lateral quickness on D is suspect.

5. Reggie Bullock Will be a useful NBA player in his rookie season as a pure shooter.

6. Dennis Schroeder Assists leader in Vegas – Rondo-Potential. His teammates love him too.

7. Ray McCallum Jr. Can’t really shoot, but can get to the bucket. A coach’s son.

8. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Showed a pure shooting stroke toward the end of the Orlando SL, but will it translate to the regular season?

9. Mason Plumlee – Don’t know how much PT he’ll get on the stacked Nets, but he certainly impressed in Orlando.

10.Tim Hardaway Jr. – He looks athletic enough for the NBA from the minutes he did play, but hasn’t played many due to a wrist injury.

Missed the cut: Michael Carter-Williams, Deshaun Thomas, Mason Plumlee, Shabazz Muhammad,  Alex Len (inj.), Anthony Bennett (inj.), Nerlens Noel (inj.), Jack Cooley