It’s been an especially busy couple of days, plus I’m sort of living out of a suitcase at the moment, hence the inconsistent blogging here.
OK, just a couple of quick comments:
a) it’s not the most important thing in the world (as opposed to all the other stuff I write about), but the whole preseason “awards” industry is utterly ridiculous.
So, Duke’s Jahlil Okafor is the preseason “player of the year.” To be clear, he’s not played a single solitary minute. And he’s receiving an award that’s called “player of the year.”
b) As I’ve said many times before, Dave Berri’s Wins Produced is, for my money, the best measure of basketball players’ performance. And the guys at boxscore geeks – Patrick Minton, the modeling genius Arturo Galletti and Dre Alvarez – do the best analysis in the business on the basis of Dave’s work.
For added entertainment value this year, Patrick is putting his money where his mouth is and keeping a public record of it. Minton has gone to Vegas just before the start of the NBA season for several seasons now to place bets on the season. This year, he plunked down $7500 on a variety of bets – over/under on team wins and long shot bets on division winners.
Here are his bets. He says he’ll check in once a month or so to see how they’re going. The ones I’ll be most interested in are:
1) Chicago (Patrick bet the under on 55 wins, due in significant part to the unreliability of Derek Rose’s health).
2) Miami (under 44) – Miami is something of a trendy pick to maintain a high level of play even with LeBron’s departure, partly because there is a widespread belief that Chris Bosh gave up so much of his game to play alongside LeBron. Avery Johnson, for example, has them making the Eastern Conference finals. Many others consider them the third best team in the East, behind LeBron’s Cavs and the aforementioned Bulls. Minton’s not buying a big bounce back season from the now 30 year old Bosh, nor a year of solid health from DWade. Miami is off to hot start – 3-0. But it’s a long season.
3) Spurs (over 57) – Minton notes that the *whole* 62-win team is back from a year ago. The old core is aging, but Popovich has built an amazing top-to-bottom roster. Indeed, Minton says the Spurs bench could make the playoffs. The Spurs are the best franchise going in major American team sports for 15-plus years now (slight edge over the Patriots).
I am sure they’re not allowed to, but I’d love to see ESPN analysts put their own money down on their various preseason prognostications and then explain themselves throughout the year.
c) Here, by the way, are Arturo’s team-by-team analyses for the 2014-15 NBA season.
For you masochistic Knicks fans following at home, Arturo has them winning 37.5 games this year (yes, he knows you can’t win half a game). Mike Lupica said yesterday morning that he though the Knicks were two years away, which begs the question: two years away from what? 2016?
I see nothing to be excited about. They locked their tremendously overrated “franchise player” for five years. He’ll be 35 when that contract ends. They’ve traded every draft pick until 2046. There are no particularly promising young players on the roster. If Kevin Durant decided to come to New York in two years, that’d be interesting. But in the meantime, this team is going nowhere. Phil’s not adding to his championship collection any time soon.