I started this one last year, and to be honest, I did pretty damn good.  I came out at $6090 on my virtual $5115 wager – a 19% return on investment!  (Though I would have made $6184.50 had I bet the same amount on every team, so basically my confidence ratings were crappy.)

I don’t see a good reason not to do this again at least the one more time.  I’ll let the paragraph from last year that explains why the odd dollar values stand, right here:

What the heck is the deal with $5115? I’ll get to that in a minute. But the idea is that I have to lay a bet on each of the 30 over/unders. Rather than allow myself to distribute the money completely freely, I’m going to play it like a pick ’em with confidence points. For instance, I think the line on the Sacramento Kings this year is really, really wrong. So I’m going to put $30 on them, then $29 on the line I think is next safest, and so on. Except $30 doesn’t really work great, because (as best as I can figure – remember, I’m not a big gambler) your typical over/under bet pays at +110, or in other words, wager $11 to win $10. So if I bet $30 and won, then I’d get the bet back plus $27.27272727. That’s just tough to deal with. So instead of betting $30, I’m going to bet $30*11 = $330, so that if I win, I get $300 on top. It just makes everything come out in whole numbers. And that means that the total I have to wager is $5115.

And with that said, time to do some non-gambling!

(Odds taken from Westgate Las Vegas Superbook 9/21/16)

Team O/U Wins My Pick Act. Wins Wager Return
Philadelphia 76ers 27.5 Under 28 $330 $0
Toronto Raptors 49.5 Over 51 $319 $609
Indiana Pacers 43.5 Over 42 $308 $0
New Orleans Pelicans 36.5 Under 34 $297 $567
Boston Celtics 51.5 Over 53 $286 $546
Memphis Grizzlies 43.5 Over 43 $275 $0
Dallas Mavericks 39.5 Over 33 $264 $0
Minnesota Timberwolves 41.5 Under 31 $253 $483
New York Knicks 38.5 Under 31 $242 $462
Sacramento Kings 32.5 Over 32 $231 $0
Los Angeles Lakers 24.5 Under 26 $220 $0
Charlotte Hornets 39.5 Over 36 $209 $0
Golden State Warriors 66.5 Over 67 $198 $378
San Antonio Spurs 56.5 Over 61 $187 $357
Milwaukee Bucks 39.5 Under 42 $176 $0
Houston Rockets 41.5 Over 55 $165 $315
Phoenix Suns 26.5 Under 24 $154 $294
Orlando Magic 36.5 Over 29 $143 $0
Washington Wizards 42.5 Under 49 $132 $0
Detroit Pistons 45.5 Under 37 $121 $231
Portland Trailblazers 46.5 Under 41 $110 $210
Los Angeles Clippers 53.5 Under 51 $99 $189
Cleveland Cavaliers 56.5 Over 51 $88 $0
Utah Jazz 47.5 Under 51 $77 $0
Brooklyn Nets 20.5 Under 20 $66 $126
Denver Nuggets 34.5 Under 40 $55 $0
Atlanta Hawks 43.5 Over 43 $44 $0
Oklahoma City Thunder 45.5 Under 47 $33 $0
Miami Heat 36.5 Under 41 $22 $0
Chicago Bulls 38.5 Over 41 $11 $21

The Stupid Lines

Philly: They were awful last year. So awful they got the #1 pick, and then he broke his foot in the preseason and probably won’t play all year.  To be fair, this line came before Simmons got hurt, but I’m not updating it.  To be fair, I’d have said the chance that they improved by 17.5 games even WITH Simmons, on top of Embiid and Dario Saric would have been a pretty bad bet, given the fact that they have basically no NBA-level backcourt at all.

Raps: This is basically the same team they fielded last year.  I’ll bet pretty hard on this team not being seven wins worse.

Pacers: The Pacers did nothing but get better this offseason.  They added Al Jefferson, they swapped out Hill for Teague (an underrated move, in my opinion), Myles Turner is now a year older, and not to mention Paul George is another year removed from his injury.  The only real question here is why they’re not HIGHER on my list, since there’s no way in hell they’re 2 wins worse than last year.

Pelicans: I can’t imagine why the bettors think the Pels are going to be 7 wins better than last year.  Holiday is going to miss a big chunk of the season due to his wife’s brain cancer, and they lost Eric Gordon (for whatever it’s worth a solid NBA player) and replaced him with the Rookie Hield.  Buddy may have a future, but I can’t see him leading the Pelicans to anywhere near .500 this year.

The Iffy Lines

Celtics: I know 52 wins is quite a decent season, but let’s face it.  The Celtics were a rising team last year and they added Al Horford.  I’m pretty sure he’s worth four wins, if they weren’t going to get to that total without him.

Grizz: Memphis was so incredibly injured last year that it’s not funny.  They added Chandler Parsons and they’re bound to be healthier.  The loss of Dave Joerger might turn out to be a big blow, but I’m willing to gamble that they’re going to turn in at least two additional wins over last year’s total.

Mavs:  I know they’re getting older.  I know they lost Parsons.  But Barnes should be a capable replacement, and Bogut is the piece in the middle they’ve been missing.  On top of that, Wes Matthews will be fully healthy.  Maybe I have them a little high, but I’m not willing to bet on the Mavs tanking – this year.

Minny: They’ve got another year of experience, and they added Kris Dunn, but is that enough to bump them a massive 13 games from last season?  I can’t go there.  They’ll be better, but not that much better.

Knicks: The line calls for seven wins on last year.  I’m calling for Derrick Rose to be a disaster, between his destroyed knees and the whole rape charges thing.  Kristaps can’t carry this team on his own, and Carmelo just hasn’t moved the needle for so damn long.

Kings: I have to say, I’ve been guilty of the purple-colored glasses for a long, long time.  Last year I had the Kings as my #1 lock, and while they came through, it wasn’t by much.  That said, the Kings (at least DeMarcus Cousins) basically quit on George Karl before the season started and despite the team just actively not giving a shit, they got 33 wins.  They only have to do that well again this year, and they’ve got a happy Cousins (thanks, Dave Joerger!) and a real NBA shooting guard in Afflalo.  My heart says they should be higher on this list but my head is still a bit gunshy.

Lakers: I know they added #2 pick Brandon Ingram and aging forward Luol Deng, and hey, it’s not like Kobe did anything for them.  But there’s not much optimism in my eyes for this team to be 8 wins better than last year.  Ingram is 30 pounds from making a whit of difference, and they blew a ton of free agent money to have a frontcourt of Timofey Mozgov and Julius Randle.  Yeah, no.

Hornets: You know, I’m not a big believer in the Hornets.  I’m really not.  But they won 48 games last year so they would have to be nine games worse, just for losing Al Jefferson.  Al Jefferson is a nice player, but he’s not a nine-win player.  The Hornets should still break .500.

Warriors: I think it’s pretty crazy to predict a team to get 67 wins, but that’s still 6 wins worse than last year, and they added Kevin Freakin’ Durant.  They won’t miss Barnes, I’ll tell you that.  And shoot, they almost never played Bogut anyway.  The number is scary or I’d have them higher.  Still, I have to take the over.

Spurs: The line basically has the loss of Duncan and one more year of age taking eleven wins off the Spurs’ total.  Duncan wasn’t even a major contributor for the Spurs last year.  He was done.  They’ll still be the #2 team in the West, and they’ll only drop off a bit if anything.

Bucks: I was really, really high on the Bucks last year.  That was really, really not rewarded.  Monroe didn’t integrate, and that’s the biggest thing.  This year, the Bucks are basically the same team, with a presumably fully healthy Jabari Parker, but now a hurt Khris Midldeton out for the year.  I feel like this team underperformed its parts last year, but I’m not convinced that they’ll do much better this year, much less 7 games better.

Rockets: The Rockets appear to have embraced a philosophy this offseason.  Gone is the bricklaying (and overrated) Howard and in are three-point shooters Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon.  The Rockets only need to be one win better this year to make the over – I think they ought to get there.

The Tough Calls

Last year the books were predicting about 10 wins more than were actually available.  This year it’s 16 too many wins.  Again, time to err on the side of the under when there’s no clearly correct choice.

Suns: They really weren’t very good last year, and I don’t think that either of their rookies (Bender, Chriss) is going to be ready to contribute a lot this year.  Booker will be better, and Bledsoe will be healthy – is that worth four wins?  Tough call – as the section label reads.  I’ll say no.

Magic: Orlando swapped out Oladipo for Serge Ibaka.  I don’t know how to read that.  But in general, I think they’re a team on the upswing so I’m going to bet on them going +2 relative to last year.

Wizards:  This is basically the same team from last year, but they need two more wins to get the over.  With Boston and Indiana stealing wins, I think maybe they don’t get there.

Pistons: Just like the Wizards, basically the same team predicted to grab two more wins.  I guess I’ll say “no”.

Blazers: Another team that didn’t change much, this time predicted to go three wins over.  I’ve never really been convinced by this team and its weak frontcourt, so I guess I’ll bet against them improving that much.

Clippers: More same team, same line, except this time they only need one more win to hit the over.  Once again I’m taking the under, because of the overprediction of wins and the spectre of a possible Blake Griffin trade hanging over the franchise.

Cavaliers: Again, same team, same line – this time the Cavs actually can beat the over by getting the exact same record as last year.  I think they’ll do it.  Right?  Sure.

Jazz:  The Jazz are up-and-coming.  They’re adding George Hill and should be getting Dante Exum back.  Gobert and Hood are just getting started.  Hayward and Favors are solid contributors.  But they need 8 extra wins to beat the over, and I don’t think I can quite go there.  6 I’d probably say yes.

Nets:  The Nets are going to be terrible.  But they were terrible last year and managed 21 wins.  Can they match that this year?  I’m saying no, but who knows?

Nuggets: I feel like I’m saying “under” a lot here, but the Nuggets are basically the same team (sorry, Jamal Murray!) and they’re supposed to get two more wins?  Maybe?  Maybe not?  I’ll go with maybe not.  They’re not going to have anything to play for at the end of the season, and Mudiay was so bad last year I can’t see him suddenly helping them much.

The Total Wild Cards

Hawks: What happens when you lose Al Horford and Jeff Teague and add hometown hero Dwight Howard?  I have no freaking idea.  The Hawks need to dump five games this year to miss the over – I don’t think a happy Dwight Howard allows that to happen.

Thunder:  A team loses Durant and Ibaka and basically becomes Russell Westbrook and a bunch of role players.  Do they drop ten games this year?  That’s a lot, but they lost A LOT.  They probably do, but man, who knows?

Heat:  So long Dwyane Wade!  And good health to you, Chris Bosh!  Will the Heat drop 12 games from last year?  Not if new gazillionaire Hassan Whiteside has anything to say about it.  But then again, he’s Hassan Whiteside, for the love of all that’s holy.  He can’t possibly save them.

Bulls:  Talk about turnover…Noah and Rose out, Rondo, Wade, and Lopez in.  And they canlose three games more than last year and still take the over.  I think they get there, but it’s like a hurricane track five days out – where’s it going to make landfall…I HAVE NO FREAKING IDEA.

The Results…

With about 8-9 games left in the season, this isn’t looking so good.  While I’m currently 7-5 on the bets that have “come in”, I think a lot of the open ones are going to fail.  So far I’ve got $2247 coming in, which is not even halfway…

That number is now up to $3129 with most teams having 2 or 3 games left, meaning I would have to come up with just short of $2000 to break even.  There’s actually still $3192 available, which suggests the bookmakers did a pretty good job, with just under a third (9) of the teams still in play with just a few days left in the schedule.  I likely won’t get all of that, but surprisingly, with one win from each of four teams (Warriors, Raptors, Celtics, Grizzlies) I would make a small profit.  The Raptors (they face the Knicks!) and Celtics (they face the Nets!) are both vying for playoff position, and the Warriors play the Lakers, and the Grizz schedule isn’t too tough, so it’s actually in my grasp…but the Grizz failed me.

I only got 14 of 30 right this year – not so good.  That means I would have brought back $4788 total on my $5115 wager.  I can give myself a little bit of solace in that this year (unlike last year) I actually was smarter in my allocation of funds – had I wagered the same on every team instead of basing it by confidence, I’d only have won $4557, so there is that.  I feel like the oddsmakers (or, to the extent that this was driven by the bets, the bettors) did a good job here – half of the lines were within 2.5 wins of the actual total over an 82 game season.