Grading My 2018 Preseason Picks: Western Conference

Before the season, I stuck my neck out and made 30 predictions for 30 teams, trying to decide whether they would go over or under their Vegas expectations. Of course, there’s plenty of stuff I got right.

But there’s also a lot of stuff I got hilariously wrong, so let’s go through real quick and see how I did, in order of posting date for the previews, and starting with the West (East coming later this morning):

DALLAS MAVERICKS
Over/Under: 35.5
Pick: “Expect about 30 wins.” (Under)
Actual: 24-58

So I overrated them. I did, however, predict Harrison Barnes would suck, and considering he was one of only three players to play at least 2,000 minutes and post a negative VORP (Carmelo Anthony and Andrew Wiggins were the other two), well…I got the first one right.

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES
Over/Under: 37.5
Pick: “45, 15, split the difference, that sounds like 30-52 to me.” (Under)
Actual: 22-60

Another team I didn’t know just how bad they would be, but considering I identified their best-case scenario (everyone stays healthy and they win 45) and their worst-case (“One badly-timed injury and this team couldn’t beat a G-League team”) and split the difference, well, I’m 2-0 against the over/under so far…

NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
Over/Under: 39.5
Pick: I hedged like crazy on this but identified the worst-case as 36-46. “It’s just hard to see a team with Boogie and the Brow sucking for 82 games,” I said.
Actual: 48-34

I’m going to say this was a swing and a miss. Anthony Davis took over and brought this team to another level by himself. They actually weren’t very good when they clogged the lane with a twin-towers look, so my reasoning was off.

But I’m still 2-0 because I punted on making a hard prediction. 2-1 overall.

SAN ANTONIO SPURS
Over/Under: 54.5
Pick: “The 54.5 over/under seems awfully low to me.”
Actual: 47-35

Umm…whoops. Didn’t see the Kawhi injury coming, thought the rest of the team was a lot better than they are, and seemed to suggest that a seventh-place team was the equal of Houston and Golden State.

Totally flubbed this one. 2-1 against the O/U, 2-2 overall.

HOUSTON ROCKETS
Over/Under: 55.5
Pick: “So “conference finals”? Yeah, I’ll say that’s confirmed. These guys are good.” For record, “that’s the stuff that 60-win teams are made of.” (Over)
Actual: 65-17, almost assured a spot in the conference finals. This was not a hard pick.

3-1 O/U, 3-2 overall.

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
Over/Under: 51.5
Pick: “And last I checked, 50 wins is good. Confirmed.” (Under)
Actual: 48-34, one win better than last year.

So I was technically correct, which is the best kind of correct. I wasn’t sold on Paul George in an OKC uniform, wrote the piece before the Carmelo acquisition, and got close to the win total without going over the O/U.

4-1 O/U, 4-2 overall.

UTAH JAZZ
Over/Under: 38.5
Pick: “Are the Jazz any good? Ehhhh…no. They’re not. They’re going to post a losing record, miss the playoffs, and if Gobert gets hurt, they’ll be lucky to win 30 games, never mind 40.”
Actual: 48-34, but to be fair, this looked like a smarter pick before Donovan Mitchell came out of nowhere in January. They were 19-28 at one point, after all…but I was still wrong.

4-2 O/U, 4-3 overall.

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
Over/Under: 42.5
Pick: I’m predicting 47-35 and a playoff appearance.
Actual: 49-33 and a playoff appearance. Close enough for government work. Nailed it.

5-2 O/U, 5-3 overall.

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES
Over/Under: 48.5
Pick: “They just don’t strike me as better than a .500 club. And .500 won’t win you that over/under bet unless you bang the under hard.”
Actual: 47-35, sneaking into the playoffs as the 8 seed. Better than “,500”, but I got the over/under right. And that’s a “pay the winner.”

6-2 O/U, 6-3 overall.

DENVER NUGGETS
Over/Under: 45.5
Pick: “I’m calling this one Busted. I think Denver becomes the most disappointing team in the league and Malone gets fired mid-season.”
Actual: 46-36, Malone still has his job, and while 9th place was disappointing, they fought like crazy and hit the over. While I didn’t pick a number, I was still wrong.

6-2 O/U, 6-4 overall.

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
Over/Under: 67.5
Pick: I just said they were good. I didn’t predict a record. And considering they were the 2 seed, winning 58 games, they were good.
Actual: 58-24

Considering I totally punted on this one and the team played the Santa Cruz Warriors down the stretch with their seed locked in, yes, they were good, no, they didn’t hit 67.5 wins, and any fool could’ve made the pick that they were good. This is a neutral result.

6-2 O/U, 6-4-1 overall.

PHOENIX SUNS
Over/Under: 28.5
Pick: “They’re not winning more than 25 games. 28.5 is wildly optimistic for this garbage squad. Busted, busted, busted!”
Actual: 21-61, worst record in the league.

Ding!

7-2 O/U, 7-4-1 overall.

SACRAMENTO KINGS
Over/Under: 28.5
Pick: “This could be a team clinging to playoff hopes as late as March if not into April if the bottom half of the West stinks out the joint while the likes of the Warriors, Spurs, and Rockets hog all the wins at the top.”
Actual: 27-55, and the season was over by Martin Luther King Day.

Whoops.

7-3 O/U, 7-5-1 overall

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
Over/Under: 44.5
Pick: “It’s Plausible…but count me among those who think it’s all going to go to hell and they’ll go 35-47.”
Actual: It all went to hell, but they did go 42-40. At least I got the over/under right, and considering they finished 10th, I think I had the spirit of it right.

8-3 O/U, 8-5-1 overall.

LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Over/Under: 33
Pick: “I’m seeing 30-52 and an easy under bet. This one’s Busted.”
Actual: 35-47

Close. But wrong. I was right in saying Lonzo Ball sucks…

8-4 O/U, 8-6-1 overall.

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