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NBA MIDPOINT: Western Conference progress report with over/under win projections

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The all-world tandem of LeBron James and Anthony Davis have the Lakers on pace for 65 wins this season ... roughly 15 fewer than most sportsbooks had predicted back in October.

Now that every NBA club has passed the midseason point of 41 games, this seems like a good time to revisit BATSBY Sports’ over/under predictions for the 2019-20 campaign — exclusively based off Westgate Sportsbook’s win projections from mid-October.

The results of this exercise, as of January 20, reveal a mixed bag of unqualified successes … and horribly wrong estimations.

For today’s piece, let’s focus on the hits, misses and 50/50 propositions within the Western Conference:

SPOT-ON CALLS

LOS ANGELES LAKERS
WESTGATE OVER/UNDER: 49.5

2019-20 PACE: 64.8 victories
BATSBY PRESEASON PICK: OVER

DENVER NUGGETS
WESTGATE OVER/UNDER: 52.5

2019-20 PACE: 57.2 victories
BATSBY PRESEASON PICK: OVER

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES
WESTGATE OVER/UNDER: 26.5

2019-20 PACE: 38.1 victories
BATSBY PRESEASON PICK: OVER

SAN ANTONIO SPURS
WESTGATE OVER/UNDER: 46.5

2019-20 PACE: 37.1 victories
BATSBY PRESEASON PICK: UNDER

NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
WESTGATE OVER/UNDER: 38.5

2019-20 PACE: 31.7 victories
BATSBY PRESEASON PICK: UNDER

HOUSTON ROCKETS
WESTGATE OVER/UNDER: 54.5

2019-20 PACE: 50.7 victories
BATSBY PRESEASON PICK: UNDER

BREAKDOWN

a) We’re happy to be on the right side of this Lakers’ prediction … but we’re not doing hand-stands over the estimate, either.

Why is that?

Last summer, just minutes after Los Angeles executed a blockbuster trade for Anthony Davis (surrendering a flood of quality assets to the Pelicans), I unwisely went on Twitter to declare something in the neighborhood of, ‘The Kings will post a better regular-season record than the Lakers‘ … thinking LeBron James and Davis would purposely miss a lot of games, due to Load Management.

But that hasn’t really been the case. Davis and James (combined 87 games as of Jan. 20) have essentially brought it every night, when healthy, while leading a better-than-expected core of complementary Lakers.

As such, the Lakers boast top-7 rankings for both scoring offense and scoring defense.

b) From 2016-19, the Nuggets had a three-year average of 47 wins.

This tally might have played a small role in the Vegas experts’ conservative prediction of 52.5 victories, even though Denver’s loaded with high-upside talent … along with a de facto flashy rookie in Michael Porter Jr.

It also helps the Nuggets possess the NBA’s No. 3 scoring defense, surrendering barely more than 105 points per game.

c) We’re feeling great about the Grizzlies’ end-of-year prospects, now that Ja Morant (a nightly highlight reel, in the mold of Russell Westbrook from a decade ago) and Jaren Jackson Jr. (averaging 17.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.4 blocks) have been killing it on the court.

Of course, Memphis just put the capper on a glorious seven-game winning streak, which now means one of two things:

**The Grizzlies are either viable contenders for a berth in the Western Conference playoffs (one or two years ahead of schedule) … or the basketball gods will eventually reciprocate with a long losing skid, perhaps after the All-Star break.

d) We’re still prepared to look eminently foolish here, given the Hall of Fame track record of head coach Gregg Popovich, who hasn’t posted less than 40 victories since 1998-99; and for that strike-shortened season, San Antonio produced an elite-level 50-game mark of 37-13 … and ended up as NBA champs!

e) Zion Williamson’s season-long absence has definitely been a short-term hindrance for the Pelicans (17-27 overall), but it could be a long-term boon for the franchise, in terms of securing an elite-level lottery pick in the June draft.

Plus, Williamson will make his NBA debut on Wednesday night, suggesting the Pelicans make a sustained run in the season’s second half.

TOO CLOSE TO CALL

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
WESTGATE OVER/UNDER: 54.5

2019-20 PACE: 57.2 victories
BATSBY PRESEASON PICK: UNDER

UTAH JAZZ
WESTGATE OVER/UNDER: 54.5

2019-20 PACE: 57.2 victories
BATSBY PRESEASON PICK: UNDER

UGLY CALLS

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
WESTGATE OVER/UNDER: 48.5

2019-20 PACE: 18.2 victories
BATSBY PRESEASON PICK: OVER

DALLAS MAVERICKS
WESTGATE OVER/UNDER: 39.5

2019-20 PACE: 52.7 victories
BATSBYPRESEASON PICK: UNDER

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
WESTGATE OVER/UNDER: 45.5

2019-20 PACE: 34.6 victories
BATSBY PRESEASON PICK: OVER

SACRAMENTO KINGS
WESTGATE OVER/UNDER: 37.5

2019-20 PACE: 28.6 victories
BATSBY PRESEASON PICK: OVER

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
WESTGATE OVER/UNDER: 30.5

2019-20 PACE: 46.6 victories
BATSBY PRESEASON PICK: UNDER

PHOENIX SUNS
WESTGATE OVER/UNDER: 29.5

2019-20 PACE: 34.4 victories
BATSBY PRESEASON PICK: UNDER

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES
WESTGATE OVER/UNDER: 34.5

2019-20 PACE: 28.6 victories
BATSBY PRESEASON PICK: OVER

About The Managing Editor

Jay Clemons remains the only sports writer on the planet to capture Cynposis Media’s national award for Sports Blog Of The Year (beating out NBA.com, MLB.com, PGATour.com, The Players’ Tribune in 2015), along with the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s pre-eminent award for Best Writer (2008). Through the years, Mr. Clemons has been a key figure with numerous blue-chip sports/media brands, namely the Detroit Lions, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report and the NBC/Universal family. With Sports Illustrated (2006-11), Clemons served a triple role with SI.com‘s heralded football coverage—editing Peter King’s famed ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ column, penning award-winning pieces for NFL and then writing/narrating scripted videos within the NFL and baseball realms. In 2013, Clemons’ first year with the company, FOX Sports South enjoyed a monumental increase of approximately 34 million Web hits in a 12-month cycle—merely posting 11 million hits the previous year. 

Then, over a two-month span in 2014, FOX Sports South amassed 19.5 million Web hits—a 60-day record for any FOX affiliate. And in 2015, Clemons claimed the aforementioned Cynopsis Media award on FOX Sports’ behalf, the company’s only national writing award during that period. Clemons, a graduate of Michigan State University  and Wayne State University, has been an on-camera Web-TV host for Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports. In 2015, he also became the first-ever sports journalism professor at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta.

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