Monday, April 16, 2012

Mad Props! The Maiden Voyage

What if your performance at work was scrutinized similarly to that of a professional athlete? I’m not talking annual, semiannual or ever quarterly assessments, but having your effort, attitude, consistency, (of course) performance, hell, even your body language dissected… not even daily, but in real-time. In granular detail. Publicly. Like, on TV. National TV. Multiple channels. What if an army of finely coiffed talking heads was perpetually lying in wait to scrutinize your every move?

“I’ve been around this game for years and from where I sit, it’s clear that his effort on that last interoffice memo was NOT where it needed to be”…total BrickBreaker immersion in each of the last six staff meetings? You tell me he’s not quitting on his team… another failure to circle back and touch base subsequent to the offsite symposium highlighting the synergistic dovetailing of best practices? Unacceptable!” (I count 9 in that last one. Challenge extended)

Skip Bayless falsifying achievements in his youth at endeavors which you regularly neglect. Colin Cowherd inquiring about the identity and whereabouts of your father. Repeated assertions that you are “more Vince Carter than Kobe Bryant.” It would be awkward.

I shudder at the thought.

With that said, however, I can only imagine that the resulting hypervigilance – born, if not out of a genuine desire to scale the ranks of one’s profession, at least out of a desire to be left the hell alone – has a decidedly positive effect on a person’s “game.” Thus despite multiple half-starts and failures to launch (let’s see, off the top of my head, there are the short-lived “Hardwood Hype’s As Yet Unnamed Links Collection,” later reincarnated as the too-easy-to-neglect weekly “Plays of the Week,” “Lines of the Night” and “What To Watch For”), as part of a longstanding and ongoing effort to address issues relating to consistency, I ambitiously lob another idea at the wall with the Mad Props, a regular look at the day that was and the night that will be in the NBA troposphere. (I'm making this a thing - just watch!)

If you’ve crossed paths at any point with the wellspring of short-form brilliance (I've heard other, less effusive descriptions as well) that is my Twitter feed, you’re likely aware of my undying affection for the sports betting, namely NBA player propositions (props). Being an incorrigible dork, one immersed in the statistics and day-to-day goings-on of the NBA, I view player prop lines the way a trader does a quote on any financial asset. For more than 3 years I have regularly placed these “a la carte” wagers – and actually done so at a moderately profitable clip.

In the coming days, I will kick off a twice weekly column focused on the “prop market” on the website (stay tuned for the details) of a respected member of the sports gaming industry in Las Vegas. As an accompaniment to the column, which will be more concerned with trends and developments than personal results, and in the interest of holding myself accountable for both solid research and fiscal discipline, Mad Props will provide a forum for me to talk out the one or two prop bet(s) (if it's more, I'm doing it wrong) I make on a nightly(ish) basis, while assessing the results and rationale from the evening prior.

Shall we get started?

With many playoff-bound teams' positions already set (if not in stone, at least in hardening glue), in light of the events of Sunday afternoon, it's not unreasonable to expect that some stars, particularly those nursing minor nicks or with a lot of miles on the odometer, will see limited burn. On this, the second in a pair a of back-to-backs, two stars in particular – both playing away from their loyal, gate-revenue-generating home fans – jump out as prime "1 & 3" (1st/3rd quarter only) candidates, and thus less likely than one might expect to rack up big numbers:

LeBron James Under 27½ Points (-115) at New Jersey. (UPDATE: by the time I posted, he'd scored 8 in the first quarter against the Deron-less Nets.) Troubling though the early productivity may seem, he'd need to play all four quarters (yeah right!) at roughly this clip to eclipse this number. The Heat are essentially locked in to the East’s #2 spot, and again it’s the second half of a road back-to-back, on  the heels of LeBron tweaking his ankle yesterday at MSG – after which he was not quite the same. Even if the ankle is fine, with the playoffs approaching, it’s likely that Spo will value rest over a victory over the lottery-bound Nets.


Dirk Nowitzki Under 24 Points (-120) at Utah. A scenario similar to that of LeBron James, sans the fresh injury. Any kind of pre-playoff rejuvination is the most valuable commodity for veteran stars these days. Sure, the Mavs seemingly have a bit to play for yet (1.5 out of #5 spot), but with the teams immediately beneath them in the standings (#7 Nuggets; .5 game behind & #8 Rockets, 1.5 back) squaring off for the second consecutive night, the negative impact of a loss is somewhat mitigated. Plus, a bit of downward mobility might be welcome in Big-D, with the alternative being a first-round matchup against a Laker team that in all likelihood will secure the West's #3 seed and, without Kobe Bryant, just put the finishing touches on a four-game season series sweep of the Mavs.

It’s impossible to say whether this is the one that’s going to stick – and last I checked, Vegas is offering +240 on my reaching the one-month milestone – but I humbly ask that you humor me. Any and all feedback on these posts will be considered, and I iron some wrinkles myself, the flow of the posts will go in the only direction possible from here.

Cool? Thanks! Until tomorrow...

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