2023 NBA Win Totals Betting Guide: Over/Under Picks & Analysis For All 30 Teams

2023 NBA Win Totals Betting Guide: Over/Under Picks & Analysis For All 30 Teams article feature image

The NBA season is here! Every year leading up to the start of the regular season, I go through the painstaking task of analyzing every team's preseason win total and deciding whether it's worth going over, under, or avoiding completely.

I've laid out many of these bets on our Buckets podcast already, but this is your one-stop shop to every single pick. You can find my high-level analysis for all 30 teams broken down by division and a more in-depth thoughts on those teams below.

NBA Win Total Odds & Picks

Click on a division to skip ahead
Atlantic Division
Pacific Division
Central Division
Northwest Division
Southeast Division
Southwest Division

Atlantic Division

Philadelphia 76ers 51.5

It takes a lot to get me to bet on the over for a 50-plus number after research shows they tend to go under.

I’m here.

This is the best roster the Sixers have ever had around Joel Embiid. They used to have issues with not having ball-handlers to create offense. Now they have two in Tyrese Maxey and James Harden. They’ve had seasons with not enough shooting; they have more than enough now. They had issues with not enough perimeter defenders; they’re loaded with them now.

Embiid is the MVP runner-up in the last two seasons and wants that award badly. He won’t pull back. He won’t play 70 games, and he’ll opt to play in the games vs. weaker teams and sit the marquee matchups, but that helps their efforts towards the over.

This is a likely top-10 unit on both sides of the ball, with a lower figure than the Celtics.

Key Trend: The Sixers won 1.6 more games than they should have based on Pythagorean expectations last year. (Point differential as a win percentage.) Teams with a +1.6 differential or more of overperformance that didn’t have a 75th percentile close-game record (the Sixers were 6-6) are 21-10 (67.7%) to the over in the past 10 seasons.

Bottom Line:My actual best bet here is Sixers to win the Atlantic Division at +300 on DraftKings. That’s the best ROI bet on them because they, but I feel comfortable with an over bet here as well. Some books have it at 50.5 if you don't mind the juice.

For more on the 76ers, and all the dangers that come with trusting a Doc Rivers-James Harden-Joel Embiid team, read the full write-up here.

Boston Celtics 53.5

I got this at 55.5 and then bet again at 54.5 after the Udoka scandal broke.

The Celtics got Malcolm Brogdon, who I think is very good, and jumped to become title favorites early in the summer. Preseason title favorites have gone under in seven of the last 10 seasons. The Celtics were eventually bumped out of that favorite spot, but the trend I still think has contextual value.

They’re having the preseason from hell. They lost their coach the week before training camp and every indication is that Udoka will never coach the Celtics (and potentially not in the NBA) again. Robert Williams had knee surgery, and then after surgery, his recovery timeline was backed up to 8-12 weeks. This is all after they lost Danilo Gallinari and traded most of their depth for Brogdon (who has a long and extensive injury history).

Key Trend: There’s every supporting trend to take the under on this team, even before all the offseason stuff. Teams with a win total over 50 tend to go under, and teams with a win total over 54.5 tend to go under even more often. Teams that were top-10 in both offensive and defensive ranking went 17-12 (59%) the following season to the under.

Bottom line: Ultimately, this is a play on the number and I'm taking the under on Boston. This team is still very good and has a reason to band together with a foxhole mentality. We just have too much history that these high numbers wind up being too high a bar to clear.

For more on the Celtics, including how their internal turmoil may actually create value on the over, read the full write-up here.

New York Knicks 38.5

The number is just soft. Does this number basically expect less than two wins of improvement from adding Jalen Brunson and losing really only Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel?

This number also underplays the internal improvement chances for this team. I’m an Obi Toppin believer. Even if he’s only good vs. bench units, those minutes can mitigate problems with the starting unit.

I don’t want to bet it, because I don’t want to tie up money on a Tom Thibodeau team (7-3 to the under in his career) to go over. But this is a very low expectation for a team with talent.

Key Trend: Teams between 30 and 40 but sub-.500 have a higher tendency to go over in the last 10 seasons. Teams with poor offenses also tend to improve year over year, at least in terms of win total. Teams with a bottom-10 offense and a win total between 30 and 40 have gone 14-9 to the over in the past 10 seasons.

Bottom Line: This feels like the market is over-anticipating the Knicks to not be as good as the hype, which ironically puts value on the over. I also said this exact same thing last season — the exact same thing — and they went under. So I’m staying away, but the over has value.

For more on why the Knicks could potentially be a surprise team if things fall right, read the full write-up here.

Brooklyn Nets 50.5

Do not trust this team. They do not deserve your money, either way. It feels like a very galaxy-brain move to buy low on this team, supposedly, but now the number is all the way above 50 — Bet365 has a 51.5 line available.

If you bought the Nets over during the Durant trade saga, congratulations, you have great closing line value. I don’t know if it was a good bet because you bet on an NBA team not caving to a star player for the first time since the mid-2000s, but you’re likely cashing. Now, though? It’s too high.

Key Trend: The Nets are across the key 50-win mark in the market. Teams with a win total of 50 or more are 31-16-1 to the under the last 10 years (64.5%). This number jumping back to 51 wins after Kevin Durant retracted his trade demand, which notably was linked to firing the coach and general manager, is a little absurd.

Bottom Line: Ultimately it doesn’t matter the number. You can’t bet against a team with this much talent, you can’t trust a team built around Kyrie Irving, and you can’t trust a team coached by Steve Nash. KD could reverse his trade demand back into effect at any point. Just stay away.

For a more detailed look at why the Nets are so radioactive, read the full write-up here.

Toronto Raptors 46.5

I lean over here, but it’s an absolute stay away for me. Just don’t bother. This team is my kryptonite in every direction.

But if you want to bet the over, go ahead, they’ve only hit the over in nine of the past 11 seasons — 10 if you count the COVID-shortened 2019-20 season. They went under in the season they spent in Tampa, and their pets’ heads fell off. That’s it.

Key Trend: Teams with a top-10 defense and a win total the following season below 50 have gone 22-14 (61%) to the over in the last 10 seasons.

Bottom Line: The roster shouldn’t be this good, and Nick Nurse’s brilliance is built into the number. It’s over or nothing. For me, it’s nothing, but DraftKings has the lowest number 45.5.

For more on why this team is so confusing to analyze entering this season, read the full write-up here.

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Central Division

Chicago Bulls 41.5

The market did what it does and overreacted to negative momentum. Yes, the Bulls will miss Lonzo Ball. Yes, you can expect some regression from DeMar DeRozan. Yes, the Bulls will likely be a play-in team instead of an outright playoff team.

But at 41.5, this is a number that suggests that not only will the Bulls not be as good, but they’ll be closer to bad. Bear in mind that there are books that have the Knicks at 39.5. A two-win differential between the Knicks and Bulls is just not accurate of their relative rosters. This number dipped to 39.5 after opening, and the market accurately rejected that figure, pushing it back to 41.5-42.5 across the board.

Key Trend: Chicago was second league-wide in the difference between their actual wins (46) and their expected wins (40.4) at 5.6. Teams at the 80th percentile (+1.6) in expected win over-performance (won more games than they should) have gone 12-9-1 (55%) to the over.

Bottom Line: The reality is that Chicago has three top-50 players, and their roster is stout in terms of depth. Ayo Dosunmu may make a leap, Coby White may eventually figure it out, and Patrick Williams may be more impactful off the bench. There’s good value here for the Bulls to be “not bad, a little above average” rather than stuck in true mediocrity.

For more on the Bulls, including why Billy Donovan is an underrated element in their win-total value, read the full write-up here.

Cleveland Cavaliers 47.5

The Cavs had great value at open at 41.5. The jump between where they ended up (42.5-43.5) and the post-Donovan Mitchell trade number is too high to really say this has good value. Mitchell, even in combination with the surrounding talent, just isn’t worth a five-game jump.

Key Trend: Teams that were in the 80th percentile in outperforming their win total are 24-20-1 to the under the next season over the last 10 years. That’s 53% which isn’t anything to write home about, but it does suggest some measure of regression.

Bottom Line: I lean over or nothing here, as the Cavs’ upside is considerable, but at this point, I do think the market has overreacted to the hype.

For more on the Cavs, including just how good they could be this season, read the full write-up here.

Detroit Pistons 29.5

This is a good example of the value of preseason. The hype on Detroit was rising before the preseason arrived. Cade Cunningham with Jaden Ivey and some internal improvement sounds promising. But the preseason has shown how bad that offense truly is.

Detroit’s got too much momentum, and the market agrees, pushing their win total up to 29.5 after opening at 26.5 at one book and 28.5 at others. They’re a popular pick for a reason.

Key Trend: Teams that won 24 or fewer games the prior season with a total that's seven wins or more higher than their actual win count the year before and with a win total below 41 (sub-.500) are 10-4 to the over the last 10 years.

Bottom Line: By the end of the year, they might pull themselves out of it and look halfway decent, but you could be scraping for six wins over the last 25-ish games with this number. I'm leaning under on this team.

For more on the Pistons, including how they might make a leap, read the full write-up here.

Milwaukee Bucks 51.5

The Bucks are a regular-season wins machine, but the number accounts for that. If the Bucks want to push for this, they can absolutely cruise over this number. But do they have the initiative to pursue it?

You only want to take 50-plus win total overs on teams that have something to prove or are setting up for a monster year. The Bucks have done that in the past and now have to prioritize health over everything.

Khris Middleton’s offseason wrist surgery is another reason to avoid it, as well as the Bucks going to Abu Dhabi for preseason. (Teams that travel overseas for preseason have their training camps interrupted, and that often results in unders.) But this team is still stacked with arguably the best player in the league.

Key Trend: We’ve learned through our win totals research that 50 wins is a key number. Teams with a win total above 50 are 31-16-1 to the under overall at 64.5% over the last ten seasons.

Bottom Line: Why bother with it? This is a team that has nothing to prove and everything to gain by resting but could still do that and go over. I'm staying away from the total. The Bucks are a solid title bet, and if you want to bet the under on their conference seeding at 3.5 (-120) that feels like a better bet.

For more on the Bucks and their history of dominating the regular-season formula for a good record, read the full write-up here.

Indiana Pacers 23.5

The number is low, and the team may be good enough offensively to get there alone, but the defense is terrible, and the lingering carrot of pursuing losses to draft Victor Wembanyama is too much to make betting on this much fun.

Key trend: In the last 10 years, teams who won 27 games or fewer and then had a win total of 27 or fewer the following season are 11-6 to the over (65%).

Bottom Line: If you’re that good in one area of the game, you’re likely to go over vs. a low number. The Pacers may wind up punting on the season, though, and that simply puts this into the territory of not being worth a bet.

For more on the Pacers, including how great the offense could be (and how bad the defense should be), read the full write-up here.

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Southeast Division

Orlando Magic 26.5

The Magic have some sneaky talent, and I believe in Paolo Banchero as an offensive engine. Banchero showed a lot of on-ball work in summer league, and that’s what they need.

If Banchero and improvement from Franz Wagner (who was sensational in EuroBasket) are enough to drag them to an offense ranked between 20th and 23rd, and the defense holds up as a sub-20th ranked unit, that’s honestly enough to get me on board.

Key Trend: Teams that finished bottom-five in Offensive Rating the previous season are 22-18 to the over in the last nine years (55%) not counting the COVID-interrupted season.

Bottom Line: I don’t think the ceiling for the team provides a lot of separation; this shouldn’t be a high-unit play. But I believe in structural defense, I believe in Wagner being undervalued in the market, I believe Banchero’s going to have the most impact of any rookie, and I believe that when Fultz returns from a less severe injury, the back half of the schedule sets them up to go over and push for momentum into next season.

Best Bet: I like the Magic to go over here. Depending on the book, you'll find a line of 26.5 (juiced) or 27.5.

For more on the Magic, including the reasons to fade the whippersnappers, read our full write-up here.

Atlanta Hawks 45.5

The Dejounte Murray addition likely helps, even if they lost some depth. I have concerns about their shooting, as they lost a lot of key members that added to their spacing from the last few seasons. But a Murray—Trae Young—Deandre Hunter/Bogdan Bogdanovic—John Collins—Clint Capela/Onyeka Okongwu lineup is enough to look like a 48-win team or higher.

Key Trend: Teams with a preseason total that is two or more wins higher than their actual win total the previous season but below 50 are 42-37 to the over for 53%.

Bottom Line:There’s better value on the division at a plus number, but if you’re looking to bet Atlanta, you should definitely lean to the over, with their ceiling likely in the low 50s. I just can’t get to a spot where I trust them enough to bet.

For more on the Hawks, including some surprising trends that suggest the under is also in play, read our full write-up here.

Washington Wizards 35.5

It feels like Washington’s floor is pretty high with the number of veterans and the level of talent they have. The Wizards had a great start last year, got rattled by the COVID woes everyone went through in December, and then fell apart.

Teams need a few things to go their way throughout the course of a season; Kristaps Porzingis and Bradley Beal staying healthy for at least 40-50 games is the most dubious. They also need one of their young guys to make a leap (Corey Kispert or Rui Hachimura seem the most likely candidates).

Key Trends: Teams that missed the playoffs with a Pythagorean expected win differential of 3.5 or more are 7-2 to the over in the last 10 years.

Bottom Line: The Wizards have complimentary pieces around a signature star in Beal and have a low figure for a team with experience. I lean over on them and wouldn’t be surprised to see them at 40-43 wins in the play-in, but Beal and Porzingis without a third component is just too worrisome to be confident.

For more on the Wizards, including some trends that suggest they’re undervalued, read our full write-up here.

Charlotte Hornets 36.5

I whiffed on the under on this team big-time last season and I’m still not sure the cap was wrong. The Miles Bridges situation doesn’t seem close to resolution; without him, the starting unit takes a big step backward.

Gordon Hayward has injury concerns, and they haven’t been able to find a trade destination for him despite a desire to move him. There’s no young talent to cause excitement or upside.

Key Trend: Clifford takes over as a coach and is 2-0 to the over in his first season with a franchise in Charlotte the first time around and Orlando.

Bottom Line: I’m staying away in case I’m wrong about them again, but there are a lot of reasons to believe this team spirals to the bottom this season.

For more on the Hornets, including where Clifford can impact this young team most, read the full write-up here.

Miami Heat 48.5

Miami has a lot of downward momentum coming off the Eastern Conference Finals run. The Heat lost PJ Tucker, have no power forward, and the candidates for breakout player are few and far between.

Their institutional infrastructure is so strong, though. This team found ways to win with a huge number of injuries and absences last season. Betting against Spoelstra to hit 50 wins with a contender team is perilous.

Key Trend: Teams that won over 50 games the previous season with a win total of 49.5 or higher have gone 20-14 to the under (59%) in the last 10 seasons.

Bottom Line: Can they score enough? Will a two-big look work? I have a lot of questions and not enough answers to bet either way. I'm going to stay away on this bet.

For more on Miami, including a trend that shows how important the 50-win mark is, read our full write-up here.

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Pacific Division

Sacramento Kings 33.5

We have three teams in the Pacific division with a win total over 50 and all these great stars, but my best bet is on the Kings.

The Kings want to win. That goes such a long way in the regular season. Just a high-effort performance will get you there. They also have viable NBA starters and guys just below the star level with De’Aaron Fox, Keegan Murray, Domantas Sabonis, and maybe Davion Mitchell.

They added shooting with Malik Monk and Kevin Huerter, they brought in a professional, defense-first coach in Mike Brown.

Key Trend: The Kings were 3.4 wins better than they should have been by Pythagorean expectation. Teams with at least a +3.5 win differential in their actual from their expected mark, with a win total less than 50, are 10-6 to the over (62.5%).

Bottom Line: This team absolute reeks of 41 wins and a play-in spot, probably resulting in a painful, heartbreaking loss to extend the playoff drought. Low number, the trends support it. Let’s ride with the royalty.

For more on the Kings and my attempt to get past the pain of actually betting on good things for Sacramento, read the full write-up here.

Golden State Warriors 53.5

Even before the Draymond Green-Jordan Poole saga, there was value on this under.

The Warriors have the least motivation of any good team in the league. They have nothing to prove. The charm of going for a repeat isn’t new to them, they’ve already done it. They’re going for their fifth ring, what do they care about a January game vs. some Eastern Conference under .500 team?

They lost key bench players in Otto Porter and Gary Payton II. They have young players who can grow into key roles, but that comes with growing pains.

Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Green are all over 30 and have heavy miles. Green missed months last season, Curry missed time and Thompson is still coming back from two traumatic injuries. They don’t have reason to push themselves hard enough to risk more injuries. They know they’ll be there when April comes around.

Key Trend: Teams that go to Asia for preseason are 16-8 to the under since 2013. If that sounds random, the Warriors have spoken before about how it messes up their training camp schedule.

Bottom Line: They don’t need 53 wins to get the No. 5 seed. They don’t need home court to win the title. And then you have all the Draymond stuff and the uncertainty with several players working for extensions.

This number is for teams that want to put up a great record. The Warriors have no reason to pursue that. Trust the championship hangover factor.

For more on the Warriors, including a bizarre preseason trend that impacts team win totals, read the full write-up here.

Los Angeles Clippers 51.5

This is a best-bet, but I don’t like it as much as the two above. It’s a high number, those teams don’t usually go over. But this is the deepest team in the league.

When know the key question surrounding this team: How many games will Kawhi Leonard play? I have a contrarian take: It honestly doesn’t matter as long as it’s over 40. If you get him for a half-season, that’s honestly enough.

The Clippers’ win probability doesn’t go to zero without Leonard. It didn’t go to zero last year when he missed the whole season, it didn’t go to zero when Paul George went down for months at the same time.

In the meantime, they have multiple ball-handlers, tons of shooters, multiple looks they can throw at teams, a hyper-efficient style, a top-five coach in Tyronn Lue, and two superstars.

Key Trend: The trends suggest caution, like the fact that teams that won fewer than 45 games with a win total over 50 are 6-0 to the under in the last 10 years. But this is a different situation with the injuries. It’s a one-of-one condition, and I trust the Clippers to be able to get to 53 wins.

Bottom Line: If Kawhi and PG play 70 games, this is an absolute coast over. They probably go over if they play 50 games each but not the same 50 games.

If it’s 40? I still think they can get there. That’s how much I believe that the regular season is about how you manage your effort and schedule and not about how good you are.

In this division, you have to have one team among the Suns, Warriors, and Clippers you buy. I’m buying the Clippers.

For more on the Clippers, including why their depth matters so much in the regular season, read the full write-up here.

Los Angeles Lakers 44.5

If Davis and James play 60 games, then this is an over. They win 70% of their games when those two are together.

The Russell Westbrook thing just hangs in the air like a foul smell. Maybe Darvin Ham figures out a solution, and maybe Westbrook’s work on his 3-point shot makes a difference. Maybe they pull off a trade that makes this number completely outdated instantly.

But on the other side, the rest of the roster is all upside with nothing reliable. They have to hope some of their moonshots (Kendrick Nunn, Lonnie Walker, Austin Reeves) land and the top guys stay healthy.

Key Trend: Teams that had between 30 and 40 wins in a season with a win total the following year between 40 and 50 (a key number) in the last 10 years are 12-8 to the over (60%). To make that make sense if you’re bad but not awful, and the market expects you to be good but not great, you tend to go over.

Bottom Line: Too much volatility, and too much uncertainty. If the Lakers make a big trade, there will still be time to get good value on their playoff futures. If they don’t, you can bet against them night by night. Not excited to bet this, gonna stay away. I lean under, but I don’t want to bet against James.

For more on the Lakers, including all the different deviations of the Westbrook experiment’s eventual conclusion, read the full write-up here.

Phoenix Suns 52.5

Phoenix has a lot of bad vibes.

The Deandre Ayton situation seems uncomfortable for everyone involved.

Jae Crowder is away from the team awaiting a trade, and there’s no telling what they get back. He was a big deal for them on both sides of the ball, hitting big-time shots and playing physical defense.

The bench seems really bad in preseason. There were cracks in it last year that seems to be spreading.

Then again, this is a core that has absolutely torn up the league for years. The consistency and reliability of Chris Paul in pick and roll with Devin Booker doing work and Mikal Bridges’ defense is sound. Ayton seems miserable, but he is still one of the seven best centers in the league.

Key Trend: Teams that won 60 or more are 8-6 to the under the following season in the last 10 seasons. Teams with a win total over 50 have gone 31-16-1 to the under the last ten seasons. If you bump it up to 53.5 wins, the under is 24-10 (70.5%).

Bottom Line: There’s so much uncertainty about the vibes surrounding a really reliable formula at a very high number. Let’s just not mess with it.

For more on what bettors should expect from the Suns, read the full write-up here.

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Northwest Division

Denver Nuggets 50.5

You can pay the juice on a 50.5 or get more aggressive at 52.5. This is one of the most hyped teams entering the season; all the betting conversations are about their upside. That makes me nervous. But this team is loaded.

They have the two-time reigning MVP who almost never misses time with injury (knock on wood) and a returning Jamal Murray to provide a two-man game and take over offensively on nights they don’t have it.

They're also returning a 6-foot-10 shooter with 50-40-90 potential in Michael Porter Jr.  and have Aaron Gordon in a much more suitable role: be the fourth-best player on the floor, play defense, and fill in the gaps.

Add in an improved defensive cast with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Bruce Brown, high-upside young guys in Bones Hyland and Zeke Nnaji, and a coach in Michael Malone whose teams have gone over their win total in literally every season except the 2019-20 COVID-interrupted season.

Key Trend: The Nuggets have won 69% of their games vs. teams that finished the season under .500 under Michael Malone. Teams that win more than 68% of their games vs. teams under .500 have gone 65-29-1 to the over in the last 10 seasons.

Bottom Line: The numbers say that win totals over 50 should always start with an under bet. But there’s just nothing working against this team. I cannot find a data point to suggest an under. It’s a best bet, 5u max play on the over, and I’ve played alt lines and best record props as well.

For more on the Nuggets, including more reasons for the over and a very forced look at the value on the under, read the full write-up here.

Portland Trail Blazers 39.5

The Blazers were the worst team in the league over the back half of the season, purposefully. That destroyed all their numbers and forced over-adjustments in the market.

You cannot put them close to the team they were the year prior when they made the playoffs. You also cannot put them close to the team they were to finish the season with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum out for basically the whole year due to injury or trade, in McCollum’s case, Norm Powell and Robert Covington were traded, and a team purposefully set to lose.

This number is basically in the middle of last season’s win total of 44.5 and their actual wins of 27 differential with a slight lean to the over.  I think the weight should be closer to 44.5, so I like an over.

Key Trend: Teams with a Pythagorean expected wins differential from actual wins (so how many were they supposed to win minus how many they actually did) of 1.6 (70th percentile last 10 seasons) or more have gone 29-24-1 (53.7%) to the over.

That’s a lot of jargon; here’s the simplification: the market puts the number for a team closer to what they "should” have won than what they did, and that means an overreaction. Now, the Blazers were so blatant in their tank and so truly horrific that those numbers are a little exaggerated. But the result is the same.

Bottom Line: Damian Lillard is back and healthy. He and Jusuf Nurkic usually win a lot of games while giving up a lot of points. Anthony Simons is a scoring machine. Jerami Grant is a wing upgrade on both ends of the floor. Josh Hart, who was held out late-season, is underrated as a defender and spot-up weapon. The bench has promising pieces.

This won’t be a great team, but Dame’s good enough with a competent roster to get them to .500 or better. This is a three-unit play for me on the over.

For more on Portland, including whether their defense can be trusted enough to make a bet, read the full write-up here.

Minnesota Timberwolves 47.5

I can’t bet every good West team to go over and hit 50 wins. The Wolves have to integrate a lot of new pieces with questionable depth and high pressure. Karl-Anthony Towns was hospitalized with illness before the season.

But this team has so many weapons. Rudy Gobert is a one-man top-five defense if he’s healthy. KAT should not call himself the greatest big-man shooter of all time when Dirk Nowitzki exists, but he’s got the spot as No. 2. D’Angelo Russell will benefit most from Gobert on both ends, and Anthony Edwards is primed for a breakout.

Key Trend: Teams that have won between 45 and 50 games and then had a win total of 49.5 or more the following season are 10-4-1 to the under in the past 10 seasons.

Bottom Line: If this were a little lower, I’d be all in, but it can’t be with Gobert. If it were above 50, I’d be looking at an under, but it can’t be because of the West’s strength. If you’re not sold on Denver, play the Wolves for the division, or take the seeding under 5.5 (+100) at DraftKings.

For more on the Wolves, including how I think the Gobert addition works out, read the full write-up here.

Oklahoma City Thunder 23.5

Utah Jazz 23.5

NOPE, NOPE, NOPE. Too much talent and too good of coaching, too much intent to position for the draft. They’re too good for an over, too bad for over, and the number is in what I would call a DMZ of win totals, right between 23 and 24.

For more on OKC and why they are way better in potential (but maybe not actuality) than you think, read the full write-up here.

For more on the Jazz and why it’s going to be hard for them to tank with this trade market, read the full write-up here.

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Southwest Division

New Orleans Pelicans 44.5

Zion Williamson is back, the floor is a .500 team and Willie Green is a plus-EV coach. Williamson was one of the most efficient and offensively impactful players in NBA history in 2021, and he’s back to a team that made the playoffs last season.

After their 1-12 start, the Pelicans went .500 the rest of the way and .500 after adding CJ McCollum with injuries in there to McCollum, Jonas Valanciunas and Brandon Ingram. So a pre-Zion floor is still .500. Their young talent is superb with defensive wunderkind Herb Jones, shooter Trey Murphy, and rookie Dyson Daniels.

Key Trend: Teams that finished under .500 and have a win total listed above .500 the following season have gone 14-9 to the over (61%) in the last 10 years.

Bottom Line: The Pelicans finished just below .500 last year without Williamson. You have to establish how many wins you think Williamson is worth to the total and how many you think you’ll play. However, most of the research suggests the floor for this team without Williamson is .500, meaning that you just need an impact of four wins from Williamson even in a low-performance outcome to hit the over. The range of outcomes skews heavily towards the over.

Best Bet: I like their division odds (+400 or better) more, but over 44.5 is a 2-unit play for me. You can also find 43.5 depending on the book.

For more on the Pelicans, including the case for the over and the under, read our full write-up here.

Memphis Grizzlies 49.5

The Grizzlies got worse, the Western Conference got better, and the line is too high. Jaren Jackson Jr. is out for some duration of time between October and January; conditioning and the like could mean he's out until later in that frame.

The Grizzlies lost Kyle Anderson and De’Anthony Melton over the summer and their replacement options are young and unproven. The West will see the healthy returns of Kawhi Leonard, Jamal Murray, Anthony Davis, and Williamson.

Key Trends: Teams that win 55 games or more have gone 17-12 (58.6%) to the under the following season over the past 10 years. Teams that win 55 games vs. a win total below 50 the prior season have gone 7-4 to the under in the last 10 years.

Bottom Line: Memphis is due for regression after having a special season where everything went right. They profile as the exact type of team that struggles being the hunted instead of the hunter, especially with a slightly worse roster. Even with head coach Taylor Jenkins and Desmond Bane being incredibly valuable to the over, Memphis may very well not win the division this season with a sub-48 win total.

Best Bet: Bet the under (I took this at 51.5, but like it at 49.5 or better)

For more on the Grizzlies, including the case for the over and the under, read our full write-up here.

Dallas Mavericks 48.5

The Market over-estimates the impact of Jalen Brunson’s departure and Luka Doncic is in top shape for an all-time season. Doncic played in EuroBasket in September, meaning he’s in the best shape he’s ever been in to start an NBA season.

Tim Hardaway Jr. returns, and the additions of Christian Wood and JaVale McGee give Doncic better weapons to provide rim gravity and open up things on the perimeter. The Mavericks’ defense was aggressive at the edge last season but not in a blitzing scheme that’s easily solved.

With better rim protection this season, and the return of all key perimeter defenders, there’s no real reason to think Dallas’ defense regresses in a significant way.

Key Trends: Teams with a win total that dropped by four or more wins from the previous season have gone under in 35 of 60 (58%) the last 10 seasons. Dallas had a +1.5 difference in their actual wins vs. their pythagorean expected wins (based on point differential vs. strength of schedule). Teams with a +1.5 differential or better in actual wins vs. pythagorean expectations have gone over 52% of the time in the last 10 years.

Bottom Line: I'm leaning toward the over. I’m expecting a career (and potentially all-time) season from Doncic based on usage and efficiency combined with him being in shape. That, paired with the existing infrastructure makes me lean over, but the number is high enough to keep me away. I do think there’s slight value on the Mavericks to win the division at a plus number.

For more on the Mavericks, including the case for the over and the under, read our full write-up here.

San Antonio Spurs 23.5

The Spurs have some sneaky talent that, with Gregg Popovich potentially coaching in his last season, should be good vs. market expectations. But the looming importance of tanking to secure a top-3 pick remains too much of a concern for the over.

Tre Jones stands out upon review as he was one of the most efficient pick-and-roll scorers in the league last season with an outstanding floater. He's a name that won't register at all in most evaluations, but he can legitimately help the Spurs.

If the Spurs are any good, at all, Keldon Johnson should be in line for some Most Improved Player buzz. His shooting efficiency across the board was impressive and he’ll have more usage this season.

San Antonio is widely expected to look to move veterans like Jakob Poeltl and Josh Richardson to teams looking for help, leaving the Spurs less talented and experienced as they pursue an opportunity to draft Victor Wembanyama or Scoot Henderson next summer.

Key Trends: Teams with a total listed 25 wins or fewer have gone over slightly more often (55%) in the last 10 years. Teams with a win total that has dropped by more than 10 from the previous season (34 wins for San Antonio last season vs. a 23.5 line) have gone 16-9 to the under (64%), indicating the market is able to accurately assess when a team is aggressively headed in the other direction from being competitive.

Bottom Line: Stay away. The number is simply too low to confidently bet the under. How many wins do they need for an equal shot at the No. 1 pick? The bottom three teams all have a 14% chance at the top spot. Does 25 wins get them there? Do they need to be in the teens?

The last time the Spurs tried to tank, back in 1997 to get Tim Duncan, they won 20 games. The margin is just too slim to bet the under, and there’s no justification for betting the over on a team that has actively declared through trade it does not have intentions to win.

For more on the Spurs, including the case for the over and the under, read our full write-up here.

Houston Rockets 23.5

Houston is a promising team with bad infrastructure and a really low line.

Houston's talent is promising with two top-three picks in Jalen Green and Jabari Smith, and good young talent like Alperen Sengun and Usman Garuba. Coaching is a huge question mark as the Houston offense as one of the most undisciplined and least prepared last season.

It’s assumed Houston will try and win, especially given Silas’ precarious position, but ultimately if they are still on pace for sub-30 by midseason they will likely actively pivot to a tank again.

Surprisingly, I have more optimism about their defense than their offense, with Sengun showing good rim protection instincts and flexibility in scheme, but the bar is still very low.

Key Trends: Teams with a win total of 25 or lower have gone over slightly more often (55%) in the last 10 years. Teams with a bottom-5 offensive and defensive rank (via Cleaning The Glass) have gone 10-5 to the over (67%) in the last 10 years.

Bottom Line: Stay away. The opening line of 27.5 was soft to the under, but that was pretty much immediately bet off the board. The new high point of 23.5 isn’t enough to get me invested on an under, though I’d lean that way. I can make a pretty strong argument for both the under and the over.

One thing to consider: if the Rockets do not start off well and Silas is relieved before the end of the season, it’s possible an interim coach might take them over. I just can’t find value here.

For more on the Rockets, including the case for the over and the under, read our full write-up here.

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Sean Treppedi
Jul 17, 2024 UTC