Moore: Final NBA Season Win Total Predictions for All 30 Teams

Moore: Final NBA Season Win Total Predictions for All 30 Teams article feature image
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USA Today Sports. Pictured: Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Stephen Curry

  • Matt Moore breaks down his final 2018-19 NBA season win total predictions for every team.
  • He also makes his over/under pick on Vegas win totals. All 30 are ranked in terms of confidence.

The NBA season is finally here. We ranked win total bets for all 30 teams a few weeks ago in terms of confidence, and after seeing the teams in preseason action, I’ve updated those rankings and calculated my own projections.

Remember that the win total I’ve provided is an estimated number and doesn’t have as much bearing on whether I side with the under or the over as where I think the range of outcomes might be.

My projected total might be within one win of a given over/under — or in some instances, right at the Vegas’ number — but ultimately I feel that the range of outcomes skew more heavily above or below that total. In other words: I might think the worst case outcomes are more varied and more likely than the better case scenarios.

Below you’ll find each team’s over/under, how the market has changed since the start of preseason and my projected win total as well as my current confidence level in the corresponding pick.

30. Houston Rockets: Under 56.5

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 56
  • Confidence: 0 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 56 (+0.5)

The Rockets have looked great in preseason. The defense has been good, the offense has been good, it’s all smiles and good times in Houston.

I’ve gone back and forth on this one over the past few weeks. In the end, the nagging problem I have is the retirement of Jeff Bzdelik as defensive coordinator and how casual Carmelo Anthony seems to be with the proposed changes to his game. He just doesn’t seem concerned, which reads to me as thinking status quo holds.

Houston fans have a series of talking points: The Rockets went 14-1 without Trevor Ariza last season. James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela went 54-7.

I get it.

But assuming that same performance when you would not have anticipated it initially is faulty thinking. If the Rockets perform at a similar rate this season? Then absolutely, I will buy it as an immutable law of nature that Houston, with those three healthy, will win at an 89% rate.

I’m not willing to just accept that as fact yet.

Houston-Rockets-2018-19
Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Chris Paul, James Harden

Even with the movement from 56 to 56.5, I can’t find value on either side of it. Or rather, I find too much value on both sides. Read more on the case for both sides and why I can’t suss it out here.

29. Los Angeles Lakers: Under 47.5

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 47
  • Confidence: 1 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 48.5 (-1)

The hype around the Lakers makes it impossible to effectively judge them, even in preseason.

Brandon Ingram makes some jumpers: “Could he be a superstar?” That’s not even to say Ingram could be a superstar. It’s to say that because the Lakers have such a rabid and positive fan base, and that basketball culture as a whole wants the Lakers to be good, that it’s difficult to evaluate them.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve seen some positive things from LA in the preseason. But the Lakers were also dead last in 3-point rate per 100 possessions for a team with spacing concerns. They were 21st in offense and 15th in defense — which, who cares, it’s preseason — but they also didn’t really impress much.

The over/under went down to 47.5, but the same stuff I said in preseason applies. Read more here.

28. Toronto Raptors: Under 55.5

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 53
  • Confidence: 0 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 55.5 (no movement)

This bet requires the most explanation. Throw out all context, all situational interaction, the idea of chemistry and just look at basketball.

This team should win 56 to 60 games. The Raptors are great on both sides of the ball in the regular season. They have star power for the regular season. They have depth for the regular season. They have continuity, spacing, versatility, experience and youth. On paper, this is clearly an over bet.

The only reason I’m on the under is because of the instability stemming from the Kawhi Leonard trade. Leonard walked away from the NBA’s most consistently successful franchise this offseason, burning bridges as he went.

Kyle Lowry saw his best basketball friend traded a week after being told he would not be dealt. Leonard isn’t exactly the friendliest dude. Two superstars who aren’t on the same page is difficult.

There’s absolutely no reason for concern on paper, but I still can’t get behind an investment on the over with too many unknown variables.

If you want to block out the “noise” and go there, I wouldn’t blame you. But I can’t. Read more here.

27. Miami Heat: Under 43.5

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 43
  • Confidence: 1 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 41.5 (+2)

My initial estimation had the Heat in the 30s, which was just dumb. This team wins half of its games.

Miami has a great track record of hitting the over, and its chances of landing Jimmy Butler in a trade are higher than most. Had the line stayed at 41.5, I’d be in over territory and probably moving this up the confidence rankings with Butler in mind.

The problem is that this could go the other way, too.

If the Heat don’t land Butler, they have to start thinking about what to do with impending free agents and bigger contracts on the roster. I think the Southeast Division will be a little tougher than some expect.

This number, despite going up, is still too close to get a bead on either side. Read more here.

26. San Antonio Spurs: Over 43.5

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 46
  • Confidence: 2 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 44.5 (-1)

Injuries. That’s how you drop 20 spots from the previous ranking.

The number always felt a little tight, but I was steadfast in my confidence on account of all the things I know about the Spurs’ identity. But Dejounte Murray was hitting 3s and playing like a Most Improved candidate. His ACL tear is devastating.

No worries, Lonnie Walker can help boost the offense … wait, no, he’s out. OK, but Derrick White has been all the talk of the offseason and could really step up. Nope, out 6-8 weeks.

The basketball gods are angry, my friends, and they’re angry at the Spurs.

I’m staying over because a man has to have principles, but I can no longer boldly charge forward. Read more here.

25. Denver Nuggets: Over 47.5

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 49
  • Confidence: 2 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 47.5 (no movement)

Nothing has really changed in preseason from my initial take a few weeks ago. The Nuggets look good. They still have a penchant for messing around (as they did against the Perth Wildcats). They are still loaded with weapons.

Denver-Nuggets-2018-19
Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Gary Harris, Nikola Jokic

One reason I’m slightly more confident is that when they played the Lakers, it was pretty evident for long stretches that Denver was just outclassing Los Angeles.

It’s preseason, so whatever, but that base level of competence matters for building consistency. Read more here.

24. Los Angeles Clippers: Over 37.5

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 38
  • Confidence: 2 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 36.5 (+1)

The number has gone up, which lowers my confidence.

The Clippers looked fine in preseason, and there’s a lot to like, but they still don’t have a player I would feel comfortable with as being the “best player on an NBA team.”

They have faded from the Butler talks, but that could change at any moment. It’s just hard to find a real reason to feel strongly about either side. Read more here.

23. New Orleans Pelicans: Over 45.5

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 46
  • Confidence: 3 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 46 (-0.5)

I’m now very slightly over after being under when the total was set at 46.

There’s reason to think that the Pelicans — after a good preseason — might be one of the strongest teams in the conference … but this conference is brutal and not everyone can live up to expectations.

Almost everything I said a few weeks ago holds.

22. Washington Wizards: Under 45.5

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 45
  • Confidence: 3 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 44.5 (+1)

Nope, don’t like any of this. The Wizards ran their mouths since the preseason started. They haven’t learned a single lesson about putting the cart before the horse. They will make the playoffs; there’s a reason they’re (-900) there.

However, considering the team’s general frustration with not being better, John Wall’s sketchy knee health and the Dwight Howard problem — that is, Dwight Howard is on this team — the number rising from 44.5 to 45.5 makes me too nervous.

A one-win jump might not seem like a lot, but it chips away at the Wizards’ margin.

The super-high end of the range of outcomes — say, a 50-win season as they start to finally play consistently — seems just as likely as the super-low end of the range — the team falls apart and players hate each other, plus Wall or Bradley Beal is traded. Read more here.

21. Philadelphia 76ers: Under 54

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 53
  • Confidence: 3 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 54.5 (-0.5)

I’ve bumped the 76ers quite a few wins since having them at 50 in my initial estimates. There’s still a scenario in which their internal improvement makes gains on last season’s progress, but expecting linear growth in wins doesn’t seem like a sound strategy.

The Markelle Fultz growth curve will determine a lot of how this goes. Read more here.

20. Utah Jazz: Over 50

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 50
  • Confidence: 3 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 49.5 (+0.5)

No team other than the Lakers is harder for me to figure out than the Jazz.

We know they’ll be good. We have ample evidence, reasoning and metrics to indicate that. If this line were anywhere south of 48, I’d consider it one of the surest plays.

The ceiling is much higher for this team; it wouldn’t shock if Utah won 57-plus. The problem is that we’re basing that on who the Jazz were when they went 29-6 to finish the 2017-18 season.

That’s great, it did wonders for the Jazz and set them up for the second round. But unless you believe the Jazz are going to win 67 games this season, it’s probably not sustainable.

Utah-Jazz-2018-19
Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Donovan Mitchell

They’ve looked stellar in preseason, though, leading the league in net points per 100 possessions. It’s preseason, so whatever, but just the fact that they have looked every bit as good as advertised says something. Read more here.

19. Golden State Warriors: Over 62

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 63
  • Confidence: 4 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 62.5 (-0.5)

Uh-oh. DeMarcus Cousins is ahead of schedule, according to Steve Kerr. The team is talking about how refreshed it is after last season’s slog following the preseason China trip.

There’s a growing sense that this could be the last run for this core, which could push the Warriors to go out with a bang.

Plus, for the first time in three years, they are firmly under the radar entering the season. There are all the signs of Golden State rattling off 20 of its first 22 and everyone being reminded: “Oh, yeah, this team is the Apocalypse Shooty Hoops.”

I flipped them from an under to an over after this preseason. I fear that the Warriors, defending two-time and three-of-the-last-four champions, might be truly back. Read more here.

18. Portland Trail Blazers: Over 41.5

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 42
  • Confidence: 4 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 41.5 (no movement)

The Trail Blazers should be pretty good. They’ll have that burst in January or February. They will not be as good in the playoffs as their record reflects.

They are a worse team than last season’s group, but not enough to think they’ll be .500 or below. Read more here.

17. Indiana Pacers: Under 48

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 48
  • Confidence: 4 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 48 (no movement)

I have the Pacers on the dot on that number, which might indicate they should have gone down in my confidence level — not up — but I’m seeing more pathways to the under than the over right now.

That’s a high number, and 47 to 48 wins would still be a successful season. They won’t sneak up on as many teams this season, and the second season of this kind of usage rate for Victor Oladipo probably brings bumps and bruises.

Tyreke Evans was a good pickup but he does come with some complications in terms of his style. And their younger guys could stall in development.

I don’t love this bet, but I have less hesitation now about their under and no new compelling reasons for what is a really high over. Read more here.

16. Oklahoma City Thunder: Under 48

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 48
  • Confidence: 5 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 50 (-2)

There’s been no update on Russell Westbrook’s status, and the outcomes for players in the season following an arthroscopic procedure on the knee are not good.

Andre Roberson suffered a setback and has no timetable for return. Their wing options remain a mess. Nerlens Noel has looked good in preseason, but OKC seems like it might be a high-performance vehicle that has hiccups with its startup on certain nights.

There’s enough uncertainty at that high of a number to go with the under, which would make this season a blunder for the Thunder. Read more here.

15. Atlanta Hawks: Under 22.5

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 21
  • Confidence: 5 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 24 (-1.5)

Trae Young had a really strong finish to the preseason — not just shooting, but as a playmaker. That, coupled with the line drop, has me wavering a bit. I can be talked into the over much more easily now.

Atlanta-Hawks-2018-19
Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kent Bazemore

John Collins has an injury, though, and that’s probably their second-best player impact-wise. You have to expect a Kent Bazemore trade at some point, too.

I’m still on the under, but I’m much less confident than I was. Read more here.

14. Charlotte Hornets: Over 35.5

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 37
  • Confidence: 6 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 35.5 (no movement)

Preseason isn’t much help, but seeing if the youngsters look like they know what they’re doing yet is beneficial.

Malik Monk and Miles Bridges, in particular, look much better. Monk shot 44% from deep in preseason after shooting just 34% from 3 in his rookie preseason, and Bridges was a mini-monster, filling the stat sheet.

The roster has legit talent all the way through, and we have no reason to think new coach James Borrego will struggle. I’m feeling the Hornets as a playoff sleeper at (+130) to make it. Read more here.

13. Milwaukee Bucks: Over 48.5

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 51
  • Confidence: 6 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 47.5 (+1)

I’m in on the Bucks. The number is the only reason this isn’t one of my top 10 most-confident picks.

I went to Milwaukee and wrote on Giannis and the new system, so you can get the lowdown in those pieces. The Bucks were monsters in the preseason. (I take some of that with a grain of salt because they played the Bulls and the tire-fire Wolves.)

Big things are coming for the Deer.  Read more here.

12. Memphis Grizzlies: Over 33.5

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 40
  • Confidence: 6 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 32.5 (+1)

The number moved up one win, but so did my evaluation of the Grizzlies.

Mike Conley looks healthy. Jaren Jackson Jr. (3J) has looked like an impact player. The vibe is good. Things can go haywire for this team quickly with the dynamic of young and old players, but for now, I’m still buying Grizzlies stock. Read more here.

11. Detroit Pistons: Over 38.5

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 41
  • Confidence: 6 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 38 (+0.5)

I was so bullish on Detroit after seeing the Pistons’ Pythagorean numbers last season, a weaker East, internal improvement, a new coach in Dwane Casey and a low number.

But Reggie Jackson’s injury issues persist, and the Pistons had a pretty miserable preseason.

It’s enough to back me off roaring toward the over. I like it, but I no longer love it. Read more here.

10. Orlando Magic: Under 31

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 22
  • Confidence: 6 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 31 (no movement)

I’m nine wins behind their total, so you can argue I should have this ranked higher. But something has me pumping the brakes a bit.

Orlando-Magic-2018-19
Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Aaron Gordon

The Magic have a really good player in Aaron Gordon, who had injury issues last season. They won 25 in 2017-18, and should have considerable internal improvement. There are a lot of numbers that suggest D.J. Augustin is a more impactful player than he’s given credit for, which could mitigate the real issue in their rotation.

Still, that number’s high enough for a top-10 confidence level for the under. Read more here.

9. Sacramento Kings: Under 26

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 19
  • Confidence: 7 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 25.5 (+0.5)

The Kings moved up mostly on account of my confidence in other teams slipping. Also, though, their preseason was r-o-u-g-h.  Preseason results don’t mean much, but losing to the Jazz by a billion at the half in their last outing was concerning.

At some point you worry about coach Dave Joerger losing the locker room. Plus, Marvin Bagley doesn’t look like an impact rookie.

The number going up by a half-win also helps the case for the under. Read more here.

8. Phoenix Suns: Under 29

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 25
  • Confidence: 7 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 29 (no movement)

If this number were any lower, I’d start seriously thinking about the over.

DeAndre Ayton looked great in preseason, putting up monster numbers. But Devin Booker’s hand injury and a number that requires 30 wins have me staying under. Read more here.

7. Minnesota Timberwolves: Under 41.5

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 37
  • Confidence: 8 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 44.5 (-3)

I mean … you’ve read the news or watched ESPN or checked Twitter at some point in the past week, right? This whole situation is a hazmat zone.

There’s this idea that the Wolves won’t trade Butler and he’ll play, so they’ll be good. But how is that going to work? Trust is a huge part of basketball. Who on the Wolves trusts each other right now?

Butler doesn’t want anything to do with the team and will play so he’s not fined. He wrecked the team’s ability to follow Karl-Anthony Towns as a leader. Andrew Wiggins is Andrew Wiggins.

The entire situation is dysfunctional, and that does not bode well for finding regular-season wins in the toughest division in basketball. Read more here.

6. Brooklyn Nets: Over 32

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 33
  • Confidence: 8 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 32 (no movement)

Little bit of a shake here. The question of “Who can carry them?” has nagged at the back of my brain a bit. Still, I just can’t get past how soundly this team plays, how good its coaches are and how many trade options it’ll have.

Brooklyn’s preseason performance didn’t rattle or reinforce. Read more here.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Over 31

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 38
  • Confidence: 8 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 30.5 (+0.5)

The question ESPN’s Zach Lowe has posed several times of who will create off the dribble is a concern, but I’ve loved how the Cavaliers have looked in preseason.

Jordan Clarkson has impressed the most in training camp. Their offense was absolutely humming with ball movement and energy. Their guys look like they want to prove something, not like they’re coming off a high.

One thing I overlooked when I considered the LeBron letdown effect was that most of the players on the roster weren’t around for the title. This is a team of good young players with an All-Star forward in Kevin Love.

Cleveland-Cavaliers-2018-19
Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kevin Love

Their number remains pitifully low. I still love the over. Read more here.

4. New York Knicks: Under 28

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 21
  • Confidence: 9 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 29 (-1)

I previously had the Knicks with the lowest win total, but they’ll be better than the Kings and Bulls. Still, there’s just nothing you can feel confident about them doing exceptionally well on either end.

Frank Ntilikina still can’t secure a starting spot. How many positions will they have the better player on the floor compared to any team — bench or starters — until Porzingis gets back? Read more here.

3. Dallas Mavericks: Over 35

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 37
  • Confidence: 9 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 34.5 (+0.5)

Luka Doncic has looked tremendous in preseason, the Mavericks kept the older guys home from the China trip and their division softened a bit with the Spurs injuries.

There’s some buzz in Dallas, which makes me feel even better about one of my best bets for the over. Read more here.

2. Boston Celtics: Over 58.5

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 61
  • Confidence: 9 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 59 (+0.5)

The offense was a flaming disaster in preseason. Brad Stevens was pretty upset with how the Celtics played. Gordon Hayward looked rusty. I will admit to wavering a bit on what was my most-confident position a few weeks ago.

However, the NBA season is long, and if the Celtics struggle the first two weeks of the season, they’ll get it corrected. Their slides won’t turn into full-on disasters.

There’s still too much talent and too good of coaching to believe this squad won’t win 60. Read more here.

1. Chicago Bulls: Under 30

  • Moore’s Projected Win Total: 20
  • Confidence: 10 out of 10
  • Previous Vegas Win Total: 30 (no movement)

Whoa, boy. I don’t know how this number didn’t drop by at least one win in preseason.

The Bulls’ best player Lauri Markkanen has an injury and is out several weeks. Jabari Parker was so bad defensively that Bobby Portis replaced him in the preseason starting lineup.

They also looked like one of the worst defensive teams I’ve ever seen. No one seems to have made real strides in the areas they needed to improve, Fred Hoiberg’s seat has to be a little warm and Robin Lopez will undoubtedly get moved at the deadline or bought out after it.

I know better than to overreact to preseason, but even if you ignore every second of preseason action, this truly looks like one of the worst teams in the league. Read more here.

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