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- 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.
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.