We’re still a few weeks from NBA training camp, and as such, a few weeks from really digging into each team’s season win totals.
But now’s a good time to take a quick look at a few teams, as we’ve seen some interesting market movement from the numbers posted in early August.
All lines courtesy of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.
- Current win total: 59
- Movement: Up from 57.5
This jump reflects the growing sentiment that even with Toronto’s addition of Kawhi Leonard — and even with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward coming off major injuries — the East is still Boston’s to lose.
The Celtics have so many advantages, from star power to depth to system and coaching.
I’ve already made the argument for the over, and I’m sticking with it.
I’m good with betting it up to 61.5, honestly.
- Current win total: 30
- Movement: Up from 27.5
A head-scratcher here. One of the worst teams in the league has taken a significant amount of money on the over at Westgate.
I’m not quite sure what over bettors see with this team.
The Bulls won just 27 games last season, and yet they somehow OVERPERFORMED by six wins based on their Pythagorean win/loss record.
Sure, they added Jabari Parker, whom I still desperately want to believe in, but between his injuries and the bizarre decision by Jason Kidd to try and morph him into a traditional big, expectations should be low.
Wendell Carter Jr. had a phenomenal summer league, but it’s ill-advised to count on him drastically swinging the Bulls’ win total.
While the young firepower of WCJ, Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine gives fans reason for hope, Chicago could very easily trade veteran Robin Lopez for a future asset at the deadline and tank.
- Current win total: 56
- Movement: Up from 54.5
The 54.5 opening line represented a 10.5-win dip from Houston’s 2017-18 tally. It has since corrected a bit, but it’s still much lower than many expected.
Clearly, the losses of Trevor Ariza and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute — along with the questionable additions of Carmelo Anthony and Michael Carter-Williams … and the trade of Ryan Anderson for Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss — are cause for skepticism.
The ongoing continuity and brilliance of the James Harden-Chris Paul-Clint Capela trifecta are what provide a buffer from a drop-off.
This win total, at 56 currently, is a stay-away for me. I’ve still got the Rockets slightly over at 57 wins, but that’s too narrow a margin for comfort.
It should be noted that sources close to the Rockets admitted that much of this roster alteration is built around taking high-variance swings.
They are effectively betting that the their solid foundations offensively (behind Harden and Paul) and defensively (behind Jeff Bzdelik’s system, Capela and P.J. Tucker) allow them to take chances on high-upside options who could potentially help them take down the Warriors.
That may be true, but a side effect of that gambit could be fewer regular-season wins (and alarmingly, losing home-court advantage to the Warriors).
- Current win total: 45
- Movement: Up from 44.5
This slight bump up for the Wolves is surprising, given the tone of their offseason.
They made no tangible improvements, re-signed Derrick Rose and are probably signing at least one of Joakim Noah or Luol Deng, neither of whom have been rotation players the past two seasons.
On top of all that, there’s talk of tension in both the front office and the locker room, and Jimmy Butler is a free agent next summer.
So, yeah, kind of weird that there’s been a push for this team to go higher.
- Current win total: 29
- Movement: Up from 28.5
You know there are going to be a few teams that win fewer than 30 games, and Phoenix, coming off a season with the worst record with no major star additions outside of No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton, is certainly a candidate.
Much like Chicago, Phoenix also outperformed its expected number of wins last season (16) by five full games.
The upside: Igor Kokoskov takes over as coach with a considerable resume, and the roster is full of untapped talent.
Josh Jackson had a very good second half of his rookie season, showcasing nice versatility. Dragan Bender’s advanced stats continue to be nightmarish, but I’ve seen enough flashes on both sides of the ball to not bail quite yet.
Devin Booker, when healthy, remains one of the most dangerous scorers in the league under 25, and Trevor Ariza gives the Suns a veteran who can help guide them.
Still, this is a stay-away for me.
Some teams are going to have to be bad, and Kokoskov trying to implement a new system with a super young team in a brutal division is not a recipe for success.
San Antonio Spurs
- Current win total: 44
- Movement: Up from 43.5
This one has been on a bit of a tear up and down. After opening at 43.5, Westgate took some over money and bumped it up to 44.5. It has since settled at 44.
It’s still difficult to wrap my head around the idea of the Spurs not finding a way muster at least 45 wins, but this roster will be exceptionally challenged to do so.
It lacks shooting, spacing, speed and experience.
The Spurs are are basically banking on midrange jumpers from LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan to propel them to a playoff spot.
Their defense will remain elite, even with DeRozan on board, and they managed to survive the whole year without Kawhi Leonard and still hit above this mark.
But you should only take this one if you want to sweat the season.