NBA Expert Picks: Our Staff’s 6 Favorite Win Total Bets Before Free Agency
Photo credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jrue Holiday
- Sportsbooks posted next-season NBA win totals early this year ... before the free agency bonanza even begins.
- Our staff dives into the odds and gives their six favorite win total bets ahead of July's movement.
The NBA free agency craziness isn’t here yet (at least fully), but sportsbooks have already released 2019-20 NBA win totals. There’s obviously a lot of uncertainty, but that could also lead to betting value.
Ahead of next week’s movement, which win totals are currently the most enticing? Our staff has six to check out.
Matt Moore: San Antonio Spurs over 44.5 wins
The Spurs hit the over last season despite a mid-40s number. They get Dejounte Murray back and another year for Derrick White and their other young players.
The Spurs’ floor is 45 wins, barring major injury. If they were to trade DeMar DeRozan or LaMarcus Aldridge for a competent 3-point threat as primary ball-handler, their ceiling goes way up as well.
The Spurs won 48 last year, going 26-15 vs. teams under .500 — their tried-and-true model. There’s no reason to think that they’ll take a step back in free agency, and they may find some better rotation players.
This number fails to recognize 1) the organizational stability of the team, 2) how good Dejounte Murray is and how important he is for adding spacing to the team, and 3) how the Spurs consistently game the regular-season schedule to produce wins.
Wob: New Orleans Pelicans under 35.5 wins
Let’s get this out of the way first: The amount of assets the Pelicans received for Anthony Davis is nothing short of historic. Only the infamous Brooklyn Nets/Boston Celtics blockbuster stands in the Pelicans’ way of the gold medal. They got back such a great haul that they don’t even need to re-build; they’re simply going to reload.
But the last time I checked, cap space and future first-round draft picks do not help you on the court and win you games. Just ask Danny Ainge. With a pre-free agency projected lineup of Jrue Holiday, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson and E’Twaun Moore, we could witness one of the worst jump-shooting teams of all-time.
Did we just forget that the only way Zion can make a 3 is if he dunks it? Somebody please tell me how this team plans on scoring points other than dope NBA Jam lobs and Jrue Holiday cookies.
They will surely round out the roster as soon as free agency approaches, but if this is their core moving forward, I am not expecting much, if anything, from them this season. They will be fun as hell and the No. 1 League Pass team to watch; however, actually winning games is a completely different story.
In today’s NBA, if you don’t have outside shooting, you die, and this Pelicans team’s core is just about as bad as it gets: 36 wins is just way too much for me.
Locky: Golden State Warriors under 47.5 wins
The Western Conference didn’t get worse outside of Golden State.
Utah, Denver, Portland and Oklahoma City are all going to contend again. The Lakers got significantly better. San Antonio is San Antonio. Houston might now keep everyone together, and if so, that could be the best team on paper. If Kawhi Leonard ever signs with the Clippers … yikes. This is the climate in which the undermanned Warriors find themselves, and I for one think this year is going to be a complete throwaway.
The Warriors have a few approaches. They are most likely giving Klay Thompson a lot of money. That seems like a pretty sure thing. If they pay Kevin Durant a lot of money, too — say, on a 1+1 — they are just completely wrecked by the salary cap/luxury tax to add any meaningful pieces to this roster. Even if they don’t sign Durant, they won’t have any cap space to sign a major player (just a couple small pieces who might help).
What that means is that this team is going to consist of an incredibly high-usage Steph Curry, surrounded by Draymond Green and several unproven, less-talented pieces. There is something charming about imagining the stat line Steph can put up in such a system, but honestly, I don’t think we’re going to find this endearing over an 82-game schedule.
This is a team — and by team, I really just mean Curry and Draymond Green at this point — that just put huge miles on its bodies for five straight years. There is a toll that must be paid, and I think injuries and minutes concerns are going to be a big deal either out of the gate, or, at a maximum, after the first month.
The Warriors made a habit of coasting to save their bodies for key moments in the season, especially on defense, and they have nowhere near the talent to take that approach now.
This is sort of like what happened with Kevin Love last year. Everyone went back to “Oh, he’ll just be old Kevin Love again! 25/10 no sweat!” and Love was a different player, having put a ton of miles on his body. He missed games with injury and struggled. He was just older.
On a different scale, that’s what’s going to happen here. Under all the way for me.
Bryan Mears: Denver Nuggets over 49.5, Indiana Pacers over 46.5
I’ll give two for the price of one here because the overs are really similar arguments.
Both of these teams are built around young cores, including Nikola Jokic (24), Jamal Murray (22), Gary Harris (24), Victor Oladipo (27) and Myles Turner (23).
Those guys are all on an upward trajectory toward their primes — not away from them. And these win totals are lower than their numbers last season; I think they can exceed them again.
First the Nuggets: They have a decision to make with Paul Millsap, who has a $30 million team option for this upcoming season. But the rest of the main rotation is all locked in and super young, and the Nuggets should also see some progression on the bench, notably with Monte Morris, who showed last year he can be one of the premier backup PGs in the league.
The Pacers obviously have to deal with the injury to Oladipo, who reportedly might not be back until around December. But they treaded water just fine without him, and their strengths — solid, consistent play plus excellent defense plus good coaching — is a recipe for regular-season success. Adding T.J. Warren to buoy the offense certainly helps, and Turner, a Defensive Player of the Year candidate last season, should continue to anchor that side of the ball.
These are two teams with young players on exciting upward trajectories, and I don’t see a reason outside of injuries or weird free agency moves why they couldn’t reach a similar level as last season, if not exceed it.
Matt LaMarca: Portland Trail Blazers over 44.5 wins
What do the Blazers have to do to get some respect? They’ve averaged 48.7 wins over the past six seasons, including at least 49 in each of the past two. They made it to the Western Conference Finals last year and ranked seventh in the league in Net Rating during the regular season.
The Blazers have the potential to be even better next year. They just shipped Evan Turner off to Atlanta in exchange for Kent Bazemore, and Turner was one of their worst players last year. They had a Net Rating of just +1.0 with Turner on the court last season, compared to +4.7 with him off.
Even if they get nothing from Bazemore, they should be better just for removing Turner’s 22.0 minutes per game from the equation.
They were also able to grab Nassir Little with the 25th pick in the draft, and he has the potential to be a solid contributor as a rookie. He’s a 6-foot-6 wing player with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, so he should be able to provide solid defense at a bare minimum. He also shot 77.0% from the free throw line at UNC, which bodes well for his ability to develop as a shooter in the pros.
The big X-Factor is the health of Jusuf Nurkic, who suffered a compound leg fracture and currently has no timetable for return. That said, Zach Collins took some steps forward during the playoffs, and he should be able to keep the team afloat if Nurkic is forced to miss part of the early season.
Regardless, I think this number is too low for a team that appears to exceed expectations on a yearly basis.