NBA Win Total Odds & Pick: How Low Can the Spurs Go?
Ronald Cortes/Getty Images. Pictured: Tre Jones #33 of the San Antonio Spurs.
San Antonio Spurs Win Total Odds
The Case for the Over
- Pop Gonna Pop
- Lowest Total
Of this I am certain, the San Antonio Spurs will play beyond their talent. The impact of a coach like Gregg Popovich is that they will be prepared, and disciplined, and play with structure. They won’t just roll the ball out there and see what happens. Popovich is still Popovich.
I bet the under on the Spurs last season based primarily on one factor: Their highest-paid player, Dejounte Murray, made just $15.4 million. Just simply not having the top-end talent to me said that they would likely go under their 28.5 mark. Nope, Spurs cruised to 34 wins and genuinely tried to make the playoffs.
San Antonio went 21-12 against teams below .500. The Spurs have gone 60% or better vs. teams below .500 in each of the past nine seasons. Teams that go over 70% vs. bad teams as they did last year go over on their win total 71% of the time.
Performance vs. those bad teams is not predictive. Teams that were 70% or better vs. teams under .500 (75th percentile) have basically gone even the next season (51% to the under). However, the Spurs historically beat bad teams and teams that beat bad teams tend to go over.
This is also a super-low total. Teams with a 22.5 win total or lower are 5-4 to the over in the last 10 years. No, that’s not anything meaningful, but the point moreover is that teams with this low of a total do not cruise under despite tank objectives.
Look at the teams they’ll be competing against for for a top pick with flattened lottery odds. The Pacers have Tyrese Haliburton, Myles Turner and some pieces. The Jazz actually added decent talent in all their trades and haven’t moved Mike Conley. Houston wants to win for a variety of reasons including Stephen Silas trying to keep his job. The Magic are one of my over bets.
So if the Spurs can get the No. 1 pick and not have to really press to lose in the last half of the year, they could slide to 24-25 wins.
There are some vets on this team like Josh Richardson, Jakob Poeltl, and Doug McDermott who are good at what they do. Keldon Johnson has real upside and maybe sneaky star potential.
This is likely Popovich’s last season as head coach. That’s huge motivational differential even for a team with clear intentions to build for the future.
The Case for the Under
- The Intentions Are Clear
- The Market Is Directionally Predictive
- The Last Time They Tried to Tank
Look, the Spurs are not exactly stealth tanking here. They traded Derrick White and Dejounte Murray, their two best players, inside of four months of one another, then let Lonnie Walker IV walk in free agency.
From a basketball perspective, there’s just not a lot of talent here. Most of their rotation players are 23 years of age or younger and have below-league-average advanced metric evaluations.
League sources also expect San Antonio to look to trade their veterans, most notably Poeltl and Richardson, by mid-season, well before the deadline. They have four players and four players only with more than four years of NBA experience and only Poeltl is arguably starter quality.
The Spurs want a top pick and have made clear their intentions to pursue that route. The Spurs’ win total is 11.5 wins lower than last seasons’ actual wins mark. When a team's win total over/under is 10 games worse than the previous season's actual win total (how many games they actually won), the under is 15-8 (65%) in the last 10 years.
The way to read this is that the market generally knows when a team is going down. It’s rare that a line moves this far down and a team overperforms.
The last time the Spurs genuinely tried to tank was the 1996-97 season without David Robinson. Their win total (which expected Robinson) was 55.5 that season so of course they went under. But the last time they really attempted to lose games, they finished with just 20 wins in the first season where Popovich took over after firing Bob Hill.
The value of a top pick in this draft is much higher than the last few seasons. Both Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson are regarded more highly than most of the top-3 picks the last two seasons.
So those teams that may have more talent may try even harder to get under, which means the Spurs will have to get into the 17-20 range to make sure they get the pick they want.
Spurs Win Total Bet
The number is low enough that I don’t think there’s an edge. It’s under or pass.
You don’t want to have an over bet on a team that has basically declared they want to lose, but you don’t want to bet on a team to win fewer than 23 games given the randomness of the regular season for a team this well coached. It’s a hard pass.