Welcome to my first annual Win Totals Over/Under Prediction article. The numbers that I’m using are the official NBA Pick Em’ win totals for over/under. These picks (over or under) are what my bet would be on the given amount of wins for each team.
Note: Each of these over/under predictions is independent of the others.
Atlanta Hawks – 26.5
2017-18 Record: 24-58
The Hawks are not a good team. They’re young, inexperienced, and only have one all-star on the roster. That all-star also happens to be 42 years old and hasn’t been in all-star game for over a decade. But they aren’t going to be horrible. They have a deep group of good role players and acquired a few solid veteran leaders. Another year of experience for their young star, John Collins, will go a long way, and Trae Young looks ready to contribute immediately.
I’d take the over, but not with a lot of confidence. 28-29 wins sounds about right.
Boston Celtics – 58.5
2017-18 Record: 55-27
Danny Ainge sure knows how to assemble a roster. There are arguably seven players on the Celtics capable of making the all-star team in the correct situation: Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Terry Rozier. Due to limited playing time to go around, they will likely have “only” four or five. The biggest problem this team could have is a group of bench players that deserve more minutes than they get. That’s a good problem to have. There are concerns about Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving returning from their injuries, but they won 55 games last season with both of them out. Gordon Hayward is the Celtics’ best player and Kyrie Irving is their second best player (at least until Jayson Tatum is ready to take the leap). Adding them will not make the Celtics worse. With LeBron James heading West, the Celtics will look to cement themselves as the new standard in the Eastern Conference; they won’t be as complacent in the regular season as we’ve seen the Warriors over the past two seasons. They have the depth, talent, and coaching to have most wins in the league.
I’m taking the over, and if I’m being honest, I would probably take the over at 64.5.
Brooklyn Nets – 29.5
2017-18 Record: 28-54
The Nets have had a rough few years after trading away everything to Boston back in 2013. They hit a low point in the 2015-16 season when they won 21 games, didn’t have their next 3 first round picks, and had no young stars on the roster. Since that time, they have actually done quite well with their roster. They picked up good veterans in Ed Davis, Kenneth Faried, and Demarre Carroll, developed promising young talent in Caris Levert, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Jarrett Allen, and Spencer Dinwiddie, and their young stud point guard D’Angelo Russell is returning after an injury-plagued season. This team will be better than people expect.
I’d bet the over, and wouldn’t be shocked if the Nets are in the playoff hunt in April.
Charlotte Hornets – 35.5
2017-18 Record: 36-46
Say what you want about Dwight Howard and his shenanigans, the guy can still play. He’s still an amazing athlete, and always comes into the season in shape. Losing him will hurt more than people realize. Howard is an elite rim protector and rebounder, and even with the strides made by Cody Zeller, his production will be hard to replace. Kemba Walker is the best point guard in the NBA who isn’t good enough to carry a team by himself. The Hornets are a strange team in that they have a group of old guys who are past their primes and a few young promising players, but nobody seems to be on the same timeline as their best player. The Hornets will struggle, and this will likely turn into a tanking season.
I’m taking the under in one of the easier picks of the season.
Chicago Bulls – 28.5
2017-18 Record: 27-55
The Bulls have made a few gambles on injured players over the offseason. First signing Zach LaVine to a 4-year/$78M deal (matched an offer sheet from the Kings) and then acquiring Jabari Parker for $20M/year, they are hoping both players can return to peak form healthy and ready. Another year of development for Lauri Markkanen will be fun to watch, but the Bulls might end up with the youngest rotation in the NBA. They only have 3 players over 25 on their entire roster, and Omer Asik won’t be part of their rotation (or shouldn’t be). They will struggle to win games, and unless they have multiple players take a leap, this team is going to be terrible. They won 27 games last year mostly on the back of a great stretch when Mirotic returned. Don’t expect something similar this year.
Take the under, this team will have a worse record than last season.
Cleveland Cavaliers – 30.5
2017-18 Record: 50-32
I’m excited to see how the Cavs will run their offense with their focal point gone. Do they run through Kevin Love in the high post? Do they unleash Collin Sexton to lead the team? They have a ton of solid veterans, but there is a big gap between them and the young talent on the team. I’m not sold on Ty Lue, but I think LeBron wasn’t doing him any favors either. Based on their roster, this team should still make the playoffs. I’m all-in for a reinvigorated Kevin Love with something to prove and a team to lead.
This is an easy over, and the Cavs get back to the postseason.
Dallas Mavericks – 35.5
2017-18 Record: 24-58
So nobody in Las Vegas watched the Mavericks last season? They were too busy watching Luca Doncic play overseas, and expecting him to make this team relevant apparently. Rick Carlisle is one of the best coaches in the NBA, but this team is awful. Dennis Smith showed explosiveness and the ability to play in the NBA, but he’s not ready for a leading role. Nowitzki is another year older. Harrison Barnes is an above-average wing, and DeAndre Jordan is solid, but where else do they have any talent? I can’t imagine Doncic is worth 12 wins, especially with the Western Conference somehow getting even better this season.
This might be the most blatant under of the year. The Mavs have a better chance at the first overall pick than they do to win 36 games.
Denver Nuggets – 46.5
2017-18 Record: 46-36
The Nuggets were a play-in game away from the playoffs in one of the more memorable ends to a season we’ve seen in a while. Every rotational player on this team should improve from last season – Paul Millsap and Isaiah Thomas are the only players over 28 who will play and both should be improved as they become further removed from their injuries that caused them to miss most of last season. The Nuggets almost made the playoffs last year, and should definitely make it this year. Jokic is ready to lead this team and I’m excited to see how much better he can get.
They should improve on their 46 wins, I’m taking the over.
Detriot Pistons – 40.5
2017-18 Record: 39-43
The Pistons might be the most average team in the league. Last season, they had an offensive rating of 107.2 (points scored per 100 possession) and a defensive rating of 107.3 (points allowed per 100 possessions. They are a tough team to pin down, but with another year of cohesion with Blake Griffin on the roster, I think they have the potential to win a few more of their close games.
I’ll take the slight over, and they win exactly half their games at 41.
Golden State Warriors – 64.5
2017-18 Record: 58-24
The Golden State Warriors could win 70 regular season games if they wanted to. Over the past two seasons, they’ve been content to rest starters and focus on staying healthy getting into the playoffs. Based on last year’s scare in Houston, I’m not sure they won’t push to ensure they get the 1st seed in the West. With a couple of improved teams in the West, I think there will be more parity and 60 wins should do the trick.
Tough to take the under on the best team in the league, but I think they cruise to 1 seed without getting to 65 wins.
Houston Rockets – 56.5
The Rockets lost Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza, and Joe Johnson. One of their biggest strengths was their depth and the ability to surround Chris Paul and James Harden with good shooters. These losses hurt, and the shell of the former Carmelo Anthony isn’t the answer. But the Rockets will be fine. They still have their two generational talents, a young blossoming star in Clint Capela, and a solid group around them. I think they overachieved last season to get 65 wins, and I expect them to regress to the norm, especially with West improving.
I’d guess they win low 50s, I’ll take the under.
Indiana Pacers – 46.5
2017-18 Record: 48-34
What a season it was for Victor Oladipo and the Pacers. This team took the Eastern Conference champions to 7 games, and Oladipo showed he has the chops to be the best player on a really good team. He didn’t look out of place playing head to head against LeBron James. If Myles Turner can live up to his potential, the Pacers could be a dark horse in the East. They should be at least as good or slightly better after another year together.
Give me the over, Pacers win 50 games for the first time in 5 years.
Los Angeles Clippers – 38.5
2017-18 Record: 42-40
The Clippers had a winning record last season and still finished 4 wins away from even 9th place in the West. It’s that tough. They added some new pieces, but when your best player is Tobias Harris, you’re in trouble. Harris was great last season, but he’s not a star. Even if Lou Williams can continue his hot streak from last season, this team won’t have a winning record again, and definitely won’t be in the playoff hunt.
Hit the under, this team is closer to 30 wins than to 40.
Los Angeles Lakers – 49.5
2017-18 Record: 35-47
Since the 2005-06 season (13 seasons), LeBron James has won less than 50 games exactly twice. One of those was a lockout season when the Heat went 46-20. If you’re betting that LeBron won’t win 50 games this season, I’m not sure what you’ve been watching for the past decade. The Lakers have 4 young players who are already good players, and have potential to be stars. Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma are both big, long players who can already create their own shot and score. Josh Hart is a great two-way player who figures to be at a solid role player at a minimum for years to come. Lonzo Ball is much better than people seem to realize. The kid is a stud. With LeBron guiding the group, and veteran pickups in JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo, the Lakers will be a force.
Lakers win 55 games, I’m taking the over.
Memphis Grizzlies – 32.5
2017-18 Record: 22-60
As awful as the Grizzlies were last season, they had a lot go wrong. Injuries plagued their entire roster, with only rookie Dillon Brooks playing in more than 73 games. Only 5 players (including Brooks) played in more than 56 games. It’s tough to win games when all your players are injured. The Grizzlies hadn’t missed the playoffs for the 7 seasons before last. Mike Conley remains one of the most underrated players in the league, and when he has been healthy, this team has been very good. Adding Jaren Jackson Jr. means if they can avoid the injury bug, they’ll have a chance to be in the playoff hunt. That’s a big if for this team. Losing Conley or Gasol for any extended time effectively ends their chances.
Tough call, but I’ll take the under. I need to see the health before I believe in the Grizzlies again.
Miami Heat – 41.5
2017-18 Record: 44-38
The Heat is a solid team with good coaching and a deep rotation. They have 11 players who can provide solid minutes (plus Dwyane Wade). Josh Richardson has the potential and athleticism to develop into a star. He’s already a legitimately scary defender and shoots 38% from deep. Bam Adebayo showed flashes of brilliance, especially later in the season when Eric Spoelstra began to run the offense through him. They may not have anyone flashy, but they should be average or better at all 5 positions. When Hassan Whiteside is healthy, they can play lineups that smother on defense. Goran Dragic, Richardson, Justice Winslow, James Johnson, and Hassan Whiteside is a nightmare to attack. In the Eastern Conference, this team should take care of bad teams regularly and easily grab a playoff spot. And don’t forget, they might have Jimmy Butler by the end of the season.
Take the over, 45 wins is realistic.
Milwaukee Bucks – 46.5
Giannis Antetokounmpo is not human. He somehow could be considered the most improved player in the NBA every single season. As I’ve mentioned before, each season he’s been in the league, he’s increased his points per game by at least 4. The Greek Freak is the only person ever to do this over 5 seasons. Watching him this preseason, he’s somehow even bigger, faster, and stronger than he was a year ago. He’s still growing into his frame, and he’s incredibly starting to look like a young Shaq. The Bucks go as Giannis goes, so I’m expecting the Bucks to be improved as well. But 47 wins is a lot for a team that hasn’t won more than 46 for the past 17 seasons. They’ll be improved, just not quite enough to take the over.
Bucks win 46 games, just miss the over. Give me the under.
Minnesota Timberwolves – 44.5
2017-18 Record: 47-35
I hate to say it, but my beloved Timberwolves are not winning 45 games. This total came out prior to the Jimmy Butler drama, and it has already dropped them to 41.5 in Vegas. Not great! The Timberwolves gave up 124.6 points per game during the preseason. I understand it’s only preseason and Butler wasn’t playing, but for a team that has historically struggled on that end of the ball, this is not a promising sign. Until the locker room drama can be contained or Butler gets traded, this is going to be a rough campaign for Minnesota.
Hammer the under, Wolves back to the lottery.
New Orleans Pelicans – 43.5
2017-18 Record: 48-34
Anthony Davis finally has the help he needs to bring the Pelicans into the national spotlight. Jrue Holiday is an elite defender and has developed into a very good playmaker. They acquired Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton to provide support around Davis, which should help continue the progress that was made after trading for Mirotic last season. The Pelicans are better in every way from last season, and Davis is hitting his prime. This team has a chance to compete at the top of the West, and I’m not betting against the Brow.
Anthony Davis. Big over.
New York Knicks – 31.5
2017-18 Record: 29-53
The Knicks are tough to gauge. If Kristapz Porzingis returns to full strength relatively quickly, this could be a playoff team. If he doesn’t, this could be a 20-win team. There’s no timeline for his return so it looks like the Knicks are going to ride with Frank Ntilikina, Tim Hardaway Jr, Enes Kanter, rookie Kevin Knox, and a whole lot of garbage around them. Porzingis is good enough to lift the rest of the roster to the middle of the East, but without him, this team is lost. It’s the Knicks, and James Dolan is still in charge, so I’m not holding my breath.
Come back soon Kristapz. Under.
Oklahoma City Thunder – 48.5
2017-18 Record: 48-34
It’s sad to me that Carmelo Anthony will be remembered as the player he’s been for the past few seasons. 2003-2014 Melo was a killer. Losing 2018 Melo actually helps your team. Adding Dennis Schroder was a solid move to improve the bench, and getting Andre Roberson back will help. The Thunder will never be a legitimate contender until Russell Westbrook stops chucking 4.4 long twos and 4.1 triples per game (he shoots long twos and three pointers at 38% and 31% respectively) and learns how to help his teammates succeed. If he replaced those 8.5 possessions per game with effective passing that gets other players involved, the Thunder would not only score more, but they would also develop a better bench. Even though they won’t be a contender, they’ll be the same team as last season with a bit better bench help.
They look like a 50-win team. Over.
Orlando Magic – 30.5
2017-18 Record: 25-57
The Magic have won 30+ games just once in the past six seasons. They lost Elfrid Payton and acquired a bunch of below average role players. They did snag Mo Bamba in the draft who I think will be decent, but he’s still raw, and it will take a lot of time for him to acclimate to the NBA. He’s not moving the needle. The Magic will be bad yet again.
Philadelphia 76ers – 54.5
2017-18 Record: 52-30
The 76ers are going to be very good again. Joel Embiid is still developing his skills, and could already be the best center in the league. Ben Simmons is already a top-tier defender and playmaker, and despite his less-than-stellar shooting, he’s still an efficient scorer since nearly half (46.2%) of his shots come within 3 feet where he shoots 74.4%. Philadelphia also has a full assortment of role players who fit together perfectly, including new additions in Mike Muscala and Wilson Chandler. I’m not ready to give up on Markelle Fultz (who was the consensus first overall pick a year ago for a reason), but even if he provides nothing, the 76ers are still in good shape. Their main focus should be on staying healthy and getting to the playoffs intact, since their two best players have played in only 28.7% and 49.4% respectively since being drafted, along with Fultz playing only 14 games in his lone season. Last season saw Embiid and Simmons play 63 and 81 games, so they seem to be trending in the right direction, but injuries could easily derail this talented team.
I think they’ll be right around where they were last year. 52 wins and an under.
Phoenix Suns – 27.5
2017-18 Record: 21-61
The Suns finished the season with the worst record in the NBA last season, and it was as ugly as you’d expect. Adding 1st overall pick DeAndre Ayton will be a huge boost to the defense, and they traded up for a second pick in the top 10 in Mikal Bridges. This was an undeniably good draft, but they had a much better offseason than just the draft. There was no leadership, slow development, and a lack of identity. I think that will change this season as the Suns added quality veterans. Trevor Ariza, Darrell Arthur, and Ryan Anderson are all solid veterans who will help the Suns win sooner rather than later. As their young team develops, they won’t be the pushovers we’ve seen over the past few seasons. Still, they play in the West, and if their main priority is developing the young talent (as it should be), there will still be some growing pains ahead.
Reluctantly taking the under, despite loving the young talented roster.
Portland Trail Blazers – 42.5
2017-18 Record: 49-33
The Trail Blazers will be largely the same team as last season, with the only notable loss being Ed Davis. Davis is solid, but Zach Collins is ready for an expanded role, and Portland shouldn’t struggle with the loss. This team overachieved in the regular season on the back of Damian Lillard’s seemingly endless 4th quarter heroics. It all came tumbling down in the playoffs. I doubt that they will be able to do that again, but winning 7 less games is a lot. I expect the Trail Blazers to be in the playoff battle, yet again. Their oldest player is only 30 years old, and Lillard and CJ McCollum are just reaching their primes. The Blazers won’t roll over.
45 wins in a losing fight for the 8th seed. Still get the over.
Sacramento Kings – 26.5
2017-18 Record: 27-55
As a Minnesota fan, I feel a kind of kinship with the Sacramento Kings. The Kings might be the only team that has repeatedly been more incompetent than the Timberwolves. Two tormented franchises who have nobody to blame but ownership and management for screwing up over and over again. The Kings have a lot of really fun young guys, who will be good in the NBA for years. Just wait until they’re playing for a new team. I can’t wait to see how Vlade Divac and Vivek Ranadive mess these young guys up. Maybe Danny Ainge will convince Divac that Marvin Bagley III is a bust and trade him for some magic beans.
It’s the Kings, so it’s another under.
San Antonio Spurs – 45.5
2017-18 Record: 47-35
I was really excited to see the Spurs this season until last week. During the offseason, Manu Ginobili retired, Tony Parker signed with the Hornets, Kyle Anderson signed with the Grizzies, and Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green were traded to Toronto. This meant that we got to see how good Popovich is without any of his players from his prior championships. He essentially would replace the old crew with a young all-star in DeMar DeRozan and a young prospect in Jakob Poeltl. It all seemed to be coming together until the injuries started. Lonnie Walker IV, Dejounte Murray, and Derrick White all went down and now the Spurs look extremely thin to start the season. They still have a few all-stars on the roster, but this could finally be the year where the Spurs fold.
Popovich will make me look like an idiot I’m sure, but… Under on the Spurs.
Toronto Rapters – 54.5
2017-18 Record: 59-23
The Raptors have been, conservatively speaking, a gigantic disappointment in the playoffs. Each of the past 3 seasons, they have lost to LeBron James and the Cavaliers, including getting swept the past two seasons, despite having the same record in 2016-17 and 8 more wins last season. They needed to change things up, and boy did they swing for the fences. Trading for Kawhi Leonard is a win almost automatically. Replacing DeMar DeRozan with Leonard and only giving up Jakob Poeltl to do so is a steal. The Raptors are going to be something special. I understand the hesitation of a new head coach and time to adjust, but Leonard is so much better than DeRozan I don’t think it will matter. This team is going to challenge Boston for first place in the East.
Over. Watch out.
Utah Jazz – 48.5
2017-18 Record: 48-34
The Jazz are a lot of peoples’ favorite to make a leap into contention this season, and with good reason. They went on a tear down the back half of the season, and there’s nothing to suggest it was a fluke. They are very good defensively, and Donovan Mitchell had an incredible rookie season. Their oldest players (who actually get time) are 31 and still effective. They have a solid 9 man rotation and a few guys who could potentially step up in an expanded role. Quin Snyder will have this team ready to go and we’ll see the Jazz near the top of the West.
Jazz will get to 50 wins. Over.
Washington Wizards – 44.5
2017-18 Record: 43-39
I don’t know what to think about the Wizards. I think that they have a solid roster that’s ready to win, but with Wall and the addition of Dwight Howard, this team has ‘sideshow’ written all over it. After their starting lineup of Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr., Markieff Morris, and Howard, they have a bunch of forgettable guys. The Wizards will be fine. Not good, not bad. Fine.
41-41. Under. Fine.