2022-23 NBA Win Totals Over/Under Predictions – Part 2

Welcome back for Part 2 of my third annualish Win Totals Over/Under Prediction article where I give my overview of the state of each team. You can find Part 1 here. The over/under numbers that I’m predicting against are listed as the Vegas betting totals for NBA wins. Each of my picks (over or under the listed win total) are what my bet would be for whether the team wins more or less than the win total listed by Vegas.

Note: Each of these over/under predictions is independent of the others.

Houston Rockets – 23.5

2021-22 Record: 20-62

Last year my entire write-up for predicting Houston under 27.5 wins was as follows: “The Rockets won 17 games last season (~19 win pace for 82 games). They added Jalen Green. Under.” I’ll try to be similarly concise today – the Rockets were the worst team in the league last season, and will be content to be again. They have done a great job in their rebuild, but the incentive to tank is too high this season. Under.

Indiana Pacers – 23.5

2021-22 Record: 25-57

Despite predicting an over (42.5) last season, I did acknowledge that the Pacers trading away their best players was “a big risk to this team.” As much as I like Tyrese Haliburton, Sabonis is a far better player than him today, and Indiana no longer has the roster of a team that will compete for a playoff spot. 24 wins is not a lot, but they’ll be joining the Rockets in a race to the bottom. Under.

Los Angeles Clippers – 52.5

2021-22 Record: 42-40

Paul George and Kawhi Leonard alone would make any team a contender, and the Clippers have ideal role players around them. A lot of the success for Los Angeles depends on Leonard’s health, but if his legs are any indication, he’s more than ready for the upcoming season. The Clippers might have the best roster in the league (on paper) outside of Brooklyn, and I have no reason to doubt that they can be the best team in the West.

My pick for the most wins in the league, the Clippers hit the over.

Los Angeles Lakers – 45.5

2021-22 Record: 33-49

I’m not sure what the Lakers were doing when they assembled this roster. There’s no excuse for a team with LeBron James and Anthony Davis to be surrounded by non-shooters. They have a lot of guys who are better individually than they are for the team. The only players who make any sense for them are Patrick Beverley (I fucking love Pat Bev forever) and Kendrick Nunn, who is coming off a missed season due to a bone bruise in his knee. Everyone else who figures to get playing time (Russ Westbrook, Austin Reaves, Lonnie Walker IV, Juan Toscano-Anderson, etc.) have productive skillsets, but aren’t shooters and don’t fit alongside LeBron and AD. They could surprise, and it’s never a sure thing betting against LeBron, but do we really think this team is going to win 13 more games than last season in a Western Conference that got better? I do not.

Lakers don’t get to 40 win. Hard under.

Memphis Grizzlies – 48.5

2021-22 Record: 56-26

Last year, I wrote that “Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., Brandon Clarke, and Desmond Bane are all under 25 and have the potential to develop into one of the best groups in the league.” Well, they did just that. I also wrote that “Ja Morant is great, but can’t carry a team yet.” Well, he did just that. Still, despite the Grizzlies winning a lot of games, they never really felt like a great team, and I’m dubious about whether last season was indicative of how successful Memphis will be going forward. They bring back their entire playoff rotation, except for Kyle Anderson, and their whole team is young enough to reasonably expect them to develop. Desmond Bane is already one of the best role players in the league (almost to the point that calling him a role player is an insult), Jaren Jackson has been excellent in limited stretches, but isn’t quite up to being the 2nd best player on a good team, Brandon Clarke was just extended on a steal of a contract, and Dillon Brooks & Tyus Jones always seem to make the right plays at the right times. Still, where this team goes is highly reliant on Morant, and I’m not sure he can ascend to the next level. He’s still a bad defender, and tends to force it when things break down. I’m not sure the Grizzlies are as good as last season, but 50 wins seems reasonable.

Memphis fights for a home playoff series and just barely gets the over.

Miami Heat – 48.5

2021-22 Record: 53-29

Erik Spoelstra might be the best coach in the NBA. His teams have consistently overachieved, and they always seem to play as better than the sum of their parts. They return their entire core, and their draft pick Nikola Jović seems to be a perfect fit for them. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are two of the best 2-way players in the league, and Kyle Lowry’s veteran presence was an ideal fit. I still think they overachieved last season, but when a team does it consistently, is it still overachieving? My head tells me that this team should win 50 games, but I just can’t seem to get there. Plus, I love betting against Jimmy Butler.

Miami gets the 6th seed in an improved East. Under.

Milwaukee Bucks – 52.5

2021-22 Record: 51-31

How can you not love Giannis Antetokounmpo? If you haven’t read Mirin Fader’s book “Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP,” you should. It goes in-depth on his childhood and gives great insight as to why Giannis works so hard, which explains why he has improved every season. The follow-up to their championship season fell short with an injury to Khris Middleton, but I expect them to be right back in short order. Milwaukee brings everyone back, and added Joe Ingles for depth. I’d probably bet on the Bucks over any team in the East except the Nets. It’s a lot easier to trust a team to win a playoff series when they have the best player in the series (which the Bucks would have in any matchup). Still, they haven’t prioritized the regular season, and wouldn’t have hit this over either of the past two seasons. This is one of the tougher choices, but I like Giannis so I guess I’ll take the over.

Minnesota Timberwolves – 48.5

2021-22 Record: 46-36

This team won 46 games last season and upgraded from a 6’9 center who had basically zero offensive impact to the best defending center in the league who led the NBA in FG%. If Rudy Gobert doesn’t make this team 3 wins better, then I just really don’t know what would. The trade was probably an overpay, but I absolutely LOVE the fit on this team, and this team in undoubtedly better than it was last season. 55 wins incoming.

Easy over.

New Orleans Pelicans – 44.5

2021-22 Record: 36-46

There is so much talent on this roster, and I actually think it fits together really well. Zion Williamson & Brandon Ingram are a great 1-2 punch, and CJ McCollum & Jonas Valančiūnas are elite 3rd and 4th scoring options. Add in Herb Jones, Jose Alvarado, Jaxson Hayes, and Larry Nance, and you have one of the best 8-man rotations in the league. They aren’t the deepest team in the league, but I expect their starting lineup to torch opponents. The top of the West is brutal as usual, but I actually don’t think the Pelicans are too far off talent-wise from that group. I think this team will make a leap similar to the Timberwolves last season. 47 wins, the play-in, and a nice over.

Philadelphia 76ers – 50.5

2021-22 Record: 51-31

The 76ers won 51 games last season, and after getting another year of chemistry with their new core, they’re primed to be even better this season. Joel Embiid cares about the MVP award, so I actually think Philly will continue to push for seeding toward the end of the season. I don’t think we’ll ever see prime Harden again, but if he can play his secondary scoring role and if his shooting returns to form, they might have the biggest upside of any team in the NBA. Tyrese Maxey is primed for a breakout, PJ Tucker was a great addition, and Thybulle is still one of the premier wing defenders in the league. Philadelphia is deep and can afford any load management they need to take; The only risk to this team is an injury to Embiid. Even if they lose anyone else for an extended period, their depth should allow them to tread water. This is a clear 50+ win team, and they’d hit the over in 4 of the past 5 seasons. I see no reason for that trend not to continue. 54 wins gets them the 2 seed and an over.

This ends part 2 of my predictions. Stay tuned for Part 3 and of the season predictions dropping tomorrow.


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