2022-23 NBA Win Totals Over/Under Predictions – Part 3

Welcome back for Part 3 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 and Part 2 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.

New York Knicks – 38.5

2021-22 Record: 37-45

The Knicks are tough to predict. They followed up a promising season in 2020-21 with a trainwreck last year. Julius Randle is the new Tobias Harris – that mid tier guy who can sometimes look like a star, but ultimately is just a top-end role player with some upside. Immanuel Quickley is solid, but didn’t show much improvement from his rookie year. Hopefully he can take a step. I (still) LOVE Mitchell Robinson. Especially playing alongside their new addition of Jalen Brunson. One of my biggest concerns this season is RJ Barrett. Some people seem to think he’s a borderline all-star, but I just haven’t seen anything from Barrett that makes me think he’ll ever even be a net positive for a team. He’s inconsistent, can’t defend (despite having the length and quickness), and often shoots the Knicks out of games by trying to do too much. The tools are there, but until I see him consistently put them together, I’m not sold on Barrett.

Last season I wrote that it’s “always tough to believe in a franchise that continually shoots itself in the foot” and that still rings true. But the addition of Jalen Brunson makes this a respectable team above the clear tankers, and I think they flirt with the play-in. 39 wins and barely over.

Oklahoma City Thunder – 23.5

2021-22 Record: 24-58

This might be my hardest prediction in the entire league. On the one hand, 2nd overall pick Chet Holmgren’s injury means that the Thunder will almost assuredly be in the Wembayama sweepstakes. On the other hand, they were the 4th worst team in the league last season, and still won 24 games. My guess is the win totals at the bottom of the league will be even lower this year, but they bring back essentially their entire rotation (they bring back their top-8, plus add 11th overall pick Ousmane Dieng). We can reasonably expect some development across the board, considering every one of those 8 players is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. He’s 24 years old. Fuck it, I trust SGA – betting the over!

Orlando Magic – 26.5

2021-22 Record: 22-60

What a difference a year makes! I wrote last year “This Magic roster is one of the rare times I’ve found it difficult to get excited about anything on a team” before predicting a sad (but accurate) 22 wins and an under. In terms of success, I was absolutely correct. In terms of excitement, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Franz Wagner is awesome! Mo Bamba is shooting 4 triples a game! Cole Anthony and Wendell Carter showed some flashes of real potential! Markelle Fultz did stuff! I’m not sold on Jalen Suggs, but he’s at least a fun player to watch! Jonathan Isaac is returning! Add in the first overall pick Paolo ‘Sing to me‘ Banchero and you have the recipe for a (still bad, but less so!) team I’m excited to follow. Plus, they’re poised to give big minutes to six different players listed at 6’10” or taller, which should feature some lineups with 4 of them at the same time – I love it!

Now, the important question: do I think they’ll win 27 games? I do not. Under.

P.S. I will never apologize for the Lizzy Maguire Movie reference.

Phoenix Suns – 52.5

2021-22 Record: 64-18

One of my worst picks last year, I bet under 51.5 wins, and the Suns crushed it, winning 64 games, 8 more than any other team. I wrote last year “based on everything we’ve seen over the past year, this should be an over, and they don’t have many real flaws. But I think the timing was right for all of the role players to ascend to new heights in ways that regress back to the norm.” I was wrong, but for some reason I still think I need to double down. Maybe I was just a year off? There’s franchise drama with Sarver, and while bringing back DeAndre Ayton is big, it still feels like a delicate situation. Still, this was a 64-win team that brings back everyone on their roster, except JaVale McGee, and the only players old enough to expect any type of decline are Chris Paul (37) and Jae Crowder (32). Everyone else is in their prime. Plus, I’m a huge CP3 fan, so why am I so adamant to bet against this team?

I’m not sure what it is about them, but I’m just not a believer. Going with my gut and saying the Suns fight to avoid the play-in tournament. Under.

Portland Trail Blazers – 39.5

2021-22 Record: 27-55

Terry Stotts was the coach in Portland for 9 seasons. He had a total of just 2 losing seasons, and his worst record was 33-49 (this was Lillard’s rookie year). In his tenure, his only all-stars were Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge (for 3 years before signing with San Antonio). I’m not sure what my point is here, except that we don’t (or at least I don’t think *I did*) appreciate how good of a coach he was. Chauncey Billups’ first season as head coach saw him lose Lillard to injury, so I’m not sure we can judge him based on that, but Portland was a mess last season.

The Blazers have surrounded Lillard and Jusuf Nurkić (hopefully both healthy now) with some young guys that I really like: Gary Payton II (has the makings of a solid 3-and-D contributor), Anfernee Simons (absolute flamethrower), and Josh Hart (one of the most underrated transition players in the league – he will thrive alongside Lillard). But this roster is razor thin, and they need everyone to contribute more and become greater than the sum of their parts if they want to make the play-in. Is Billups up to the challenge? I’m not sold.

Hate to bet against Dame, but Portland is closer to 30 wins than 40. Under.

Sacramento Kings – 33.5

2021-22 Record: 30-52

My favorite under the radar player in the league is Domantas Sabonis. He rarely has a highlight play, but he so crafty and effective in what he does. Sabonis is basically Jokić-lite, and would be the best passing big man in a decade if the 2-time MVP didn’t exist. He’s also stronger than he gets credit for defensively. De’Aaron Fox might be the fastest player in the league, and despite his shooting regression over the past few years, I think he has another few levels in him. Richaun Holmes, Harrison Barnes, and Kevin Huerter are all solid. Davion Mitchell showed flashes, and more poise as a rookie point guard than most. Malik Monk and Trey Lyles can give productive minutes, and I’ve heard good things about 4th overall pick Keegan Murray. I just can’t shake the feeling that this team is better on paper than it will be on the court. Fox has a ways to go, Mitchell isn’t ready for a bigger role, Huerter & Monk have disappeared at times, and Murray is still just a rookie.

I really wanted to go over for Sacramento, but the upside just isn’t there. 30 wins and the under.

San Antonio Spurs – 22.5

2021-22 Record: 34-48

The Spurs lost two of their best players (Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker IV) this offseason. This is after losing Derrick White in the middle of the season and DeMar DeRozan and Patty Mills in the prior offseason. The Spurs are in full tank mode, and will not win many games. But they have the lowest over/under in the league, and 23 wins is just not very many. They have a barebones roster, but there’s actually more decent players than you’d think. Keldon Johnson, Doug McDermott, Tre Jones, Devin Vassell, Zach Collins, Josh Richardson, and Jakob Poeltl are all real contributors. They have zero top-level talent (and Johnson is almost assuredly the worst player in the NBA who will be his team’s best player), but I don’t think a bunch of competent NBA players led by Greg Popovich will be the worst team in the NBA. Maybe I’m giving them too much credit (since this is arguably the worst roster in the league), but until Pop finally misses one, I’m never betting against him again. Over.

Toronto Rapters – 45.5

2021-22 Record: 48-34

If you don’t have a team to root for, I’d highly recommend the Raptors. They are positioned to be really good in a few years. The roster consists of a unique(ish) group of players that have consistently developed their talent, changed their identity to suit their skillsets, and regularly overachieved expectations. 2021-22 Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes showed flashes of being a true superstar, Pascal Siakam has taken a leadership role after the departures of Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry, and Fred VanVleet doesn’t get enough credit for continuing to be one of the best shooters in the NBA, despite increased volume and defensive attention. Gary Trent Jr. and OG Anunoby have stepped up in their expanded roles, and have both made a compelling case for even bigger roles. Precious Achiuwa and Chris Boucher seemed to have figured it out. The additions of Otto Porter Jr. and Bo Cruz Juancho Hernangómez give them even more depth than they had last season.

I really love this team, but I just can’t get myself there, with the (and this will probably upset Raptors fans) lack of high-end talent. Barnes seems primed to be the leader of this team, but his jumper is iffy, he made a lot of rookie mistakes (understandably!), and I think he’s a year away from being the all-star the Raptors need. Siakam and VanVleet are as dependable as they get, but neither is suited to be the first option.

With 9 teams in the East (including this one) having an argument that they could get a home playoff series, someone has to be the odd man out. I predicted the Bulls and Cavs to each win 45 games, and I think that’s where I’m at with the Raptors as well. One of my least favorite picks – a very uncomfortable under.

Utah Jazz – 24.5

2021-22 Record: 49-33

The Jazz took the phrase “blowing it up” to a whole new level this offseason. Of the 14 players who played the most minutes on the Jazz last season, the only remaining players on the roster are Jordan Clarkson and Mike Conley. Everyone talked about the picks they got (they currently have 9 extra first round picks over the next 7 drafts), but not enough has been said about the roster they’ve assembled. The Jazz will not be as bad as people expect.

Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Kelly Olynyk have all played big (and productive!) minutes on good teams. Clarkson has blossomed into a excellent lead guard, Lauri Markkanen is an above average starter, Collin Sexton has a lot of upside, and Rudy Gay and Conley (what a fun reunion!) may not play big minutes, but should provide a veteran presence to steer the ship. Plus they added 2 first round picks in Ochai Agbaji (14th overall) and Walker Kessler (22nd overall). This team will surprise people, and I’d be surprised if they’re a pushover.

They’ll be bad, but I think 27 wins is doable. Over.

Washington Wizards – 35.5

2021-22 Record: 35-47

I really like what the Wizards have done over the past few seasons, taking low-risk guys with upside and trying to make them fit around Bradley Beal. Rui Hachimura was on fire after returning from his injury (he shot 44.7% from deep last season) and I’m expecting a big year from him. Corey Kispert had a sneaky good rookie year. Trading for Monte Morris and Will Barton was a steal, despite Barton’s awful season last year. Morris is a perennial 6th Man of the Year candidate, and Barton has shown he can be a high-end role player. It’s crazy that they didn’t give up anything to get them both (no disrespect to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith, but… kinda disrespect). I’m not sure Kristaps Porziņģis will ever be the player we all expected him to become in New York, but he’s still got massive potential. Kyle Kuzma has been a revelation. Deni Avdija didn’t show me as much as I’d hoped over his first 2 seasons, but he’s got elite potential if he can ever put it together. Daniel Gafford has carved out a role and shown he belongs in the NBA. Can Johnny Davis do the same? We’ll see.

I think Wizards are on the right path, but their timeline just doesn’t match up with Beal’s. I think he’s gone by the trade deadline, and while the Wizards will be about as good as last season, 35 wins isn’t enough. Next year, Washington. This year is an under.

That concludes the season predictions for 2022-23, I’ll leave you with the final listing below:

Eastern Conference:

  1. Brooklyn Nets (58-24)
  2. Philadelphia 76ers (54-28)
  3. Milwaukee Bucks (53-29)
  4. Boston Celtics (50-32)
  5. Atlanta Hawks (48-34)
  6. Miami Heat (47-35)
  7. Cleveland Cavaliers (45-37)
  8. Toronto Raptors (45-37)
  9. Chicago Bulls (45-37)
  10. New York Knicks (39-43)
  11. Washington Wizards (35-47)
  12. Charlotte Hornets (28-54)
  13. Orlando Magic (25-57)
  14. Detroit Pistons (24-58)
  15. Indiana Pacers (23-59)

Western Conference:

  1. Los Angeles Clippers (60-22)
  2. Minnesota Timberwolves (55-27)
  3. Denver Nuggets (54-28)
  4. Memphis Grizzlies (50-32)
  5. Phoenix Suns (49-33)
  6. Golden State Warriors (48-34)
  7. New Orleans Pelicans (47-35)
  8. Dallas Mavericks (45-37)
  9. Los Angeles Lakers (40-42)
  10. Portland Trail Blazers (32-50)
  11. Sacramento Kings (30-52)
  12. Utah Jazz (27-55)
  13. Oklahoma City Thunder (26-56)
  14. San Antonio Spurs (25-57)
  15. Houston Rockets (23-59)

Feel free to call me a moron in the comments. I don’t care because THE NBA IS BACK, BABY!

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