I’ve been having so much success with Football gambling, but for this article I am going to be doing a full breakdown on NBA season win totals. If you would like to debate me on these picks please feel free to tweet me, my twitter is @mikerothou
Note: The win projections I list at the end of each teams write up are coming from a computer formula by Jacob Goldstein that he posted on bball-index.com Jacob is awesome and you should follow him.
Atlanta 23.5 wins: Under
the Hawks are going to struggle, and despite having the lowest win total on the board I’m still going under. The Hawks are trying to recreate the Warriors backcourt combo with Trae Young and Kevin Huerter, I was higher on both of these players than consensus, but that is more a long term value play for me. The problem with the Hawks is the lack of experienced players with valuable NBA experience, the only guys in their roster that fit this are Jeremy Lin, Taurean Prince, and John Collins. Another concern that I have with the Hawks is that they hired Lloyd Pierce, and that is a major downgrade from Mike Budenholzer. Budenholzer tried to win as many games as possible and the Hawks still had a -5.31 adjusted net rating, which was 26’th in the league. The final reason for an under pick is that they will be tanking to try and get a top three pick in the 2019 draft. Their win projection is 27.2.
Boston 58.5 wins: Stay away
Boston looks on paper like the best team in the East according to many, and without Lebron and adding in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward to a team that went to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals is impressive. I also expect the Celtics to actually care about the regular season, but I just cannot take the over with this team because I’m concerned that Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving take a semi long period of time to adjust to playing with the rest of the roster. There is also a chance that Brad Stevens tries to play around with closing lineups and is doing more playoff prep work than focusing on winning as many regular season games as possible. Their win projection is 55.0 wins
Brooklyn 32 wins: Stay away
I really wanted to take an over with the Nets this season, and there is so much reason for optimism for the first time in a long time. The Nets actually have a decent amount of not bad NBA players, this includes, Jarrett Allen, Allen Crabbe, Spencer Dinwiddie, Ed Davis, Rondae Hollis Jefferson, Caris Levert, Shabazz Napier, and D’Angelo Russell. The Nets will actually field a very competent NBA team for the first time since the downfall of the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trade, and if they trade for Jimmy Butler they instantly become a playoff team, however this scenario seems unlikely at the time of writing. I am staying away from an over because this is the first time in a long time that the Nets have their first round pick, and I think GM Sean Marks could want to tank and get as good of a prospect as possible, despite the 2019 draft class appearing weaker than usual. Brooklyn has a win projection of 32.0 wins.
Charlotte 35.5 wins: Stay away
Kemba Walker is very good at basketball and some people just don’t realize this. The Charlotte Hornets are going to be very outmanned at the wing position, with their starting wings being Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marvin Williams, while Miles Bridges could be an impact rookie, I don’t see him making enough of a difference this season. I am a big Cody Zeller fan, and with Dwight Howard gone, I could see him flourish in a starting role. I would lean over if I was guaranteed 70+ games from Kemba Walker this season, but with injury potential and a trade that would allow the Hornets to bottom out forces me to stay away. Win projection is 40.5.
Chicago 29.5 wins: Under
The Bulls are going to be absolutely terrible defensively. Just imagining a lineup with Zach Lavine and Jabari Parker together isn’t a good start, combine that with Lauri Markkanen and Robin Lopez starting together and this team will be a disaster on the defensive end besides Kris Dunn. Dunn also creates his own problems because of his lack of a jump shot, creating some spacing problems. Cameron Payne is also their backup point guard and the thought of him starting at PG in the NBA makes me laugh. I honestly just feel so bad that Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter have to deal with this roster, and the ineptness of the Bulls front office is even more impressive when you look at their solid draft picks the last two years. Bulls win projection is 29.7.
Cleveland 30.5 wins: Stay away
Lebron is gone and this roster isn’t good anymore, well duh. I’m hesitant on taking a stance on this Cavs team just because of Dan Gilbert’s refusal to bottom out, if I was in control of the Cavs I would’ve instantly tanked after Lebron left because this core is going absolutely nowhere. Kevin Love is a solid player, and it’s nice that the Cavs gave him such a juicy contract for his loyalty and part in a championship, but the contract is horrible for the Cavs. Love is entering his age 30 season, and the decline will continue to come for the once dominant force. I also hate the backcourt that the Cavs will play this season, Collin Sexton will struggle as a rookie, George Hill probably doesn’t want to play for a non playoff team, and JR Smith could just stop giving a shit this season. The Cavs roster is probably a low 30 win team, but without a ceiling much higher than that I could see the wheels completely falling off midseason. Win projection is 32.5 wins.
Dallas 34 wins: Over
Dallas is trying to contend, and by adding Luka Doncic and Deandre Jordan they are proving their commitment to making the playoffs for Dirk’s last season. Dennis Smith JR should make a big improvement in his second season in the NBA. Harrison Barnes and Wes Matthews provides a stable core of experienced scorers for the young guys to work with. Rick Carlisle is also one of the best coaches in the league and should do wonders for a team looking to improve from a 24’th ranked adjusted offensive efficiency ranking from last season. Projected win total is 32.6.
Denver 47.5 wins: Over
This is one of my favorite picks on the board as I believe very strongly in the Nuggets offense. Nikola Jokic is an elite offensive center, and when you combine that with a backcourt of Jamal Murray and Gary Harris, the Nuggets will be one of the most potent offenses in the league. Denver also returns Paul Millsap who is coming off a fairly serious injury that stinted the development of this offense. If Denver is going to finish below this win total I’d expect their defense lets them down and doesn’t get better than their 24’th adjust defensive efficiency rating from last season, or Nikola Jokic gets seriously injured. The projected win total is 50.2.
Detroit 39 wins: Stay away
I’m really not sure what to expect from Detroit besides the fact that I expect them to be scary average this season. Detroit has a solid frontcourt, Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin is a solid pairing offensively and not a total disaster defensively. The guards are the major problem with the Pistons, starting two Reggies isn’t exactly ideal, and Luke Kennard could be pushing his way to the starting lineup if he continues to shoot like he did throughout his rookie season. Projected win total is 41.6.
Golden State 63.5 wins: Stay away
The Warriors could win 70 games this season if they really wanted to, but they aren’t going to. This is why taking a stance on the Warriors season win total is so risky, I think the Warriors will want to make all of their younger pieces fit into the culture and step into bigger roles this regular season. Demarcus Cousins also throws a wrench in projecting a win total because as individually talented he is, he is going to take a very long time getting back to 100%. Cousins is also known for turnovers, something that will not fly in Golden States system, he is also a defensive liability, but compared to Jordan Bell and Damian Jones isn’t much of a drop off, if any at all. Once again, if the Warriors want to get over this win total and secure the first seed in the West by March, they could, but I doubt that scenario comes true this year. Win projection is 64.2.
Houston 55.5 wins: Over
The Rockets were the best regular season team in the league last season, and despite losing Luc Richard Mbah A Moute, and some other depth pieces from their bench, this team isn’t ten wins worse than last season. The Rockets are also players for making an improvement during the trade deadline and the Rockets I know care about the regular season. If James Harden and Chris Paul are both healthy there will be hardly ever any time during the regular season that the Rockets don’t have an elite guard handling all playmaking responsibilities. If Houston can stay healthy they should compete for the top seed in the Western conference once again this season. Win projection is 55.9.
Indiana 47.5 wins: Stay away
The Pacers had an incredible offseason, adding much needed depth to a team that surprised everyone and won 48 games last season. This would imply that I would like an over for their season win total, but I’m staying away. The Pacers had ridiculous luck last season against wide open three point shots, and if they were league average they would likely have lost a couple more games than they actually did. The Pacers also played very hard last regular season and I think took some teams by surprise by how hard and fundamental they played last season. Victor Oladipo became a true superstar last season, and if he takes any more steps forward he could start for the eastern conference in the all star game. The Pacers also had the 13’th best adjusted net rating, which was lower than four teams that won less games than they did. Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis are both exceptional switching defensive big men, but this skill is more valuable during the playoffs than the regular season. Indiana also has below average starting PG play with Darren Collison. Considering all of these factors it is just too risky for me to make a true prediction on their win total, but if you forced me to pick one I would take the under. The Pacers win projection is only 43.6.
Los Angeles Clippers 36.5 wins: Stay away
The Clippers have one of the deepest teams in the entire league, but that is because they have literally no star power. Danilo Gallinari and Tobias Harris might be their best players, and in the western conference that is a major problem. The Clippers do have one of the best benches in the league, with Shai, Lou Williams, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and Montrezl Harrell. (Shh, but I think Harrell should start over Gortat, he’s better at contributing to winning basketball) The Clippers could make a trade to elevate their status in the league, (at the time of typing Jimmy Butler is an angry Timberwolve) and if the Clippers get some star power, going over this win total should be pretty likely. I’m also interested in seeing what the future holds for Milos Teodosic, Jerome Robinson, and Boban. All of these players have some sort of potential but little room for minutes on this roster right now. It makes sense for the Clippers to try and make a run, and getting off of a Gallinari contract would be a very wise move, getting a star would also make them more attractive to potential free agents. Clippers win projection is 34.7.
Los Angeles Lakers 48.5 wins: Stay away
I know many basketball analytic guys who love the Lakers under this season, but Lebron going under 50 wins isn’t a bet that I am comfortable making. This Lakers roster has been vastly overrated on the surrounding talent with Lebron, many of the veterans that the Lakers signed this offseason cannot play defense and many don’t have a high basketball IQ or are able to space the floor. The Lakers young pieces are some of the most polarizing players in the NBA, and I have some hot takes about their young core. I believe Lonzo Ball is the second best player on the Lakers and is by far the best prospect that the Lakers have. I thought Julius Randle was a piece that would be crucial to a future Lakers core, he is such a perfect modern big man and losing him will be a major loss to the Lakers frontcourt switchability and rebounding. I think Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart are pretty comparable prospects, and that is me being higher on Hart than most and lower on Ingram. I’m very worried about Ingram developing strength and his ability to play off ball with Lebron on his team. Josh Hart is somebody who should flourish with Lebron, his floor spacing and off ball movement will shine in the Lakers offense. Finally, we arrive at Kyle Kuzma who is going to be a major problem for the Lakers if he plays a big role this season. Kuzma is one of the worst wing defenders in the league and his inefficient scoring is not needed on this team. If Kuzma can accept a lesser scoring role and take better shots he can become a net neutral. Overall I think the Lakers are going to need Lebron to be superhuman to go over this win total and see growth from Lonzo, Hart, and Ingram. I’d love to take the under on this team but just cannot faithfully bet against Lebron James in a scenario like this. Win projection is 43.2.
Memphis 33.5 wins: Stay away
If Mike Conley and Marc Gasol play 135 or more games this season, I see a very good chance that the Grizzlies make a potential playoff run this season, however betting on those two guys to be healthy and play all season in Memphis is a tough bet to make. The Grizzlies also added two huge pieces in the offseason, Jaren Jackson Jr is a future all star and was the second best player in the draft in my opinion. Kyle Anderson was also an underrated part to the Spurs success the past couple seasons and his advanced stats are absolutely flawless, he simply makes his teams better when he’s on the court. The only reason I shy away from going all in on an over bet is that this win total is suggesting a 12 win improvement which seems a tad optimistic for this group. Projection is 32.8 wins.
Miami 42.5 wins: Stay away
If Miami is able to get Jimmy Butler I think this would be an easy over pick, but without him I would lean towards an under. I really like a lot of what Miami is building, but starting Dwyane Wade and Hassan Whiteside is a major problem for a team with playoff aspirations. If Bam Adebayo players 28-30 min a game at center then I like the over even more, but I find that to be an unlikely proposition. Josh Richardson is awesome but I’m not sure if he’s completely ready to be a number two guy scoring wise, he is an awesome offensive role player who can play exceptional defense, which is so valuable in this modern NBA. The Heat do have one of the better bench wings and bigs, bringing Bam, Olynyk, and Winslow all off the bench, three guys who can all contribute to winning basketball. Win projection is 39.4.
Milwaukee 47 wins: Over
Mike Budenholzer is going to absolutely revolutionize basketball in Milwaukee this season. The Bucks have gone from taking 56% of their shots inside the paint or from three point range last season, to 82% this preseason. Adopting the moreyball strategy will completely change everything around Giannis and allow him to fully adopt his potential. The Bucks added Brook Lopez and his spacing will help the starting lineup offensively, but the Bucks will lack much bench production this season. The Bucks bench right now consists of Donte Divincenzo, Delly, Pat Connaughton, Tony Snell, Ersan Ilyasova, John Henson, Sterling Brown, Dj Wilson, and Thon Maker. Yuck. Bucks season win projection is 43.5.
Minnesota 41 wins: Stay away
The whole Jimmy Butler situation makes this prop impossible. I know many people would like to put this team as an under lock but I’m going to make the case that you should not jump to this conclusion, despite really wanting to take it. The Timberwolves were on pace for home court advantage before Butler got hurt last season, Karl Anthony Towns is one of the best offensive centers for his age and could continue to set records for his age and height. Tyus Jones is a very capable backup point guard, and if he takes Derrick Rose’s’ minutes the Wolves will be much better. Tom Thibodeau will also try very hard this regular season to try and keep his job, and if they do get a guy like Josh Richardson he could do wonders on this team. Andrew Wiggins is terrible right now and you will hear no argument from me taking the contrary, but maybe he changes his style of basketball. (This idea would probably only come true in some fantasy world that is perfect that we haven’t found yet) Timberwolves win projection is 47.2 right now with Jimmy Butler still listed on the roster.
New Orleans 45.5 wins: Stay away
I really wanted to take the over with the Pelicans but they have a projected win total of five wins less than this listed total, which is a huge red flag. I’m still going to mostly make this a positive opinion of the team despite this fact. I absolutely love what the Pelicans have done with their frontcourt, with Anthony Davis, Julius Randle, and Nikola Mirotic, the Pelicans should have versatility from their bigs. This will allow their wings to have as much success as possible, which is important because the Pelicans do not have talented wings. If Jrue Holiday can stay healthy, he should enjoy a career year. Demarcus Cousins is a big talent loss, but the Pelicans have been better without his turnovers on the floor, and also played most of the second half of the season without him anyway, so adding Randle will just be an addition instead of a replacement. Win projection is 41.6.
New York 29.5 wins: Under
This line is hilarious to me, the Knicks are going to be terrible this season. The team just simply has very little NBA talent without Kristaps and by the time he becomes healthy the Knicks will be eliminated from playoff contention so there would be no point bringing him back. Kevin Knox is going to be one of the most harmful players in the league, which even if you are high on his long term value shouldn’t be surprising to you. Mitchell Robinson was the steal of the draft at pick 36 in the draft, I had Robinson as a lottery talent. A projected opening night starting lineup of Trey Burke, Courtney Lee, Tim Hardaway Jr, Mario Hezonja, and Enes Kanter should be illegal in this league. I expect the Knicks to suck this season, but if they can acquire a top three draft pick and sign Kevin Durant????? It will all be worth it, but the likely situation is that they finish with the fifth pick and fail again to sign a major free agent, sorry Knicks fans welcome back to reality. Win projection is 24.2.
Oklahoma City 48.5 wins: Stay away
The Thunder were looking like one of the best teams in the league before Andre Roberson went down for the season. After the Roberson injury the Thunder defense went from arguably the best in the league, to finishing with the ninth adjusted defensive efficiency in the league. Russell Westbrook is one of the few stars who genuinely cares about the regular season and typically goes 100% every night. Getting rid of Carmelo Anthony will end up being a positive for the Thunder, but Jerami Grant is only a defensive improvement. I’m worried about the floor spacing from the Thunder starters, having Westbrook on the floor with Roberson, Grant, and Adams at once is going to be difficult. Dennis Schroder will be a solid pickup for this season, but they added even more long term money. The Thunder have put themselves in a no win position because the ceiling for this team is likely the second round, but the Thunder have more long term money committed than anyone else in the league and rebuilding and tanking won’t be an option for a couple seasons. The Thunder are going to try and compete and win, but I’m not sure they have enough offensive creators to get to almost 50 wins this regular season. Win projection is 50.0.
Orlando 31 wins: Under
The Magic have one of the weirdest rosters in the league, having plenty of frontcourt talent but likely the worst backcourt in the league. The four guards listed on the team right now are Dj Augustin, Jerian Grant, Evan Fournier, and Terrence Ross. That’s terrible. The Magic also are implying this new strategy where they draft guys who have ridiculously long wingspans and really don’t care about anything else. I’m pretty sure the Magic drafted three of the top five players in the draft last year for wingspan minus height. The Magic do have some talented pieces, but they don’t fit at all together. Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, Mo Bamba, and Jonathan Simmons can all be players who help winning basketball, but playing these guys together just simply doesn’t work offensively. If the Magic trade for some help at the guard position, they have the talent to easily smash the over, but with guard play this terrible and I’m guessing they will tank to end the season, the under is a great value play. Win projection is 31.6.
Philadelphia 54 wins: Stay away
The 76’ers have been a little disrespected this offseason, just like last year. Everyone laughed at their high win total number last season and the 76’ers smashed the over, surprising many experts. This year many are expecting an under again, but I’m staying away. The 76’ers are obviously led by Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, both of these guys are crazy talented but fixing one major flaw in their games could add some huge growth. Simmons should develop some sort of a jump shot to maximize his offensive ceiling, while Embiid needs to cut down on turnovers to improve efficiency. Markelle Fultz is one of the most polarizing players in the league this season, the former number one pick had a very interesting rookie season where it seemed like he forgot how to shoot and battled injuries. Many, including me, are high on Fultz figuring it out, with a triple double at the end of the regular season and many promising videos from Drew Hanlen of Fultz making strides in his jumper. Wilson Chandler will be a nice addition to the wing depth on the team, and pairing him with JJ Redick and Robert Covington will allow the 76’ers to have even more minutes with above replacement level wing play. The 76’ers also return Simmons, Redick, Covington, Saric, and Embiid, that lineup together had the highest net rating in the league of any five man lineup that played over 300 minutes. Win projection is 52.8.
Phoenix 29.5 wins: Under
The Suns believers are absolutely hilarious to me. Devin Booker is one of the most overrated players by the casual fans and he’s one of the worst defenders in the league. Elie Okobo and De’anthony Melton are the top two point guards on the roster at this point, and despite me being very high on Melton as a prospect, he isn’t ready to start for a NBA team this season. Deandre Ayton is a physical freak, but he will struggle playing defense against more talented bigs and switching onto quicker guards. Ryan Anderson and Tj Warren are also projected starters, creating the worst defensive combo at the starting forward positions in the league. I honestly don’t see why people are so high on the Suns this season, unless we all got confused by the 76’ers being really good really soon, they had generational talents and experienced veterans that were still good. The Suns have solid prospects and no real vets that will help them win now. The Suns will likely realize that they aren’t close to competing for the playoffs and tank halfway through the season, if they can take on some bad contracts to help out teams looking to win this season. Win projection is 27.1.
Portland 42 wins: Stay away
I thought I would be going all in on an under for the Trail Blazers this season, but vegas set a very sharp line for their win total. Somehow the Blazers lucked into third seed last season, but they only finished three wins ahead of the nine seed. Damian Lillard and Cj Mccollum will need to stay healthy for this team to go over this win total, however the star guards have done a good job of doing that throughout the careers together. The Blazers simply lack any other difference makers on their roster right now, Nurkic is likely their third best player and he isn’t scaring any opposing team. Portland is due for some massive regression after outperforming their expectations for the past couple seasons, but the win total is right around where I would expect them to finish. Win projection is 40.1.
Sacramento 26 wins: Under
Have you seen the Kings lineups they have used in the preseason. They’re hilarious. When Sacramento played Frank Mason, Marvin Bagley, Harry Giles, Skal Labissiere, and Willie Cauley Stein, it basically was the opposite of everything modern basketball is trying to become. With the amount of skill on an average NBA floor at one time, throwing together a lineup like this is a complete slap in the face to any analytical data of any kind. The Kings are easily the worst team in the league in my opinion, and the only way I think they would go over this win total is if they keep trying all season and end up squeaking past this listed total. The Kings do not have their pick this season, if it ends up first overall the 76’ers would receive it and if it lands anywhere else the Celtics get the pick from the Fultz and Tatum trade. The Kings desire to win is the only thing standing in the way from an easy under, but I’m still taking it because this team is just so bad. Win projection is 21.5 (lowest in the league)
San Antonio 42.5 wins: Under
The Spurs are so unbelievably hurt coming into the season, this season win total under seems like a total lock. I know many people will be confused with taking a season win total under on the Spurs because for every year this century, it seems like they outperform expectations. Gregg Popovich is one of the greatest coaches of all time, but he’s always had talent on the Spurs and this season they have the least talented Spurs roster that he’s coached since the year they Spurs bottomed out to draft Tim Duncan. Many people will claim that the Spurs won 47 games last season and added an all star in Demar Derozan, and while this is true, the Spurs are not the same team from last year. San Antonio will feel the losses of Kyle Anderson, Dejounte Murray, and other pieces from the team last year. Simply put, the Spurs have a roster that has 35 win talent and doesn’t have spacing that fits modern basketball. I think the Spurs massively struggle this season and miss the playoffs. Win projection is 36.1.
Toronto 55.5 wins: Over
This is one of my favorite picks on the board. I am loading up on an over for the Toronto Raptors because I absolutely love this roster. The Raptors led by Masai Ujiri have created an almost perfect roster for modern basketball and I cannot wait to watch this team. The Raptors also got rid of Demar Derozan, who despite being a solid individual talent, the Raptors have been better with him on the bench the past three seasons. A second unit of Fred Van Vleet, Delon Wright, Norman Powell, OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam is terrific defensively, and the Raptors typically do a good job of staggering starters minutes so the offense will never completely suffer. Overall I think the Raptors will dominate this regular season and Kawhi Leonard will love playing with his new teammates and have the top seed in the East entering the playoffs. Win projection is 59.6.
Utah 49.5 wins: Over
Just like the Raptors, this Jazz roster is one of the best in the league and should dominate this regular season. The Jazz won 31 of their final 41 games last season and played at a net rating that would’ve been highest in the league. Utah also possess one of the best home court advantages year to year, this could be due to a high altitude and relatively remote city location for a NBA team. Donovan Mitchell made some massive strides in the playoffs last year and if he keeps up that type of offensive play he could make a run at an all NBA team. Rudy Gobert is one of the best defenders in the league and during the regular season he is unable to be played off the court. His gravity on offense rolling off of screens is elite, and he is one of the best rim protectors in the league. Utah also gained huge experience by winning a first round series over the Thunder and figuring out how to play together in tight situations. Win projection is 55.0.
Washington 44.5 wins: Stay away
The Wizards are always just a complete, total mess; but still figure out some way to win 40 something regular season games. John Wall and Bradley Beal are a solid backcourt combo and they should provide plenty of scoring and offensive creation for the Wizards. Dwight Howard is a super weird signing and despite the fact that I don’t think he will make the Wizards better, he could put up solid counting stats again this year. Otto Porter has become one of the bet 3 and D wings in the league, becoming one of the best corner three point shooters. The Wizards bench is terrible, with Kelly Oubre being the only above average bench player. If the Wizards don’t completely fall apart they should win over 45 games, however there is so much drama every season with the Wizards that I cannot take the over. Win projection is 44.7.
Those are my thoughts on every NBA season win total, let me know what you thought about my picks and what picks you would make.