Every year, the good people of Vegas put out projected win totals for all 30 teams. More times than not, the number of wins they project isn’t too far off.
Obviously, it is far from perfect, but it gives a physical number that sets the bar for the season. And while they’re in the back figuring out how many wins the Suns will manage to scrape out, Brad Pitt and George Clooney are robbing them clean.
Trying to pick whether each team will win more or less than the Vegas projections is always a fun game to play at home, which is why I will be doing the very same. Because it’s fun. Let’s start with the Eastern Conference.
Atlanta Hawks, 23.5 – UNDER
It’s going to be a long season for Hawks fans, having to watch this team night in and night out will take some serious dedication. While Trae Young will certainly draw attention, there is not another big name on the team. I mean Vince Carter will be 42 come January, so he doesn’t really count anymore.
Young is very intriguing to me; if I were a Hawks fan, I’d tune in just to see how he performs. Maybe that’s what the front office was thinking when they traded Luka Doncic for Young. I guess the in-arena barbershop can’t rake in money when 300 people show up to games. Oh well, let the R.J. Barrett sweepstakes officially begin!
Boston Celtics, 57.5 – UNDER
Don’t get me wrong, I think the Celtics will have an amazing year; they sure did last year and they were missing their two best players for nearly the whole season! Jayson Tatum is almost a lock for an All-Star spot this year, and if Hayward and Irving can stay healthy, this team is poised for a Finals appearance. But 58 wins is hard! That’s a lot of wins! Yes they won 55 last year without Hayward and Irving, and yes, Tatum will improve, and yes the East is worse than ever… okay, I changed my mind. Over.
Brooklyn Nets, 32.5 – UNDER
The Nets a had quietly good summer. They traded Jeremy Lin and his $12 million contract to Atlanta, which will free up more playing time for Spencer Dinwiddie, who is likely to serve as the backup to D’Angelo Russell, but start when Russell gets injured in game 12.
Trading for Kenneth Faried was a nice move. He was virtually locked to the Nuggets bench, and a high energy guy with an endless motor is always a good thing. Plus the Nets set a record for most dreadlocks on a team with him and DeMarre Carroll. The Nets are slowly escaping from the Billy King era, but they still lack enough talent to put up 33 wins.
Charlotte Hornets, 35.5 – UNDER
The Hornets won 36 games each of the last two years, which is right around where I see them finishing. Probably right around 35. That to me is a realistic number. It’s hard to imagine a team with no offensive threats besides Kemba Walker winning 37-40 games.
Speaking of Walker, with Kemba about to hit free agency after this season, the Hornets could very well trade him midway through the year, which would almost guarantee a poor finish. If Kemba sticks around, then maybe they squeeze out 36 wins? But with the Hornets stuck in the middle of the lottery, and few building blocks for the future, a trade for Kemba come February seems imminent.
Chicago Bulls, 27.5 – UNDER
This team will give up 130 points per game. Okay, maybe not that many, but if you’re scrolling through box scores and you see, BOS 142 – CHI 103 you wouldn’t be surprised. I sure won’t.
Here’s a quote from the newly signed, Jabari Parker when asked if he could be a good defender. “Well, I don’t know”. Wait, it gets better. He goes on to say, “They don’t pay players to play defense… They pay people to score the ball, and I would hope that somebody scores the ball on me if they paid them that much.” Nobody shows this to Gary Payton or else he’ll faint on the spot. But really, that’s all you need to know. A starting lineup that includes Parker, Zach LaVine, and Lauri Markkanen doesn’t bode well.
Wendell Carter Jr, is a good shot blocker, with lots of defensive potentials, but rookies generally have a tough time on the defensive end. Especially considering he came from playing zone all last year for Coach K. Offensively, they’ll be good. But the Warriors might drop 200 on them.
Cleveland Cavaliers, 30.5 – OVER
We all made fun of the Cavs last year for being awful without LeBron. And while the rest of them had no business making the Finals, they still should win more than 30 games. We haven’t seen Kevin Love as ‘the guy’ since coming to Cleveland, and if he can retain his Timberwolves self, then the Cavs will have a top 5 power forward in the league. In his last four years in Minnesota, he averaged 24 and 14 on 45/37/81 shooting. Those are All-NBA numbers. If Love is providing you with an efficient 24/14, then the Cavs have a clear go-to superstar.
Collin Sexton will add defense, speed, and energy to a stagnant offensive team, and hopefully Larry Nance Jr. will show improvement.
One of the most genius moves ever was LeBron making the Cavs trade for Nance and Jordan Clarkson (who shot 23% from the field and 0% from three in the Finals) just so he wouldn’t have to play with them this year. Brilliant. Still, the Cavs have enough talent to win at least 31 games. The playoffs may be a stretch, but at least the Indians are pushing for a World Series!
Detroit Pistons, 37.5 – OVER
This one is kind of the opposite of Denver; unlike the Nuggets, I think the Pistons will struggle this year. But 37.5 wins is a bit low. They won 39 last year, and Blake Griffin only played 25 games in a Pistons jersey. For all the criticism Blake receives, he is still a really good player! Yes, he is past his prime but remains effective nonetheless. I would put them at the 38-40 win mark. Is that good enough to make the playoffs in the East? Probably. But if Blake misses significant time, which is very possible, that number will look more like 30.
Indiana Pacers, 47.5 – OVER
The Pacers had a very quiet offseason. The majority of the roster stayed intact, but the few moves they made were good ones. Tyreke Evans, coming off his best season since his rookie year, is an upgrade over Lance Stephenson. Kyle O’Quinn can provide defense, and leadership, while Al Jefferson was glued to the bench last year. Doug McDermott replacing Glenn Robinson is perhaps the only downgrade, but even still, it is so minimal that it won’t cause any harm. In a lesser conference, look for the Pacers to try and make there way into the top tier in the East.
Miami Heat, 41.5 – OVER
This is a close one, but ultimately the Heat are better than a .500 team. Not much better, but around 2-4 wins better. The roster was virtually untouched, giving Erik Spoelstra the same talent he had one year prior, where he lead his squad to a 44 win season. It’s the same team, so expect a similar result.
The Heat will most likely finish towards the bottom of the playoff picture, and hopefully a vintage Dwyane Wade 40-6-8 playoff performance is a result.
Milwaukee Bucks, 46.5 – OVER
The Bucks are perhaps the most versatile, lengthy, switchy team in the league, which is why I see them having a great season. Will Giannis win MVP this year? Possibly. Will Thon Maker prove that he is more than just a part-time ninja who kicks Filipinos? Maybe. Can Khris Middleton become an All-Star? Who knows. These are just some of the toys that Mike Budenholzer will have at his dispense this year, and the possibilities are endless.
Brook Lopez is a great addition, as they finally have a sturdy center that can give you 17-11 a night. Especially in the Bucks’ division, where they play the Pistons, Cavs, and Bulls four times apiece, the Bucks should be able to win 47+ games.
New York Knicks, 29.5 – UNDER
Strap in Knicks fans, and get ready for yet another classic Knicks seasons. While Tim Hardaway Jr. is bathing in a tub full of cash now, Kristaps Porzingis is still rehabbing his torn ACL. The current estimate for a return is around Christmas. The Knicks went 6-21 after Porzingis’ injury last year. So if Porzingis misses the first 30 games (until Christmas), and the Knicks play roughly the same .285 ball they played last year without him, that’ll give them a record of 7-23. The Knicks would have to 23-29 the rest of the way to pass the 29.5 quota. Can they do it? Maybe. But considering they have to play the Celtics, Raptors, and Sixers four times each, probably not. One way or another, I just did a lot of math for you.
Orlando Magic, 31.5 – UNDER
The Magic won 25 games last year; does Vegas really think that Mo Bamba win them seven more games? This team is loaded with big men, almost guaranteeing that Nikola Vucevic will be traded at some point. Hopefully, the Magic can get a point guard in return because Jerian Grant and Isaiah Briscoe are not starting point guards in this league. I mean, they’ll have to be, because the Magic don’t have any other options as of now.
The core of Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, and Bamba is very promising; although it seems very difficult to play all three together. This roster has some future potential, but in the meantime, Magic fans are in for a long season. Don’t feel bad though, they have warm weather year round and are an Uber ride away from Harry Potter world. I hope you lose 80 games.
Philadelphia 76ers, 54.5 – UNDER
This was a tough one, but I decided to go under for two reasons. One, the health is still always sketchy with this team. The rookie curse continued when Zhaire Smith broke his foot before he played a game. Obviously, Smith is not the priority when it comes to being healthy.
If Ben Simmons and/or Joel Embiid miss significant time, then this team will take a major dip. The second reason is that they didn’t have a great offseason. Yeah, they brought back J.J. Redick on another one year deal, but they’re ‘big’ acquisitions were Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t have a GM. My guess would be around 52ish wins.
Toronto Raptors, 54.5 – OVER
Similar to the Spurs, the Raptors won 59 games last year; now replace DeRozan with Kawhi Leonard, and they drop five wins? That makes no sense. This team is scary defensively. With so many long, athletic players like Delon Wright, Pascal Siakam, Danny Green, and not to mention Leonard, the Raptors could have the best defense in the league. They are a serious threat to Boston this year and could win 60 games if everything goes right. Even if everything doesn’t go right, they’re still a 55+ win team.
Washington Wizards, 44.5 – UNDER
While I’m not the biggest believer in the Wizards, I do believe in John Wall. If he’s healthy, then the Wizards should be able to duplicate the 43 wins they had last year. The key word is should, as both Wall and Bradley Beal have had serious injury concerns during there careers. I’m only taking a slight under, as I would guess the Wizards will finish at 43-44 wins once again. But hey, this core of Wall/Beal/Otto Porter is a great spoiler team come playoffs. Who knows what’ll happen.