When Kevin Durant shocked the basketball world and signed with the Golden State Warriors in free agency this summer, you knew it was going to cause a lot of things to short-circuit. Those ripple effects are starting to be felt, particularly in Vegas where the odds-makers are tasked each year with projecting win totals for professional sports teams in the coming season.
Given the latest numbers, the aforementioned Warriors have fared pretty well, to say the least. According to David Purdum of ESPN.com, Westgate SuperBook has projected Golden State to win 66.5 games in the 2016-2017 season, a full 10 more games than the defending champion Cavs and the 67-win Spurs from last season, whose win totals are both set at 56.5.
The 10-win gap between the Warriors and the other elite teams, Cleveland and San Antonio, is unusual, [odds-maker Jeff] Sherman said. In past seasons, the elite teams had opening win totals in the range of 61.5, with the next tier of contenders listed in the high 50s. In addition to the Cavaliers and Spurs, only two other teams — the LA Clippers (53.5) and Boston Celtics (51.5) — opened with win totals greater than 50.
“It’s really an outlier for the Warriors to be as separated as they are,” Sherman said.
It shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. The Warriors won a record 73 games last season before adding arguably the No. 2 player in the world. And at the very least, Vegas’ current win total projection has stayed within the realm of reality, unlike one hysterical front office simulation that had Golden State racking up an impossible 83 wins next year.