It appears as though we are finally done with major transactions in the NBA this offseason, and as such, we can actually look ahead to the 2019-20 NBA season and project how teams will do.
Oddsmakers have begun to release their season win total futures to the public, starting with BetOnline. More recently, Caesars offered up their win totals for those that prefer to put money down in Las Vegas rather than offshore.
NBA Season wins now available … Must play 81 games for action pic.twitter.com/ziwVvAzFTs
— Jeff Davis (@The_Junkyard) July 25, 2019
Betting activity at BOL has moved some of those lines, but there are some significant discrepancies between a few of the lines posted there and at Caesars. As such, it is my duty to remind you that when possible, shop lines to find the best possible number and also to see where there may be and edge at a certain sportsbook. For example, the Atlanta Hawks have a 32.5 number at BOL but are all the way at 36 at Caesars. Whichever way you lean on the Hawks, you can find a more favorable number depending on where you go (we’ll get to my pick there in a second).
With that in mind, here are my favorite bets available right now for those of you with the itch to get down some NBA futures in late July. Each pick will come with a Caesars or BOL designation, depending on where the best number is.
Atlanta Hawks UNDER 36 Wins (Caesars)
The Hawks are a fun and exciting team that came on pretty strong to end the 2018-19 campaign, but this is still a squad that only won 29 games a year ago and lost three of their best best players. Dewayne Dedmon was quietly spectacular for the Hawks at both ends, and replacing his impact at the center position will be difficult with who is currently on the roster. Moving Taurean Prince was the right move long-term, but, for all his faults, he was an excellent spot-up shooter. Kent Bazemore was a steadying veteran presence on the wing, even if an overpaid one. They replaced those players with Evan Turner (who is going to play backup point guard), Allen Crabbe, rookies De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish, and Damian Jones, who will backup Alex Len.
That’s not exactly the type of thing that, even projecting growth from Trae Young, John Collins, and Kevin Huerter, would indicate this team is ready to win eight more games than a year ago to eclipse this number. Expect the Hawks to once again be fun and exciting but also look very young at times and have serious struggles defensively. The future is bright in Atlanta, but it’s going to take some time for that to produce a playoff contender. The Hawks are committed to the process and I think fans and apparently the oddsmakers at Caesars have jumped a bit ahead of schedule here. The 32.5 number at BOL feels close to right, but 36 is just too high.
Dallas Mavericks UNDER 41.5 Wins (BOL)
As their roster stands now, I just don’t see Dallas as a real playoff contender in the West. They will be better than a year ago, when they won 33 games, and I think the Doncic-Porzingis pairing, health-pending for Kristaps, can be spectacular. However, like the Hawks, I think we may be jumping the gun just a tad on the upward trajectory of this team, asking them to be nine games better than a year ago in a Western Conference that is going to be absolutely brutal.
Outside of getting Porzingis to sign a max as an RFA, they didn’t land the type of free agent they wanted this summer, even of they did a solid job filling the roster in with holdovers and pieces like Delon Wright. I just think this is one of the teams that gets hurt the most by the arms race in the West next year and, despite being good and competitive, is more likely to finish the season in the 30s in wins than above .500.
Detroit Pistons OVER 37.5 Wins (Caesars and BOL)
Let’s get something positive on here and take the Pistons to go over their projected total. This is a team that won 41 games a year ago and Blake Griffin should be back and fully healthy for the start of camp after arthroscopic knee surgery in April to fix the issue that gave him problems to end the year. Griffin was sensational a year ago and I think the Pistons had a perfectly fine summer. I’m not totally sold on Derrick Rose being “back” as some think he is, but he’s an effective backup point guard and Markieff Morris can give them some needed depth at the 3/4 spot. I expect this team to be in the same spot as last year, battling for a playoff spot in the East and floating around .500.
Houston Rockets OVER 52 Wins (Caesars)
In the three seasons with Mike D’Antoni at the helm, the Rockets have won 55, 65, and 53 games. I know there are questions about the fit between James Harden and Russell Westbrook, but there’s also reason to believe it can work, at least offensively. This is a team that won 53 games a year ago despite being an abject disaster for the first two months, and while there may be some growing pains I don’t expect them to get off to as rough a start.
I know the West is crowded at the top, but I think the floor for this team is 50 wins. That’d be a loser, but the margin is so tight that I just think there’s value in taking them to go over and finish near 55 wins again with a top-4 seed in the West. It also helps that Houston has been open about how it values having home-court advantage in the postseason, so barring that mentality changing, it’s safe to assume they’ll place an emphasis on winning as many regular season games as possible.
Indiana Pacers UNDER 48.5 Wins (BOL +105)
The Pacers upgraded their point guard and downgraded their wing and a year after winning 48 games. I just don’t know if I see them improving on that. What Nate McMillan has done in Indiana has been great and I think adding Malcolm Brogdon is a significant upgrade in the backcourt, but losing Bojan Bogdanovic and replacing him with T.J. Warren and Jeremy Lamb is a step backward. The frontcourt rotation remains a mess until they figure out how to get Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner to work together.
Winning 48 games with Victor Oladipo only playing 36 was unbelievable a year ago, and I understand that the East isn’t that strong outside of Milwaukee and Philly, but this still feels a bit steep. We don’t know when Oladipo will come back and how effective he’ll early in his return, and I just think there will be some stagnation in Indy for a team that’s still all but a lock for solid playoff spot.
Oklahoma City Thunder OVER 28 Wins (Caesars)
I think this is my favorite bet on the board at 28 (it’s 32.5 at BOL). I get expecting a big drop off in OKC, as the Thunder traded away their two best players, but if Chris Paul does indeed play out the year, they’re going to be a 35-win team. Danilo Gallinari was the best player on the Clippers last year and health pending — as is always the case with him — this remains a pretty good team. I’m not sure they are going to be a contender to be a playoff squad if they stay together, but this team should cruise to over 28 wins and I even like the value if you think Paul and Gallo get traded at the deadline.
Orlando Magic UNDER 41.5 Wins (BOL)
If you read this column last year, you know that I gave out the Magic Under to disastrous results. I’m back on the horse this year and willing to put my cold hard cash on the line that Orlando will not replicate last season again. They chose to run it back this summer, which seems a bit foolhardy given how just about every major contributor a year ago posted a career-year. I believe we’re due for some regression from those guys and while the Magic won’t be awful, I think they find their way into the mid-to-high 30s, but not to above .500 like a year ago.
Philadelphia 76ers OVER 53.5 Wins (BOL -105)
Someone has to win lots of games in the East, and by most projections, the Bucks and Sixers are going to be the teams that feast. There are certainly some questions about whether they have enough shooters on the roster, but in the regular season, this is a team that should steamroll most squads in the East. I think they’re headed for an above 55-win year thanks to the gap between them and the next six playoff teams in the conference.
Portland Trail Blazers UNDER 47.5 Wins (Caesars)
Last year I thought the oddsmakers were way too low on Portland, which turned out to be right. This year, I think this number indicates they’re buying in too much. Portland always plays hard in the regular season, which makes them fun to take the Over on, but only when the number is placed closer to .500. At 47.5 in this Western Conference, I have my concerns for regression for the Blazers.
They lost some key pieces, replaced them with some guys I’m not especially high on (hello, Hassan Whiteside), and I think of all the teams near the top of the West most likely to take a fairly significant hit in terms of regular season wins due to the increase in competitiveness, it’s Portland. Dame and C.J. are spectacular, but this supporting cast isn’t as good as last year’s in my opinion and I expect that to yield a fairly significant drop off.