September 15, 2017, 11:14 am
Updated April 12, 2018: It looks like I went 16-8 and 48-29 based on units. There was a typo on the image but as you can see I took the Raptors over, and the interesting thing is that when I got to Reno I got Kings +26.5 so I hit that but I would end up losing on tickets in Reno like Boston -54, but hitting on these numbers that came from Westgate early on.
I love over/under betting on season win totals. It’s one of the pure forms of prediction even if it can go haywire any number of ways, just like any other bet.
Last year I ran a 6-4 record even with the Kings and Dave Joerger deciding to let Matt Barnes fart all over the basketball court in a decade’s-worst performance as they lost 500 close games on the backs of brutal decision-making and the like.
I lost that Kings bet a year after pushing another ‘gimme’ bet on them the year before, if only semi-reasonable basketball decisions could have been a thing (Rondo getting benched early and often and George ‘IDGAF’ Karl getting the boot), so I’m licking my wounds there. Will I go to the well again? You’ll have to see.
I’m getting ready for my annual trip to sweet, sweet Reno and I figured hey why not what the hell let’s put these picks out here and try to bet on a whole bunch more. Because as we all know, the more you bet the more you win. #PrayForBruski
Note: This is a five-star system and you’re making amusement-only bets accordingly. Five is five times more units than one.
One Star Plays
Atlanta Hawks (UNDER 25.5): They’re a Dennis Schroder injury from being an under-20 win team and their big man talent/depth is terrible.
Brooklyn Nets (UNDER 26.5): Asking them to win seven more games than last season is a lot and they have massive problems in the frontcourt.
Los Angeles Clippers (UNDER 44.5): DeAndre Jordan is going to be hard-pressed to not show serious decline as an offensive player without Chris Paul – and I’m a pretty big fan of the improvement he has made in the post. Mixing all sorts of new pieces, injury risks everywhere. If they’re very healthy I think they go over but that’s not a lot to hang a hat on.
New York Knicks (UNDER 30.5): So much could go wrong for this team in the off-court sense, the tanking sense and even if they stay healthy and happy they have serious deficiencies at point guard.
Two Star Plays
Denver Nuggets (OVER 45.5): Denver won 40 games last year, removed one of the ill-fitting pieces in Danilo Gallinari and added a perfect piece in Paul Millsap. They should have won more games last year but lost a ton of close ones, and though it’s a big jump they’re ready for it.
Indiana Pacers (OVER 31.5): The Pacers have a good betting mixture here – the departure of Paul George overshadowing the accumulation of some good but not great vets. Darren Collison, Victor Oladipo, Cory Joseph, Bojan Bogdanovic, Thad Young and upside guy Myles Turner. It’s not a lot of wins to get in a soft Eastern Conference.
Oklahoma City Thunder (UNDER 50.5): So much can go wrong here if things spin out of control with either Russell Westbrook or Paul George. But even if they don’t, the team’s overall depth and talent level doesn’t scream 50-win team and it will probably take a while for Westbrook and George to figure things out – if they figure things out.
Washington Wizards (UNDER 48.0): The Wizards did just about everything right last year, did not suffer any real injuries and they won just 49 games.
Three Star Plays
Dallas Mavericks (UNDER 35.5): I have lost to the Mavs and Rick Carlisle here a number of times, but Father Time knows no losses. Dirk will be Dirk for however long he will be Dirk and the group of Wes Matthews, Harrison Barnes, Nerlens Noel and Dennis Smith isn’t chopped liver. They have some quality vets to go with decent young players. Everybody pulls in the same direction.
But their overall depth is not good and this season will be about whatever Dirk and the Mavs decides it’s about. Pushing through 82 games, or better put, pushing through March to get eliminated from the playoff chase early is probably not their top goal. Even if they stay healthy, it’s fair to wonder if they can top this mark in a tough Western Conference.
Sacramento Kings (OVER 28.5): This one is tough but I actually have grown to like the over, which will probably cause some Kings fans to groan and/or laugh at me. Yes, it’s true that anything can happen with the Kings because they’re the #Kangz and those that bet on dysfunction got it over the last two seasons.
That said, if correct basketball decisions were being made, they crush the over in both of those seasons. Rajon Rondo got full control of the team while being demonstrably terrible and a litmus test for basketball intelligence. DeMarcus Cousins being given liberty to flop around at the shooting guard position in lieu of racking up fouls on opponents, and Matt Barnes turning in a heavy-minute, ‘over’ destroying campaign are just things smart basketball organizations don’t do.
Now, though, so much pressure to acquiesce to bad basketball decision making has been released after the trade of Cousins. The Kings will get credit for a turnaround when we see it. But the immediate pressure to do dumb stuff is almost non-existent unless we want to count the likelihood the team goes with Buddy Hield too much or hypes him up too much in order to sell the Cousins trade.
Joerger might not play the rookies as much as he should or run a system that highlights their development, but that’s probably a net-win for the total here. Mostly, though, the group of players is pretty good. George Hill, Garrett Temple, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Zach Randolph paired with the team’s assortment of unique talents – without the drama or bad basketball IQ stuff being heaped upon them as it has been in past seasons – is a situation that can work.
They won 33 and 32 games in the past two years while wasting Cousins’ talents, utilizing worst-case scenario game plans, struggling with evaluations and flubbing the execution. I’m going to give these guys 35 wins and seeing them win more if those vets stay healthy would not be surprising at all.
Utah Jazz (OVER 40.5): Ricky Rubio swapping in for George Hill is mostly a wash and Rudy Gobert is a great match with him defensively, playing into Rubio’s strengths as a gambler and passing lane guy while Gobert can cover for his lateral quickness deficiencies. The loss of Gordon Hayward is being overrated for this 51-win team last season, as the team has a great coach, continuity and just enough talent to win games they’re supposed to win and sneak up on some folks, too.
Four Star Plays
Boston Celtics (UNDER 55.5): This team might not have improved after a 53-win campaign but the public is pushing this number up big-time. Factor in the time needed for these players to mesh and question marks about whether the young guys can step up – and 55.5 wins is a daunting task.
Cleveland Cavaliers (OVER 53.5): Yes, LeBron could get all weird and this could go south, but he usually waits to get weird late in the playoffs if he’s going to change addresses. The additions of Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder are exactly what this squad needed on levels of talent, defense in the case of Crowder and overall toughness. LeBron is going to love playing with those guys and they now have a well-rounded squad that will be playing with a chip on its shoulder.
Los Angeles Lakers (UNDER 32.5): Even if the whole damn team plays well individually expecting them to come together and win games in a tough Western Conference is the most public bet I’ve seen in a while.
Memphis Grizzlies (UNDER 37.5): I love what David Fizdale is doing there but should Mike Conley or Marc Gasol push through any sort of injury this season? Not if they and/or the team are smart and beyond that their depth and injury risk is a major mess. Add in talk of potential ownership change from Robert Pera to the minority owners they’ll have a hard time keeping pace in the Western Conference.
Minnesota Timberwolves (UNDER 48.5): The Wolves went way under last season and yes the additions of Jeff Teague and Jimmy Butler are a big deal, as is the push to bring better depth to the table via flawed but valuable vets like Jamal Crawford and Dante Cunningham. The kids will play better this season, but questions remain about whether Thibs can coach offense. Asking this squad to win 18 more games than they did last season is a massive ask.
New Orleans Pelicans (UNDER 39.5): If you didn’t watch the Kings under Rajon Rondo, you probably listened to some folks that don’t know basketball say that he had a great season and that DeMarcus Cousins played better with him. It was a shit show of the highest order.
Rondo’s offensive game is limited and he loves the pick-and-pop, feeding Cousins one of his biggest Kryptonite plays which is the Mackey Sasser triple-pump fake starting at the long two and ending up in a flailing fall to the ground after a drive and then 4-on-5 the other way.
Aside from Rondo-related hilarity, the Pellies showed zero commitment to forcing Cousins into playing a smart interior game last season, while letting him play the shooting guard game that has crippled his career. The issues with personnel and fit are glaring, as is the lack of depth and uncertainty surrounding the organization at almost every level concerning the future, Cousins, Anthony Davis and Alvin Gentry. This team has a terrible history of staying healthy and they play in the West.
Orlando Magic (OVER 33.5): The Magic saw a good push out of Elfrid Payton late in the year and they bring continuity to the table this season under a good coach in Frank Vogel. Getting Aaron Gordon back into the power forward position is going to help them greatly, and the additions of Jonathon Simmons and Jonathan Isaac are net plusses over last season’s loss of Serge Ibaka.
They don’t have to be that good to get 34 wins in a bad Eastern Conference and they ran off 29 last year with a bad formula in the frontcourt. They are also hungry to show growth and tanking isn’t going to be an immediate M.O.
Philadelphia Sixers (UNDER 40.5): Sticking two rookies in Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons, who both need the ball, and the latter of which has a major shooting issue to overcome – next to a center who thinks he’s a point guard in Joel Embiid is going to be fun. They have pieces to mitigate that mess in J.J. Redick and Robert Covington, and Richaun Holmes and other young players are a nice touch. But this team has all sorts of injury risk and the big pieces have zero experience winning at the NBA level.
Portland Trail Blazers (OVER 42.5): The Blazers won 41 games last year in a disappointing season and they found something solid at the end of last year with Jusuf Nurkic. They also got rid of an excess piece in Allen Crabbe and that should allow Evan Turner to be a bit more effective.
They have continuity with this group and a good coach in Terry Stotts. Though a lot of good players headed West there are still a lot of bad teams for this squad to beat around the league and the key guys are all hungry.
Five Star Plays
Golden State Warriors (OVER 67.5): This team could suffer a major injury to one of the Big Four and they still go over. The scariest part of the squad – aside from the fact they now have a year of playing with each other under their belts – is that they added quality depth. Whether they want to or not they’ll be dealing with the NBA record for wins in a season.
Miami Heat (OVER 43.5): The Heat are outside contenders for the Finals and this is a well-above average basketball team in the East. They’re deep with quality players, well coached, they have experience playing with other and they’re among the teams that pseudo experts continuously sleep on.
Phoenix Suns (UNDER 28.5): This team hasn’t been shopping for free agents, they’re already shallow, I wonder how much ownership wants to be there and the GM/coach combo are going to quickly be on the ropes. I like the players individually and in a vacuum but even if they all do well they have no idea how to win. This stacks up as another developmental season and one that could see Eric Bledsoe get traded. Devin Booker still hasn’t shown he can make other players better.
Toronto Raptors (OVER 48.5): Masai Ujiri spent big on a two-year bet to make a run at a wounded Eastern Conference and they’ll be gunning for seeding and respect. Losing P.J. Tucker hurts but having a core of Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka demands that respect in the East.
Jonas Valanciunas has been there for a while and they have good continuity in general. They’re a little light at small forward and the depth in the frontcourt has some flaws, but this is basically the same team that won 51 games last year and they’re more likely to improve than get worse.