The NBA offseason is just about halfway over, Summer League has wrapped up and the final few free agents are signing on with teams. With rosters complete and training camp a little more than a month away, it’s finally time to take a peek at over-under win totals. They’re fun bets for obvious reasons, being able to track a team for an entire year. And while oddsmakers have set fairly reasonable totals, there are five that stick out to us as solid over choices.
The Bulls did everything in their power to tank a year ago, so much so that Adam Silver actually told them to play veterans more. Year 1 of the rebuild – and that tanking strategy – netted them the Nos. 7 and 22 picks, which they used on Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison.
They also added the hometown kid in Jabari Parker to a 27-win team from a year ago. The Bulls won 27 games last year despite their top three young players – Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen – missing a combined 104 games.
That won’t be an issue during the 2018-19 season, which should mean a far more improved Bulls team in a weaker Eastern Conference. If all the pieces come together there’s an outside shot this team could compete for a playoff spot. That’s what makes their win total, sitting at 28.5 on 888sport, so perplexing.
Even after they traded Nikola Mirotic they played at a 24-win pace, and their three best players missed more than 40% of the season. They’ll almost certainly be two games better than a year ago, when they were actively trying to lose. This is our favorite over bet.
No team in the NBA has depth like the Celtics, and they certainly needed all of it a year ago. And still, without Gordon Hayward for 81 games and Kyrie Irving for 22 more, the Celtics won 55 games.
In the process Brad Stevens and the Celtics were able to expedite the growth of their young core in Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier. Now those players take a back seat as a healthy Irving and Hayward join Al Horford on a team that looks destined to make the Finals out of the East.
Stevens will have his work cut out for him putting all his pieces in the right place, but it’s a good problem to have. They’ve got the highest win total in the East at 57.5 on 888sport. But the talent and depth they possess screams 60 wins.
The only thing standing in their way (besides health, obviously) is if they choose to rest some players down the stretch because of the lead they have. But Philadelphia and Toronto should keep them honest.
Mike Malone has taken a 30-win team in 2015 and increased its win total each of the last three seasons. Denver, in part because Paul Millsap missed three months, missed the postseason by a single game to the Timberwolves.
That 46-win campaign was nonetheless impressive, and Denver had a fantastic offseason in re-signing Will Barton, drafting a potential steal in Michael Porter Jr. and signing Isaiah Thomas for the league minimum.
Nikola Jokic is a dark horse MVP candidate and the young backcourt of Gary Harris and Jamal Murray is only going to get better. They won 46 games without Millsap in the lineup for 44 games. Their three leading scorers are 23, 24, and 21 years old.
This is a team that will continue to get better from where they were a year ago, even in a tougher West. It’s why we really like them to improve by at least a game and hit their win total over at 46.5.
This franchise is going to break through, sooner than later. Will it happen this year? We’re betting on it. Devin Booker has become the face of a franchise that has averaged 22.6 wins over the last three seasons. Booker believes this 2018 Suns team will make the postseason, and while we won’t go that far we believe they’ll be vastly improved.
They have two top 10 picks, including the first pick in Deandre Ayton. They signed Trevor Ariza to a one-year, show-me deal, quietly added center Richaun Holmes and have SEVEN Lottery picks under the age of 24 years old.
All the pieces need to mesh together, and admittedly they’re in a gauntlet in the West. But 34-35 wins feels attainable given the talent, meaning they should easily hit their over of 29.5 on 888sport.
One day the Blazers are going to get the credit they deserve, and it will be a beautiful thing. In the meantime we get to take advantage of it. Everything went right a year ago and the Blazers won 49 games and they’ll bring just about every piece of their core back.
And yet, their win total is a whopping seven games below where they finished last season. We expect some regression – a 13-game win streak in February and March shot their win total up to 49 – but this is a team led by 27-year-old Damian Lillard and 26-year-old C.J. McCollum. They’re just scratching the surface, and their young core has made strides this offseason.
The Western Conference is difficult, but the Blazers tout one of the best home court advantages in baseball which is usually good for a few wins alone each year. We think they’ll blow past the 42.5 wins they’re set at on 888Sport.com . Lillard and McCollum are too good to have them flirting with .500.