FanDuel has the Boston Celtics with the highest regular-season win total of anyone in the NBA. DraftKings has the Celtics off the board.
FanDuel has the Brooklyn Nets improving by 1 ½ games with an over/under win total of 45 ½. DraftKings has Brooklyn off the board.
FanDuel has the Clippers at 53 ½. DraftKings has them at 52 ½. The Lakers? DraftKings has them off the board, FanDuel has them at 46 ½ despite nobody knowing whether they will have Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving or neither.
Draft Kings also does not list the Knicks, Jazz, Heat or Raptors with any win totals, because those teams’ fortunes will be impacted by the Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell situations. FanDuel is not so cautious, listing all 30.
“We are comfortable that we have baked uncertainty into our season win totals, and the teams that you mentioned that are off the board elsewhere are the intriguing teams that customers are interested in right now,” FanDuel spokesman Kevin Hennessy said. “We know that if Kevin Durant is traded from the Nets that our line is not what it will be post-trade, but we have tried to factor in what they might be expected to win if he gets traded for a decent return, and what they might be expected to win if he returns to the Nets and plays this season.
“Even with these teams in a state of flux, our philosophy is to do our best to give customers what they want. It’s that uncertainty that makes the NBA off-season so much fun,” Hennessy said.
Caesars Sportsbook, MGM, BetRivers, WynnBet and Bet365 have not yet listed over/unders, while Resorts World has listed 25 teams. The seven missing teams on DraftKings represents almost a quarter of the NBA, and it somewhat assumes that every other team is done dealing, which is almost certainly not the case. So the object here is to look at what we know and what we do not know, and try to pick out those over/under win totals that have been set off the mark.
So let’s have at all 30 teams currently listed, using the FanDuel numbers throughout (the DK and ResortsWorld numbers are different for about half of the teams.) And rest assured, we will hit on this subject again closer to the start of the regular season when we expect to have resolutions to the Durant/Irving and Mitchell situations)
Boston Celtics (56 ½):Jaylen Brown is shaking his head, and if they do not get Durant and he comes back knowing this team tried to trade him, Brown will be lost mentally. 57 wins would represent a six-game improvement, which might happen with Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari aboard – and with a happy Brown. But that ship may have sailed. Pick: Stay away.
Phoenix Suns (53 ½): DeAndre Ayton was forced to go out and get an offer sheet from the Indiana Pacers that the Suns matched and now has 133 million reasons to be satisfied. He says he is “happy,” but we can guarantee you he would be happier if Suns owner Robert Sarver had not forced him to use the Pacers to get what he deserves. The Suns are bringing back pretty much the exact same team that won 64 games last season, and an “under” would require 11 fewer wins. We do not see that. Pick: Over.
Milwaukee Bucks (53 1/2): They are coming off a 51-win season and bringing back pretty much the exact same roster, so this is a question of whether they can win three more games than they did a year ago before they flamed out with Game 6 and 7 losses to the Celtics in the playoffs. They were 33-19 against Eastern Conference opponents last season and will likely do similar next season, and this number appears to be right on the money. Pick: Stay away.
Los Angeles Clippers (53 ½) : The books like this team, especially with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George now expected to be fully healthy, and John Wall aboard with a year of rust to shake off. Going over would require a 12-game improvement, something you do not see all that often in the NBA. Coach Tyronn Lue went with just six players getting heavy minutes in their play-in elimination loss to the Pelicans. Wall and Leonard bring that trusted number to eight, and eight is enough. But over 53 ½ in that conference? Pick: Stay away.
Golden State Warriors (52 ½): These guys did not take certain playoff games seriously, and we should expect them to take the regular season seriously as they defend their title? Hell, no. They will show up in June. Everything before that is meaningless. Pick: Stay away.
Philadelphia 76ers (50 1/2): James Harden will be aboard for a full season, Joel Embiid will be motivated to change some minds regarding his MVP credentials, P.J. Tucker and De’Anthony Melton have come aboard, and even Doc Rivers could not mess this up for a team that won 51 games last season. Pick: Over.
Denver Nuggets (49 ½): Two-time defending MVP Nikola Jokic will have Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray back along with a new starting shooting guard in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and a new (and underappreciated) backup point guard in Ish Smith. They finished sixth last season without all those guys, winning 48 games. The new blood should get them well over 50 wins. Pick: Over.
Miami Heat (49 ½): They won the East last year with 53 victories, and they have this number? These guys deserve more respect. They are the only NBA team with a winning, positive culture. Pick: Over.
Dallas Mavericks (48 ½): Assuming that Mark Cuban is not distracted by an independent run for president (you never know with that guy), the focus for these guys will be getting even more out of Luka Doncic after he is finished playing World Cup qualifiers for Slovenia this summer. The Christian Wood and JaVale McGee acquisitions were top notch, and they should improve from last season’s 52 wins. Pick: Over.
Memphis Grizzlies (47 ½): The books always undervalue this year. They won 56 games last season and finished second in a very strong Western Conference, and although they will miss the injured Jaren Jackson Jr. prior to the playoffs, they are deep, young and fearless. Pick: Over.
Minnesota Timberwolves (47 ½): Kyle Anderson and Rudy Gobert improve the starting five for a team that won 46 last season, so it is a question of whether playing big (while using Karl-Anthony Towns) at power forward) will differentiate them to the degree that they improve upon their eighth-place finish last season. We are big fans of Chris Finch, but not enough to counsel an over. Pick: Stay away.
Los Angeles Lakers (46 ½): We have already told you that betting LeBron James to become the oldest MVP in league history is not the worst idea in the history of ideas, we do not necessarily agree that Russell Westbrook has to go. If all he needs is a new voice, Darvin Ham is the perfect coach for him since Scott Brooks had that job. The trick will be keeping James and Anthony Davis healthy. Last year is over, and there is no need for it to be channeled when anticipating this year’s success meter quotient. This number seems to have been set high because Lakers fans always select “over.” Pick: Stay away.
Atlanta Hawks (45 ½): These guys improved by two wins last season, and going over here would require another three-game improvement. What have they done this offseason to make that happen? They surrendered three first-rounders and a pick swap to get Dejounte Murray, which may go down as the most underrated move of the summer. Murray was a nightly triple-double threat on a horrible San Antonio team, and these guys have improved under the radar more than anyone. Pick: Over.
Toronto Raptors (45 ½): There are those out there who feel this is the most plausible landing spot for Durant, but at what price? If Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby are not around, where exactly is the backup to Durant coming from. Easy one to make a call on here. Pick: Stay away.
New Orleans Pelicans (43 ½): Zion Williamson will be back, Brandon Ingram has reportedly been taken off the table in any Kevin Durant trade talks, but can a team that went 36-46 improve by eight wins in the West to make the over? That is asking an awful lot for a franchise bringing back a franchise player (Zion) who will need time to get his game back. We like them as a late-season commodity, but their conference is a bear. Pick: Stay away.
Chicago Bulls (44 ½): They won 46 last year and added Andre Drummond and Goran Dragic, who both can still get it done. This is an easy one. Pick: Over.
Cleveland Cavaliers (41 ½): They went into the tank last season after Jarrett Allen got hurt, but he will be back, and so, too, will Collin Sexton, whether he gets a contract or plays under a qualifying offer. They are fast and big at full strength, and they are a riser if they stay injury-free. One game over .500 gets it done. Easy peasy. Pick: Over.
New York Knicks (39 1/2): The Underachiever Award winners from last season may actually overtake the Nets as the team to watch in New York. But when the team to watch is pegged as a sub-.500 team, is that actually watchable? We can already see Spike Lee averting his gaze. Ugh. Pick: Stay away.
Portland Trail Blazers (38 ½): They were 27-55 (losing their final 11) because Damian Lillard got hurt, and this number assumes a massive improvement that will be fueled by the acquisition of Jerami Grant and the return to health of Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic. Pick: Stay away.
Charlotte Hornets (37 ½): We were pretty high on them two seasons ago as LaMelo Ball was having a terrific rookie season, and this number assumes a dropoff from the 43 wins they posted a season ago. Why exactly? Shoulder shrug. Pick: Over.
Washington Wizards (35 ½): Who is their second-best player? That is a matter of debate in an argument that would include Kristaps Porzingis, Rui Hachimura, Kyle Kuzma, Will Barton and Monte Morris, and we ask that you read that list of names again and ask yourself whether they are one win better than last season’s 35 wins with their ex-Nuggets. Pick: Over.
Sacramento Kings (33 ½): Mark Spears of ESPN has them as a playoff team. We would not go that far, but we respect Spears. Pick: Over.
Utah Jazz (33 ½): The same number as Sacto? With Mitchell likely gone and Gobert finally out the door? Pick: Under.
Detroit Pistons (26 ½): They won 23 a season ago but had Grant guiding Cade Cunningham through his rookie season. This number seems about right in a weak conference. Pick: Stay away.
Orlando Magic (25 ½): They are never good. Pick: Under.
Oklahoma City Thunder (24 ½): We love Josh Giddey. We do not love much else about this team aside from Shai Gilgeous–Alexander. And Sam Presti has one more tank in his tank. Pick: Stay away.
Houston Rockets (23 ½): They were the worst team in the NBA last season and had Christian Wood. A year away from being two years away. Pick: Under.
Indiana Pacers (22 ½): They won 25 last season (losing their final 10) and are in massive rebuild mode. Benedict Mathurrin should start and compete for Rookie of the Year. This number seems about right – especially with all of the Myles Turner trade rumors with nothing of substance coming back aside from draft picks. It is 24 ½ at DraftKings. Pick: Stay away.
San Antonio Spurs (22 ½): Dejounte Murray is gone, and pretty much nobody who is any good is ready to shave yet. Pick: Under.
So that is 16 picks, 12 overs and just four unders with a massive 14 stay-aways. Look, FanDuel was pretty on the mark on a bunch of these. They have good traders. If you shop around, you will find different numbers, and we would advise doing that.
But as for these picks, a 16-leg parlay has odds of 369,000-1. FanDuel would only let us put $27 on it, which we went ahead and did, which means your faithful correspondent has $996,473 reasons to hope it is dead on. Join me at your own peril.