On Thursday’s episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast, Simmons went over his NBA over/under bets for the year. When discussing the Bulls, he stated that the sportsbook he was using had set the line on the Bulls at 29.5 wins for the year and that it was -125 odds to bet the over. This means that a majority of bettors have been going with the Bulls over.
Simmons found that curious, given how awful he expects the defense to be next year:
If somebody scores 70 [points in game] this year, this would be my No. 1 candidate to be the other team in the game...., I would lock that.
He went on to say they he believes Chicago would be “a -300 favorite for ‘who is going to give up a 70-point game’ to an NBA player.” While mostly discussing how bad the Bulls defense would be, Simmons went on to be effusive in his praise of Wendell Carter Jr. He said that the 2018 NBA Draft will go on to be a “really memorable draft 15 years from now,” and also called him one of his favorite players from that draft.
Carter’s immense size, maturity and the possibility of him adding more muscle to his frame was enough for Simmons to call him a “home run pick” for Chicago. Those same traits are what make Carter a strong candidate for heavy rotation minutes and a starting spot. His addition to the team, along with their Bulls focusing on switching more on defense, are two factors that should--fingers crossed--help the Bulls avoid giving up 70 points to a player this season.
The last team to give up 70 points in a game was actually Simmons’ beloved Boston Celtics, who gave up 70 points to Devin Booker in a win over the Phoenix Suns in the 2016-17 season.
In the ‘16-’17 season, the Celtics had the 13th-best defensive rating in the league. If history is any indicator, a much more likely scenario would be Zach LaVine putting up 70 points in a Bulls loss to Boston this season. At the least, Bulls fans would settle for the defense finishing outside of the bottom-five in defensive efficiency. And a reasonable jump in defensive rating is more than possible with Kris Dunn, Carter, Lauri Markkanen's added muscle and LaVine’s improved defense.