With the NBA regular season just days away, it's time to talk season win projections.
First, a note to remember before diving into the data and projections. Tipping off Dec. 22, the upcoming regular season will feature only 72 games for each team. That's down from the typical 82-game slate, so adjust your expectations accordingly.
There are some familiar names among the teams expected to have the most regular season success, led by two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. Oddsmakers at PointsBet Sportsbook have set their over/under at 49.5, the highest of any team in the league. The defending champion Los Angeles Lakers and cross-town L.A. Clippers are both currently offered at 46.5 wins, with the Boston Celtics and the new-look Brooklyn Nets next on the board.
Highest regular-season win totals (via PointsBet)
49.5: Milwaukee Bucks
46.5: Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers
45.5: Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets
44.5: Denver Nuggets, Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers
There's another team threatening to break into that upper echelon, even though oddsmakers opened action with them firmly in the middle of the pack. That club would be the Dallas Mavericks, led by MVP favorite Luka Doncic. Bettors have been bullish on the Mavs in recent weeks, both pushing Doncic past Antetokounmpo atop the MVP race and leading to win total adjustments for the team's regular-season prospects. After opening the Mavs' O/U at 41 games, PointsBet now lists them at 43.5.
The largest win total adjustment of the offseason came by way of trade. We're talking about the Washington Wizards, who swapped All Stars when they traded John Wall for Russell Westbrook. That trade has caused the futures prices of both teams to go in opposite directions, and Westbrook's arrival has produced a similar lift in the Wizards' O/U. After opening before the trade at 28.5, Washington is now up to 32.5.
The largest downward adjustment came from another notable offseason transaction. When the Oklahoma City Thunder sent Chris Paul to Phoenix in exchange for four players and a future draft pick, it signaled that the rebuild in OKC is well and truly on. The Thunder weren't expected to contend for a title even with Paul, with their win total initially pegged at 26. But after shipping the 10-time All Star out west, the Thunder's win total plummeted to just 22.5. They're joined there by the Cleveland Cavaliers, as the two share the lowest win total O/U of any club.
Lowest regular-season win totals (via PointsBet)
22.5: Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder
23.5: New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons
25.5: Charlotte Hornets
27.5: Sacramento Kings
28.5: Minnesota Timberwolves
29.5: San Antonio Spurs
While the Thunder and the Cavs currently share the bottom rung of the win totals ladder, that spot initially belonged to the Knicks whose total opened at 21.5. But despite a recent record of mediocrity, bettors have thrown their support behind one of the league's most visible teams. Thanks in part to the addition of new head coach Tom Thibodeau and the acquisition of Obi Toppin in last month's draft, the Knicks' win total has gone up two games to 23.5 - still a far cry from the league's expected title contenders, but a notable adjustment nonetheless.
Another team attracting wagers that might surprise you: the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks haven't won more than 30 games in any of the last three seasons, but with a young nucleus centered around guard Trae Young, they're expected to be relevant this season and bettors have circled them as a potential sleeper in the East. PointsBet opened Atlanta's win total at 34 but that number has been bet up to 36.5, with the Hawks now listed one game ahead of New Orleans (35.5) and only one game behind Golden State (37.5). Should they hit the over, they'll finish the 72-game season above .500 and likely qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
In addition to the Thunder, one other team has seen a multiple-game dip in their projected win total. The Memphis Grizzlies have reigning Rookie of the Year Ja Morant at their disposal, but the betting public doesn't expect them to snap a three-year skid of sub-.500 records this season. The Grizzlies opened with a win total O/U of 32, but that number has since dropped to 30 and puts them alongside the Chicago Bulls and ahead of only eight other teams in the league.
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