This is a rare post. We’re still a wrestling site! Joey here to give you some of my NBA thoughts before the season starts.
Story time: I originally wrote this to shop around to basketball websites as an example of my work in hopes of getting a writing spot for the season. In some exciting news, I have been offered an opportunity at a website ideal to my writing desires and will be giving more information soon.
However, this piece did not meet the format for which I will be writing at on that site and I still wanted to share it with the world. A light bulb brightened in the back of my mind and I remembered that I have my own site where I can post whatever I want! So here is my analysis and predictions of SportsBook Over/Under props for overall regular season win totals of each team on the East.
Tell me what you agree with me on and more likely which ones made you hate my guts over at my Twitter: @JoeySplashwater.
Cleveland Cavaliers: 58.5 wins
How apropros is it that we start off with the biggest basketball story in recent memory – LeBron James returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers? King James decided to take his talents out of South Beach and return home with fellow all star Kevin Love. Add in a maturing Kyrie Irving and a great supporting cast of sharpshooters on the perimeter. The only question when it comes to Cleveland is the lack of proven defenders aside from LeBron but that problem doesn’t effect them until the postseason. The Cavs are definitely going to win 60+ games and in the 2nd or 3rd year once they start to develop the peak chemistry, this team could be the biggest threat to break the Chicago Bulls record for best regular season record.
Chicago Bulls: 55.5 wins
One of the most surprising things to me is how high the expectations for the Chicago Bulls are. Don’t get me wrong. This can easily be the OVER as the Bulls always overachieve in the regular season behind Tom Thibodeau’s coaching style of playing hard every night, not to mention the hopeful return of a healthy Derrick Rose and newly signed Pau Gasol. However, it’s very possible Rose will never be as good as he once was or that he may not be able to last the full season. Even if he does, I’m not sure how well Gasol will fit in the Bulls system or how much better Jimmy Butler can be. I forecast Chicago as a high 40 to low 50 win team and the 2 seed.
Toronto Raptors: 49.5 wins
Managing to retain Kyle Lowry after most thought he was leaving Toronto is huge for the Raptors as he’s the heart of that team and you have to assume they are the class of the Atlantic division. While I am on board with that train of thought, I don’t think they will win 50 games. Last season, it felt like a perfect storm where most of their players hit their ceilings. Exactly how much better can Kyle Lowry or DeMar DeRozan be exactly? I suppose Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross have room to improve but I see a mid 40 win season in store for Toronto.
Washington Wizards: 49.5 wins
The Wizards had a great season last year finishing with 44 wins and destroying Chicago in the first round to get a surprise series win. John Wall and Bradley Beal will only get better, especially in Beal’s case as he is nowhere near his potential at a very young 21 years old. Marcin Gortat and Nene provide a very good frontcourt of size and toughness with Kris Humphries off the bench. The big change was Paul Pierce coming to Washington replacing Trevor Ariza and this has been such an underrated move. As someone who watched every Nets game last year, Paul Pierce was their best overall player from January when they turned their season around to the postseason. That being said, I think Washington will conserve Pierce for the playoffs and Otto Porter will not be able to contribute of what he is asked to. I look at the Wizards as the 2nd best East team come playoff time but when it comes to the regular season, they will fall short of 50 wins.
Charlotte Hornets: 45.5 wins
After one of their better seasons in franchise history (despite failing to win a playoff game), Charlotte brings back the Hornets name and welcomes Lance Stephenson. I hate saying this because I love Al Jefferson and want the Hornets to do well but they are the most overrated team in the East. Look at their lineup and tell me you can trust Cody Zeller, Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to somehow make up 40% of a 46 win team’s starting lineup. Hell, I don’t even trust Stephenson as last year was his first standout season in a contract year and he started to fall off as the season went on. The Hornets are in that Nets/Knicks/Hawks core of teams fighting for the final playoff spots and I’ll be stunned if they get to 46 wins.
Miami Heat: 43.5 wins
Losing the best basketball player in the world means Sportsbook will expect a 10 loss decline going into the season. It’s very difficult to prognosticate a season without knowing what the plans for Dwyane Wade are in terms of how many games he will sit out for resting purposes. Even with that mystery, I still like the Heat team to be a top 5 seed in the East with the addition of Luol Deng and re-signing Chris Bosh. Deng is a multiple time All Star for a reason and I don’t blame him for not performing well in a toxic environment last year that was the Cavaliers. Bosh has improved every year despite lowering numbers to sacrifice for his teammates. This is his time to re-establish himself as a top tier power forward/center in the game. I expect a good season for Miami battling the Raptors and Wizards for higher seeding as they are a mid 40 win team.
Brooklyn Nets: 41.5 wins
Losing Paul Pierce and Shaun Livingston to free agency along with adding yet another new coach to the mix will be tough. In the 2012-2013 season before the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trade, Brooklyn won 49 games. The core of that team was Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams. Those three were basically the entire team as the starting lineup rounded out with Reggie Evans (unable to get playing time on a terrible Sacramento team) and Gerald Wallace (unable to get playing time on a terrible Boston team) so I have faith in them finishing over .500 if they can stay healthy. The improvements of Mirza Teletovic and Mason Plumlee along with the welcoming of Bojan Bogdanović should provide a spark to replace Pierce.
Atlanta Hawks: 40.5 wins
This one is tricky because they did sneak in the playoffs last season and will get back arguably their best player Al Horford. Most would think they should be a .500 team just based on that improvement alone but last season Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver and DeMarre Carroll all had the best years of their career. Can we expect that to be duplicated? Atlanta almost upset the #1 seed Indiana Pacers last season in the first round so many tend to remember them fondly but they only won 38 games. The return of Al Horford and the falling back to Earth of the rest of the roster will cancel each other out and they’ll be in the same vicinity.
New York Knicks: 40.5 wins
It’s very interesting here because Carmelo Anthony had the best individual season of his career last year but the Knicks were among the biggest failures in the NBA. Tyson Chandler still has something to give and would show signs of it but just didn’t fit in well with the Knicks. Even so, they downgrade at the center but upgrade at the point guard acquiring Jose Calderon to replace Raymond Felton. Logic tells me they should be even worse this year yet I’m cautiously taking the over. The change in culture with Derek Fisher coming on as coach, Phil Jackson making the personnel decisions and you have to expect improvements from J.R Smith, Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. I have New York just over, exactly at .500 with 41 wins.
Detroit Pistons: 36.5 wins
As shown last season, there is a lack of chemistry in Detroit and how can you expect it with the way this team was put together? Adding a shoot first player like Jodie Meeks to the mix doesn’t tend to be something that helps greatly but they do have an improvement at coaching with Stan Van Gundy. Sadly, I don’t think even Stan can get this team together to make a playoff run or even compete for one. They’ll likely attempt to trade Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond or Josh Smith for a traditional point guard at the deadline and move Brandon Jennings over to the shooting guard. Phoenix may be a potential partner looking at both rosters strengths and weaknesses come mid-February.
Indiana Pacers: 32.5 wins
How bitter a taste it must be for the Pacers to build a core that always falls just short to Miami and once the Heat finally loses LeBron opening a path to the finals in the East, Indiana loses its franchise player for the season. Paul George is likely out for the year and “likely” should become “certainly” when Indiana struggles to win games without him. Also losing Lance Stephenson who fit in perfectly for what the Pacers need at the guard spot as well as mid-season trade asset Evan Turner doesn’t bode well for a fun time in Indiana. The roster looks atrocious with C.J. Miles/Rodney Stuckey competing for a starting shooting guard spot and Chris Copeland at the starting small forward spot. Expect Roy Hibbert to be on the trade market all year and things to get ugly for the Pacers.
Orlando Magic: 28.5 wins
The Magic have a core of youth mixed with a couple of veterans in Channing Frye and Luke Ridnour to enter the season. I absolutely love watching Victor Oladipo and think eventually he will be a very good player but he has a few years of learning left to go before he’s a difference maker. Nikola Vucevic has shown signs of being a franchise center but this is a big year in his progress. Rookies Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton should make for some fun watching of a team in clear rebuilding mode. No way do I see the Magic edging closer to 30 wins and look for more of the same of last season with growing pains of a low to mid 20 win season.
Boston Celtics: 26.5 wins
Boston looks to be in tank mode putting a terrible team on the court. No one on this roster should be a starter on a playoff team aside from Rajon Rondo. Maybe Jeff Green if the team has a very good player at every other position. Rondo, the only player remaining from the glory years, is already injured and in trade rumors. It would not surprise me if the Celtics found a way to out-tank the masters of tanking in Philadelphia. This is just a terrible team.
Milwaukee Bucks: 24.5 wins
New hopeful franchise player draft pick, Jabari Parker and new hopeful franchise coach, Jason Kidd makes for some optimistic times in Milwaukee for the first time in a long time. As a Nets fan, I am very jaded on coach Kidd given his exit but I can’t deny that he did a good job getting the best out of players who may not have had their success without him such as Mirza Teletovic and Mason Plumlee. Kidd has a lot of coaching flaws too but he should grow, as will his team. That means I look for improvements from Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova coming off disaster seasons last year and a big jump for the very raw but supremely talented Giannis Antetokounmpo. Parker should have the time to showcase his talent and the Bucks should slightly surpass the 24.5 win total expectations.
Philadelphia 76ers: 15.5 wins
The Philadelphia 76ers stink and management wants to lose as many games as possible to attain a high lottery pick. I see no value in watching the 76ers aside from getting a look at Nerlens Noel. In fact, I’ve been looking at local preseason Nets ticket prices and Maccabi Tel Aviv are a bigger draw than Philadelphia. However, there’s no way they can be THAT bad, can they? Last season, they lost 26 games in a row and still managed to finish with 19 wins. Simple math shows us how impossible it is to be as bad as the Sportsbook over/under expects.
I may add a less extensive preview of the Western Conference Over/Under projections during the weekend with more information on the basketball website I’ll be writing for. Fun times are ahead, hoopheads!