**DISCLAIMER** These predictions are made by humans, not AI. Odds via William Hill Sportsbook
No one has ever played a 72-game season in the NBA. Win totals are lower than normal, for obvious reasons. How will teams manage their stars coming off of a short offseason? Will they rest for a big chunk of games? Will rookies have even slower starts than normal? Only time will tell.
These are the 5 best bets for this season's win totals across the league.
Denver Nuggets - Over 44.5 wins
Yes they lost Jerami Grant and Torrey Craig, their 2 best wing defenders. But they went 54-28 last season. Will Barton was hurt almost the whole year. Gary Harris was banged up all year. Bol Bol didn't play at all. Michael Porter Jr had to earn his minutes. This season they return everyone at full strength. They signed JaMychal Green to come off the bench. Jokic and Murray are regular season killers. The Nuggets might end the regular season as the #1 seed in the Western Conference.
2. Atlanta Hawks - Over 35.5 wins
The team that had the best offseason in the Eastern Conference. Trae Young has a legit veteran PG in Rondo to help him grow defensively, after being statistically the worst defender in the NBA during his first 2 seasons. Bogdan Bogdanovic came over from the Kings and Danilo Gallinari from the Thunder. They drafted Onyeka Okongwu, the lottery pick from USC. Last season they had 20 wins in 67 games. Rondo, Bogdanovic, Gallinari, and Okongwu should bring them at least 10 wins. Package that with improvement from 2nd year players Cam Reddish and DeAndre Hunter and the Hawks should be competing for a playoff spot in the East. All they need to do is go 36-36 to cash this bet.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder - Under 24.5 wins
Sam Presti, the Thunder GM, is planning for the future. The amount of draft picks and young players they have built up in OKC is unreal. But for the product on the court this season, expectations are low. Their best player is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a future All-Star, and Al Horford is a solid big man. But everyone else around them just isn't at the level that they need to be right now. Tanking is probably their best bet considering they have every draft pick in the world. 24.5 wins is just too much. This is probably the worst team in the NBA, they wouldn't have won 24.5 games in an 82 game season.
4. Houston Rockets - Over 36 wins
This total makes no sense. They went 44-28 last season in 72 games. This would mean that Vegas believes their team got at least 8 wins worse this year. Yes Russell Westbrook was traded and Robert Covington left, but James Harden is James Harden. He might be the greatest regular season player ever, and that's not an exaggeration. They added Christian Wood, John Wall, and Demarcus Cousins in the offseason. They should have no issue going 36-36 this season.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves - Under 28 wins
Jimmy Butler led this team to their only playoff appearance since KG left. Since then, they have never even come close to contending for a playoff spot. The addition of D'Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards should equate to more wins. Other than them and Karl-Anthony Towns there's just not much talent on this team. Malik Beasley is decent, Ricky Rubio is a solid veteran off the bench, but no one will help the defense. They ranked near last in 19-20 defensively and didn't add anyone to help that. Until Towns and Russell show signs of wanting to put forth effort defensively this team won't be winning much.
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