*These win totals were taken from the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.
JR- John Rodriguez
Golden State (60.5)- OVER
To think that Golden State will be seven games worse than last year without losing any significant players (no David Lee is not) is just not smart. Sure, Golden State had a historical season last year and pretty much everything went their way in terms of injuries and close games, but they still have a solid roster, led by Steph Curry, who just put up 53 and nobody is picking to repeat as MVP. I don’t see any good reason why this team, even if they are led by the late and great LUKE WALTON, to fall off of title contention. Woah pump the brakes there, LUKE!!
Celtics (42.5)- OVER
The Celts added some solid players in the offseason, including David Lee, which gives us two too many mentions of his name in this column. This team is a fiesty, young talented bunch led by President-Elect Brad Stevens and no real superstars. 43 wins would put this team just over .500 and if they play close to how they played during the last half of the season last year, I see them as a lock for the playoffs, especially in the East and closer to 50 wins. Bradley is a family man too, can’t beat that.
Nets (28.5)- UNDER
MIkhail Prokhorov has paid over 100 million dollars in luxury tax to field a steaming pile of garbage professional basketball team. Don’t worry Nets fan, Jarrett Jack is here to save the day!!! This team has more scrubs than a hospital, led by veteran doctor Andrea Bargnani, who earned his MD, specializing in horrible shot selection and dreadful defense. When head honcho Lionel Hollins was asked about his past, he said: “His past? I don’t care. “ Oh, I’m sure you are also then not concerned with winning any games this season. This team is gonna blow this year.
Los Angeles Lakers (29.5)- UNDER
There’s no reason to believe this team will be anywhere close to decent this year. They struck out in the offseason, looking to land big free agents and instead was left with the scraps including Roy Hibbert. Questions about Kobe that prolly asked in the preview last year and must now be asked every year include: Can he stay healthy? How many minutes will he play? How many games must he sit out to rest? They have some young talent in Russell, Randle, and Clarkson but these guys are still so raw and the team plays ZERO team defense (last so far in defensive efficiency) and that will remain as long as Byron Scott is still in town. Another entertaining piece of this team is the man, the myth, the legend Swaggy P. He was convinced a dolphin tried to kill him and steal his bae, Iggy Azalea. I’m just looking to see him piss off Kobe more this year and more of BOBBY SACRE. They will be slightly better maybe this year than last (21-61), but I’m not ready to lock them into 30 wins.
KR- Kurt Russell
Chicago Bulls (49.5)- OVER
Sticking with my pick to have the Bulls finish second in the East, I would hope they eclipse the 50 win mark this season. New coach Fred Hoiberg, who turned Iowa State from a 16-16 team in season 1 at the helm to four 23+ win seasons in a row, should reinvigorate a team that seemed overworked by Tom Thibs. I’m sure this pick is going to bite me in the ass, just like when I picked Iowa State to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament both times they were a 3 seed and never surpassed the Sweet 16… but I digress.
I think it’s reasonable to expect a 54 win season from the Bulls. Look for Nikola Mirotic to have a breakout year.
Here’s Fred dancing his heart out at a charity dance off. Thibs would never do something like this…
New York Knickerbockers (31.5) – OVER
Flashback to late October of 2014, and I’m enjoying a big bowl of Cocoa Krispies and writing this same article. I see the Knicks listed at on the Vegas over/under at a mere 40.5 wins for the season. It seems obvious to me. That team has to make the playoffs. How could they not? The East was weak and Melo should be enough to be .500.
Well, the Knicks ended up at 17-65, falling just 24 wins short. Melo played 40 of 82 games, Amare Stoudemire, JR Smith, and Iman Shumpert moved onto new rosters. Unbelievably (and not surprisingly), Melo, Langston Galloway, Cleanthony Early, and Lance Thomas (who?) are the only four players to survive into the 2015-2016 season.
This number, quite frankly, is insulting. This team is comparable to a Snickers bar. Yeah, sure, there are much better candies out there. But at the same time, Sno Caps (the 76ers), Good and Plenty (the Lakers), and Necco Wafers (the Nets) exist. Pencil them in for at least 37 wins and an outside shot at a playoff spot. I’m going to go enjoy some Skittles after all this candy talk.
Indiana Pacers (42.5) – UNDER
Remember when the Pacers were the next best thing and on pace to dethrone the Heat as the Eastern Conference Champions? The core of George Hill, Lance Stephenson, Paulie George, David West, and Roy Hibbert had the right stuff to combat the Heat’s style of play.
Fast forward to 2015, and only Paulie George Hill remain(s). The addition of Monta Ellis doesn’t really mesh with the nitty-gritty Pacers. I expect them to be dwelling in the cellar with Colin Childress (see Wikipedia if you don’t follow the reference(g.
The Pacers and 76ers will become good friends at next year’s NBA Lottery Draft.
VC- Vandan Chokshi
Phoenix Suns (36.5)- OVER
The Phoenix Suns offseason was like an episode of MTV’s Made, with the hope of landing a date (season) with the prom queen (LaMarcus Aldridge). Throughout the entire summer, they made moves such as working out more, dressing better and passing the “friend test” with Aldridge’s friends (signing Tyson Chandler). However, unfortunately, from LaMarcus Aldridges’ perspective, it was more like an episode of MTV’s Next.
Regardless, the team should find success while they are still going through the denial stage of Aldridge spurning them for the Spurs. Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe will pace the offense, while Tyson Chandler and the Suns’ top ranked medical staff will man the defense.
“Play it cool Mayor Stanton, play it cool…”twitter.
Orlando Magic (32.5)- UNDER
While defense wins championships, teams led by Evan Fournier don’t win games – no matter how much defense they play. Orlando has a nice young, athletic core between Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon. They will stifle opposing perimeter players, and end up on highlight reels all season long. However, eventually there comes a point in the game where you have to put the ball in the basket. While this is a struggle for Orlando in its own right, what makes matters worse is that the basket is ten feet in the air and there are many tall men between Orlando and the basket. The rest of the NBA knows that Orlando can’t score, and so they will pack the paint and force the Magic to prove they can space the floor.
Cleveland Cavaliers (56.5) – UNDER
The Cavs are the best team in the Eastern Conference. There is no doubt that if our beloved team remains healthy, we’ll be having watch parties outside of the Q in June. However, LeBron James understands that there is only two months of basketball that matter in the National Basketball Association. The Cavaliers don’t care if they are the 1st seed or the 8th seed. When you’ve amassed the talent and depth that our roster has, your goal isn’t to wear your team out trying to win a 1st seed, your goal is to win a championship.
Also, LeBron James needs to rest. He is entering his 13th season in the NBA, and no player in the history of the NBA has played more minutes through 13 seasons than LeBron. The top 5 active minutes leaders in the NBA are Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, and Paul Pierce. Garnett is 5th all time with almost 50,000 minutes, Bryant is 10th with 47,000, Duncan is 13th with 46,000, Nowitzki is 16th with 45,000, Pierce is 17th with 44,500. LeBron has played 36,000 minutes, not counting his 5 straight visits to the NBA finals.
To place things into perspective, Dirk played 36,200 minutes through 13 seasons. This is approximately 200 more minutes than LeBron but Dirk has had several early playoff exits, and only two final visits in his career. Paul Pierce played 35,700 minutes through 13 seasons, 300 minutes less than LeBron. Seasons 10 through 14 were the deep “big three” seasons, but season 14 doesn’t count. Kobe Bryant played a surprising 34,500 minutes through his first 13 seasons. He started his career winning title after title with Shaq but once Shaq left in 2004, Kobe’s Lakers failed to make deep playoff runs. KG is the only player on the active minute list to play a significant amount more than LeBron though 13 seasons. KG played 36,911 minutes through 13 seasons, which includes the shortened lockout season of 1998-99. The thing about KG’s career is that he didn’t make it beyond the 1st round of the playoffs until he won a championship with the Celtics.
Tim Duncan has Gregg Popovich. Through 13 seasons Tim Duncan has eclipsed the 3000 minutes per season 4 times. LeBron has eclipsed this mark a staggering 7 times with two 2900 minute seasons. Duncan has exactly zero 2900 minute seasons outside of his four 3000 minute seasons. Pop understood that it’s a 2 month season before Duncan even reached 30.
LeBron needs to rest. Cavs are a lock for the under. Look for the Cavs to win roughly 54 games and a two seed in the East.
Memphis (50.5)- UNDER
The Grizzlies have been a Western Conference playoff staple for the last 5 years or so. They have big, talented bruisers down low in Gasol and Randolph, and they have one of the most consistent guards in basketball in Mike Conley Jr. However, the Grizzlies have been building their team against the trend of NBA basketball. Every single team in the NBA wants to shoot the three ball except the Grizz. The top teams in the West shoot the heck out of the ball. Golden State, San Antonio, Houston, and even the Clippers (to a lesser extent) are excellent 3 point shooting teams.
The combination of declining players due to age (Gasol, Randolph) and their lack of being able to spread the floor is going to make for a rough season. Look for the Grizz to win around 45 games.
Minnesota (25.5)- OVER
Minnesota’s starting line-up is Ricky Rubio, Andrew Wiggins, Tayshaun Prince, Kevin Garnett, and Karl-Anthony Towns. They have Andre Miller, Ph.D, Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad, Nemanja Bjelica, Gorgui Dieng, Tyus Jones, Kevin Martin, Adreian Payne, and Nikola Pekovic on the bench. The Wolves have a great veteran presence with Andre Miller, PHD., KG, and K-Mart. They have nice young talent, and Andrew Wiggins who looks like he will be a perennial all-star. The Western Conference is brutal but I think Minnesota, as long as they stay healthy, will easily win 30 games.
RM: Rahul Mital
Cleveland Cavaliers 56.5 (OVER)
At the risk of sounding like the Cavs homer that I am, I’ll take the over on the Cavs. The Cavs won 53 games last year. That was with an entirely new team with no continuity, plus a midseason shake-up that brought in Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, and Tina Fey MozGod. Oh yeah and that Lebron guy? Missed two weeks. I understand that the Cavs probably aren’t very concerned about getting the top seed in the East. But does that really matter when the regular season competition consists of teams like Philadelphia and Brooklyn? In the 2008-2009 season, the Cavs won 66 games and Lebron was surrounded by guys like Tarence Kinsey and Sasha Pavlovic. Now that team was built for the regular season, but let’s be clear: If Lebron James plays all or most of the games in the regular season (which he says he will), the Cavs should flirt with 60 wins, while Kurt and Johnny flirt with Niall Horan from One Direction.
Philadelphia 76ers (21.5)- UNDER
I wholeheartedly believe that The L.A. Lakers and Brooklyn Nets are going to easily hit the unders on their lines. However, since these two teams have already been mentioned, I’ll go with the third side of the NBA bermuda triangle of shitty basketball teams: The 76ers. In order to hit the over, the 76ers have to win 22 games. Can anybody really picture the 76ers beating a living, breathing, sentient group of individuals 22 different times over the course of the season?? Philly is young, and I don’t mean to rag on them too hard. They have a bright spot/possible rookie of the year in Jahlil Okafor. However, that alone is not going to win you any games. They have zero veterans, which will make 8 or 10 game losing streaks commonplace. the obvious move for them is to tank (again), which they are going to do, whether they want to or not.