First of all, I’d like to apologize. This has taken so much longer than I anticipated.
But anyway bro-migos, it’s almost time. Well, depends on how you look at it. Many arguments to be made for and against this, but the eager beavers of the world would quickly be ready to jump on me if I said, “Preseason doesn’t count”. Well (even though I don’t think it does), BASKETBALL IS BACK BAY-BAY! Bad Dick Vitale impression. Probably didn’t come across that way. Oh well. Not to go into the glut of preseason analysis, where injured players are jacking up shots trying to get back in rhythm, rookies are trying to prove they deserve their contract, most vets are barely playing, and coaches are just throwing lineups out seeing what may or may not work. To me, it’s like watching preseason NFL. Therefore, I shall be doing an in-depth analysis of (arguably) the best part about professional sports: gambling. As some of y’all may know, Vegas released the odds for the projected wins of every team. Shockingly, some are easy to take. Not normally the case for a place who’s motto is, “The House Always Wins.” Fortunately for you guys, all I do is watch basketball. Like a lot of basketball. Probably need to get another hobby. Anywho, let’s jump right into my guide for you guys willing to test your luck…
Minnesota Timberwolves Open – 44.5, Current – 41, 2017 Win Total – 47, Buck’s Best Bet – Under
Come get your takes while they are hot and spicy boys and girls, had to come out the gate with a hard one. This is a reluctant pick. Like very reluctant. But, gotta be real guys: the Timber-Bulls are a dumpster fire. Thibs is a head coach-GM that is stuck in his ways that are harmful as hell to player health. The owner has no idea on how to run a team (tune in later for this). They have no idea what to do when a star gets mad and doesn’t wish to be there. They have a divided locker room. They have young players that get called a word worse than ‘sissy’. They only have 3 guys that seem to be capable of playing defense. Too many red flags. This is gonna end in a self-implosion. Take the under, don’t get screwed y’all.
Golden State Warriors Open – 62.5, Current – 62.5, 2017 Win Total – 58, Buck’s Best Bet – Under
Pretty easy one here. They didn’t add any healthy players. They lost some reliable guys on their bench. Their bench is ALSO pretty depressing to look at after the 8th man (goes Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, and Kevon Looney). Pat McCaw just turned down their (lowball) offer. Rumors are already coming out that they are going to strategically rest everyone this year. Like hardcore rest. They want everyone come playoff time. They don’t care about the regular season. Take the under.
Boston Celtics Open – 57.5, Current – 59, 2017 Win Total – 55, Buck’s Best Bet – Over
Easy Peasy. They had 55 last season, and are gaining 2 All-Stars to that team. Their young players are another year older; their old players are ageless wonders. On top of it, there are only 3 teams in the East that have any shot of beating them, and all but 1 more than likely will. Take the over.
Houston Rockets Open – 54.5, Current – 56.5, 2017 Win Total – 59, Buck’s Best Bet – Under
Feel bad for Houston. Truly, I really do. They just lost all but one of their great defenders, which is arguably the only reason that they even took it to 7 against the Warriors. And who did they replace all that valuable defense with? That’s right: Carmelo Anthony. God save them. Think about their closing five right now going into the season: Paul, Harden, Gordon, Anthony, and Capela. Who are they stopping? Take the under.
Toronto Raptors Open – 54.5, Current – 55.5, 2017 Win Total – 59, Buck’s Best Bet – Over
God save the NBA. If Khalil Mack is any proof of how good a player can be on a “Fuck my former team” tour, then think about what Kawhi is going to do to that weak East. He’s the only one that can shut down Giannis, LeBron, Ben Simmons, KD, etc. He’s got shooters, and other defensive-minded players around him. This will be fun to watch, especially when they go over.
Philadelphia 76ers Open – 54.5, Current – 53.5, 2017 Win Total – 52, Buck’s Best Bet – Under
This was a tough one. Like very tough. I went back and forth for days over this. But Wilson Chandler going down kind of made me realize: they did nothing in the FA. Like at all. They didn’t score any of the A-Listers like Bron or PG. They didn’t trade for Kawhi. The best things they’ve done is flip Mikal Bridges and be a salary dump for the Nuggets. And even though Markelle Fultz made a jump shot, I’m not sold. He won’t close over JJ Redick. I’m not buying them right now; I’ll take the under.
Utah Jazz Open – 48.5, Current – 50, 2017 Win Total – 48, Buck’s Best Bet – Over
I actually put a lot of money on this. Like, all $5 to my name (lol send me money). This is an easy one. The Spida will take another step, and Gobert is the best defender. They have an amazing team defense, and Joe Ingles is getting SO MUCH better as he ages (literally the Ageless Aussie). I feel like the Jazz are going to finish really high…but my predictions will come later. Over baby.
Milwaukee Bucks Open – 46.5, Current – 48.5, 2017 Win Total – 44, Buck’s Best Bet – Over
I said over on the open, and I will still say it now. Giannis (barring injury) is going to win the MVP. He’s in a weak East. He’s got a great (regular season) coach. The supporting cast around him got better. The Bucks are poised to claim the 3 seed in the East, and that’s just meeting expectations. Expect good things from this team this year.
Oklahoma City Thunder Open – 50.5, Current – 48.5, 2017 Win Total – 47, Buck’s Best Bet – Over
This one was tough for me. When it first opened, I took the under. Like very quickly. Now? I begrudgingly have to say over. I think the Thunder, when healthy, will be like the Rockets last year: a defensive juggernaut with capable offensive All-Stars slicing up opposing teams. The trouble I am having is whether or not they will be in the top half of the playoff bracket. LABron, the Dubs, the Jazz, and the Rockets are all still capable. I think Melo leaving will help the team more than harm, and it will for sure help their defensive woes when he was on the court.
Indiana Pacers Open – 47.5, Current – 48, 2017 Win Total – 48, Buck’s Best Bet – Over
Again, another tough one. When the odds came out, I said over. Easy pick. Now? If you don’t take the push, I would take the over. Even though they missed out on the David Nwaba sweepstakes, they still won the Tyreke Evans lottery. Miles Turner has reports coming out that he is a sharpshooter in the making (God save the East if a center is a sharpshooter), and Thad Young is still the same dude that was able to do the second best job guarding LeBron last year in the playoffs. My 4th best team in the East shall do great, and Vic Dipo is on a path to bring a championship to the state of Indiana (something he couldn’t do at IU).
Denver Nuggets Open – 47.5, Current – 47.5, 2017 Win Total – 46, Buck’s Best Bet – Under
The Nuggets suck. Don’t get me wrong, I think they are one of the better teams in the West. They have the most electric offense in the NBA, and Jokic is a stellar, bonafide face of a franchise. But they still suck. They had one of the worst defenses in the NBA. In an effort to clear cap space, they traded away a lot of valuable defensive players (yes, shocker that Wilson Chandler is “valuable”, right?). And who did they add to help their defense? Wait, no one? Oh, my bad, they added to their guard depth by signing Isaiah Thomas…wow, very reassuring. I don’t know if the mantra of “Just out-score them!” will reap what they intend it to. Look at the boat the Rockets are in. Oh well, at least Michael Porter, Jr. will be able to play…in the 2019-2020 season.
Los Angeles Lakers Open – 48.5, Current – 47.5, 2017 Win Total – 35, Buck’s Best Bet – Over
Sweet Jesus take this. Like this is so easy. Even with Lonzo out, the Lakers have shown TREMENDOUS growth and FA success so far in the preseason. That’s saying a lot from the team that had about $40 mil invested in Luol Deng and Mozgov. Making strides. Of course, they also grabbed LeBron. He pretty much took the Merry Band of Misfit Toys to the Finals…again. Pretty easy one since the Rockets down-shifted as a defensive team.
New Orleans Pelicans Open – 45.5, Current – 45.5, 2017 Win Total – 48, Buck’s Best Bet – Over
This is a tough one. Julius Randle, Mirotic, and AD are a tantalizing frontcourt. Coupled with the fact Jrue Holiday is an amazing player? Sounds dynamic. Whats the problem? They lost Rondo, and added Elfrid Peyton. Not an upgrade. At all. Tie in the fact that you are pretty bare on your bench as well? Yikes. But this is a contract year for AD. He wants to get paid, regardless of it he plays for the Pels come next season or not. Expect an MVP-caliber year from him.
San Antonio Spurs Open – 43.5, Current – 45.5, 2017 Win Total – 47, Buck’s Best Bet – Over
I was over before, and I am over again. I can’t see a Popovich team not finish around the 50 win mark. They still are a deep team, and they will miss some key defensive players like Green, Leonard, and Anderson. However, they are still the Spurs. They will win against the bad teams in the league, and Pop will coach to win every game. DeRozan is going to be on a Khalil Mack-ish type of season (aka “Fuck My Former Team”). They will still be good. They are the Spurs.
Washington Wizards Open – 44.5, Current – 45, 2017 Win Total – 43, Buck’s Best Bet – Under
If you listen to another writer for Soft 7, he will lead you to believe that the Wizards are destined to be as high as the 2 seed in the East. But sorry Parm, I got to cut the hype train short. Wall, while a great player, has a lot of people calling him out for poor play and not improving his 3 point clip. Beal and Morris are good, but just role player wise. Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre are interchangeable by how mediocre they are. And Scotty Brooks is an idiot. Now, for the real reason why they will go under. Dwight Howard is a locker room nightmare. He is a walking cancer that only cares about his stats. Think about it: he’s a walking double-double, and no one wants him. The man couldn’t play with Kobe, and has pretty much run himself out of everywhere he has been. They are going to implode this season, and maybe the Wizards will finally grasp the fact that they need to start a rebuild around Brad Beal, Tomas Satoransky, and Oubre. Everyone else needs to go.
Miami Heat Open – 41.5, Current – 43.5, 2017 Win Total – 44, Buck’s Best Bet – Over
This is an intriguing one. Right now, the Heat are in a bidding war for Jimmy Butler with the Los Angeles Clippers. The price is a high one, so I took this into account. It didn’t change the fact I still believe you should take the over now, and post-trade (were it to happen). The Heat are poised in the precarious spot of being anywhere between the 5 seed to out of the playoffs. Sad part is, I believe 38 wins can get you a spot in the 8 seed in the East. They still have guys that can get buckets, and they have some great young pieces. If they get Jimmy Butler, then it only solidifies them exceeding expectations.
Portland Trail Blazers Open – 41.5, Current – 41.5, 2017 Win Total – 49, Buck’s Best Bet – Over
I think we are looking at another over here. This one is pretty brief in the sense that they just have too much talent. They will for sure lose more games this year since they didn’t address the 3 spot on their roster, but that only matters for the playoffs. In the regular season, they have enough firepower.
Detroit Pistons Open – 37.5, Current – 38.5, 2017 Win Total – 39, Buck’s Best Bet – Under
The Pistons are a dumpster fire. Like a magnificent one. Like a splendid one. They traded for Blake Griffin, a guy that pretty much plays in the same space/position as Andre Drummond. They don’t have any guards that wow you, and all their wings suck. Expect the rebuild to begin at some point during the course of this year.
Los Angeles Clippers Open – 35.5, Current – 37.5, 2017 Win Total – 42, Buck’s Best Bet – Over
I was surprised to see this be this low. But I get it. They have so much talent. They have guys that would start on other teams at their 10-12 spots. They are also in the glorious spot of being so talent-loaded that they are the front-runners for any Jimmy Butler trade (which they should pursue aggressively). Take the over, and be ready to get pleasantly surprised this year by Lou Will and squad.
Charlotte Hornets Open – 35.5, Current – 35.5, 2017 Win Total – 36, Buck’s Best Bet – Under
This team is going to be a magical dumpster fire. I just cannot see a positive. Kemba wants to leave, MKG hasn’t progressed, they lost one of their best players to a team in conference (Dwight Howard), and they drafted an under-sized wing that is best at the 4 when he has almost the same measurables as Malik Monk. Don’t forget to tie in the facts Monk can’t remember to put on his jersey, Monk hasn’t gone a week without getting hurt, and that Jordan (the 2nd worst owner in the league) believes they are still a contender. I feel bad for Hornets fans, they deserve better.
Dallas Mavericks Open – 34.5, Current – 35, 2017 Win Total – 24, Buck’s Best Bet – Over
I had not kept it a well-known secret that Luka Doncic was the best player in the draft. Bring this hand-in-hand with the key signing of DeAndre Jordan (the best defensive big in the FA this year) and with Dennis Smith’s growth as a player, and you got the makings of a great team. If it wasn’t for the Mavericks purposefully trying to lose games, they would have won a lot more than they did. While I don’t have a lot of faith in them making the playoffs, I do believe they can finish as one of the bottom 5 teams in the West since they don’t have to prove anything or attract any big ticket free agents.
Memphis Grizzlies Open – 34.5, Current – 33.5, 2017 Win Total – 22, Buck’s Best Bet – Over
Also another team in the West that tanked spectacularly last year. They were tanking so hard they were benching Marc Gasol for entire quarters just to lose. And this year? Don’t expect that. At all. IF (if if if if IF) Mike Conley stays healthy, this team will make the playoffs. They have a very good starting 5 defensively (Conley, Temple/Seldon, Anderson, Green/Jackson Jr., and Gasol), but their bench will be a tad weak. That’s to be expected though, since they are in the weird gray area of “Should we tank?” or “Should we compete because our really good vets are getting old?” I hope they make the right choice, since they are devoid of cap space since Conley and Gasol take up about $60 mil of the team’s already limited cap space.
Brooklyn Nets Open – 32.5, Current – 32, 2017 Win Total – 28, Buck’s Best Bet – Under
The Brooklyn Nets may be the Cleveland Browns of the NBA. Never winning, horrible GMs, and constantly having bad players. So does this mean with the Browns ascension, you may be asking, that the Nets will be experiencing one as well? Unfortunately, no. The Nets, while having some intriguing and potentially great building blocks of a team of the future, still only possess building blocks. The perceived ‘best player’ on the team, my boy from OSU D-Lo (D’Angelo Russell), is a slow, ball-dominate PG. He’d be better at SG, and while that would normally work, the Nets have so many guards it’s tough to make that transition. They are slated to have their books almost clear at the end of this season, and they possess their own pick and potentially a second first rounder if the Nuggets fall outside of the 12th pick (which they are slotted to on my preseason ranking board). Expect another tank, but with a great future in mind.
Cleveland Cavaliers Open – 30.5, Current – 31, 2017 Win Total – 50, Buck’s Best Bet – Over
While this may seem like a homer pick since I myself am a Cavs fan, it really isn’t. I want the Cavs to lose. It is in their best interest to tank. The problem is, there is no reason to. They just paid K Love. Their vets all want to prove they can win without LeBron (which we all know they can’t). Collin Sexton is a young PG, and their other young pieces (Rodney, Cedi, Clarkson, and Nance) are all trying to prove they belong on the future Cavs team. Let’s not forget the newly hired head coach of the Cavs Ty Lue (promoted from LeBron’s clipboard holder to head coach) is now given the reigns, and no one knows what he is/seems to be as a coach. I just have way to many question marks on this team, but I know one thing: they want to win. And in a weak East, I could see them making it in the playoffs at that 8 spot…unfortunately.
Orlando Magic Open – 31.5, Current – 31, 2017 Win Total – 25, Buck’s Best Bet – Under
Also another team that needs to lose. Fortunately, they will. Even with Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba looking like they can effectively block any shot within 10 feet of the rim, the Magic are going to play it smart and develop them the old fashion way: limited reps, lots of film, and praying they don’t get hurt. Aaron Gordon is also a giant question mark as usual, and there doesn’t seem to be a capable PG on their roster. Their best bet is Gordon can play a point forward role, which he hasn’t showcased that he can do. Too many questions from a team where their stars are still developing and young.
Chicago Bulls Open – 27.5, Current – 30, 2017 Win Total – 27, Buck’s Best Bet – Over
I was surprised to see this open so low. It didn’t stay that way, but it’s still low enough for me to take the over. While they may be a young team, I see a ton of potential from them. Wendell Carter looks to be better than Marvin Bagley, and Dunn is definitely still the defensive PG they need to compensate for Lavine being incapable of making a defensive stop. However, I don’t know about the health and depth of the team. Lavine and the newly-signed Jabari Parker are both injury prone, and Dunn is also coming off of one as well. Add in the fact their back-up PG is Cameron Payne, their back-up center is Robin Lopez, and they have no true 3 on their roster. Yikes. Awful lot to bank on for them being good. However, if they remain healthy, they may be able to beat up on teams purely by the fact the young tandem of Carter and Lauri can carry them.
Phoenix Suns Open – 28.5, Current – 29, 2017 Win Total – 21, Buck’s Best Bet – Under
Simple reasoning for this: young stars, young big man, front office turmoil, new head coach, no PGs that have played anywhere besides in college and the G League, and an abundance of depth in the wrong places. No one really knows what is going to happen, and while I can be optimistic, I can’t be stupid. Way too many red flags coming from the organization with the worst owner in the league, and this is from the same conference as the Timber-Bulls. Yikes.
New York Knicks Open – 29.5, Current – 28, 2017 Win Total – 29, Buck’s Best Bet – Under
To all the Knicks fans that stuck it out to this point: I’m sorry. I’m sorry because with Porzin-God going down, you lost your only chance of going over. I do believe that Know and Robinson are going to be absolutely amazing this year since they will have a lot of reps. But I don’t see a lot of positives on the roster, especially since Kanter can’t play defense. Maybe Fizdale isn’t the phony that Marc Gasol claims he is. I don’t know though. I don’t think the Big Apple is going to see a good Knicks team this year, especially with no stellar PGs and Courtney Lee already out with a neck/back injury.
Sacramento Kings Open – 25.5, Current – 26, 2017 Win Total – 27, Buck’s Best Bet – Over(?)
This one was super hard. But I have no faith in this one. I can go super in-depth on why I don’t believe in the kings, but to me it’s pretty simple: they are a young, non-playoff team in a conference that is stacked with veteran, playoff teams. Expect a long and rough season if you are a Kings fan, because it will not be pretty.
Atlanta Hawks Open – 23.5, Current – 22.5, 2017 Win Total – 24, Buck’s Best Bet – Flip a Coin LOL