Season Preview: Denver Nuggets
Quietly, the Denver Nuggets have turned into an offensive juggernaut led by a budding superstar in center Nikola Jokic.
The NBA season is around the corner and with LeBron James being on the Los Angeles Lakers, this season feels even more special. The Golden State Warriors have won back to back titles and are the odds on favorite to win a third title in a row. I will take a look at NBA teams’ win total according to Westgate and predict if they will have more or less wins than projected.
Golden State Warriors: O/U 62.5
The Golden State Warriors have won back to back NBA Titles and are the favorites to win another one. Vegas has them projected to win the most games during the regular season. They will bring back their top 4 guys and have added another all-star in DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins may not be fully healthy until later in the season but he is just another star on this team for the playoffs. The Warriors won 58 games last season but dealt with many injuries to their star players. This season, I think they win more than the projected 62.5 Vegas line and win about 65 games.
Boston Celtics: O/U 59.5
The Boston Celtics may be the biggest threat to the Warriors winning the NBA Title once again. This Celtics team overachieved last season and they did it without their two best players in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Both players will likely be ready for the start of the season and they look to be the best team in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics have a terrific bench to go along with a very good starting lineup. I think 59.5 is a somewhat low win total for the Celtics. In the East, the Celtics should easily surpass 60 wins and push for 65 wins this season and finish first in the East.
Houston Rockets: O/U 56
The Houston Rockets were a game and a Chris Paul injury away from eliminating the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals last season. They brought in Carmelo Anthony but this could actually hurt the Rockets, especially defensively. The Rockets lost Trevor Ariza which will also hurt them on defense but PJ Tucker could make up for that loss. With James Harden, Chris Paul, and Clint Capela still on the team, 56 wins seems low. I think the Rockets win approximately 60 games and will finish second in the West behind the Warriors.
Toronto Raptors: O/U 55
The Toronto Raptors made a blockbuster trade this off-season and acquired Kawhi Leonard but they traded away DeMar DeRozan. This could end up being a great trade if Leonard stays with the Raptors after this season and he is a big upgrade over DeRozan. The Raptors should finish second in the East behind the Celtics and I think 55 line is a great projection. I can see the Raptors starting pretty good but over the course of the season will improve as the chemistry with Leonard and his teammates grow. I think they will win 55 games this season.
Philadelphia 76ers: O/U 54.5
The Philadelphia 76ers are one of the most exciting young teams in the NBA with two young stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Last year, the 76ers took a huge step forward and became one of the best teams in the East. This could be another year where they take another step forward and make the Eastern Conference finals. With a good young team, I think the 76ers will win two more games this season than they did last and win 54 games this season, which is right around what the Vegas total has them projected for.
Utah Jazz: O/U 49.5
The Utah Jazz are one of those teams nobody wants to face. They are capable of beating any team in the NBA and are one of the, if not the best defensive team in the NBA. They have two young stars in Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell and they look to be even better this season. They eliminated the Thunder rather easily in the first round of the playoffs last season. They won 48 games last season but I will give them 1 more win this season and say they win 49 games.
Oklahoma City Thunder: O/U 48.5
The Oklahoma City Thunder were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Utah Jazz last season. It was a disappointing season for the Thunder who spent a lot of money on their starting unit. Carmelo Anthony is no longer with the team and this makes me think the Thunder will be better. They won 48 games last season and Vegas has them projected for 48.5 wins this season. The Thunder will be a very good defensive team, with Roberson returning from injury and I do think they will be better this season. I have them winning 48 games this season like Vegas projects.
Los Angeles Lakers: O/U 48
Not sure if anyone knows but LeBron James joined the Los Angeles Lakers this off-season. James instantly makes the Lakers a playoff team. The Lakers are rather young but they are full of talent. Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart will look to take a huge step forward this season playing alongside James. I expect the Lakers to be better than what people think and think 48 wins is somewhat a low projection. The Lakers not only have a good starting lineup but they have a good bench as well. Rajon Rondo will help Ball take a step forward this season. I predict the Lakers winning 50 games this season and having a top 3-4 seed in the Western Conference.
Indiana Pacers: O/U 48
The Indiana Pacers were a game away from eliminating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the NBA playoffs last year. The Pacers added Tyreke Evans in the off-season and he should start over Darren Collison at point guard. Victor Oladipo took the league by storm and showed he can be a star in the NBA. Vegas thinks the Pacers win the same amount of games as last season and I will agree and predict a 48 win season for the Pacers.
San Antonio Spurs: O/U 45
The San Antonio Spurs traded away Kawhi Leonard and acquired DeMar DeRozan from the Toronto Raptors. Most people are not high on the Spurs and I was not either but this trade will get the Spurs in the playoffs this season in a tough Western Conference. They somehow managed to make the playoffs last season without Leonard. They won 47 games last season and I think they will win more than that this season. I think 45 is a very low win total for the Spurs. I predict the Spurs winning 48 games this season.
Portland Trail Blazers: O/U 42
The Portland Trail Blazers once again were a major disappointment in the playoffs last season. They have one of the best backcourt duos in the NBA with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum but this has not translated into playoff success. The Blazers won 49 games last season and even though they have the same starting lineup as last season, Vegas has them only at 42 wins which is a major drop off. While I do not think the Blazers will win 49 games again this season, I think 42 is low. I predict the Blazers winning 45 games this season and fight for a playoff spot.
Memphis Grizzlies: O/U 33.5
The Memphis Grizzlies had the second worst record in the Western Conference last season, winning only 22 games. They lost Mike Conley for most of the season and they were a dysfunctional unit. Before last season, the Grizzlies had numerous consecutive seasons with 40+ wins. While I do not think they will make the playoffs, I do think they can easily surpass the projected 33.5 wins. The Grizzlies are a tough team defensively and will have Conley back. I think Memphis will win close to 40 games this season, much higher than Vegas’ projection.