The 5 Best Early Bets on 2018-19 NBA Win Totals
The NBA season is still a few months away, but that doesn't mean we can't dig into the 2018-19 betting future.
Last week, the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas released opening win totals for all 30 NBA teams, and there are some totals that stand out as potential value bets to get our season underway early.
Below are all of the opening win total lines as well as three teams that could surprise and two that could disappoint.
|Golden State Warriors||62.5|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||50.5|
|Los Angeles Lakers||48.5|
|New Orleans Pelicans||45.5|
|San Antonio Spurs||43.5|
|Portland Trail Blazers||41.5|
|Los Angeles Clippers||35.5|
|New York Knicks||29.5|
– Over 48.5
The Utah Jazz won 48 games last season despite star center Rudy Gobert only playing 56 games. Although he was only available for just over half of the season, Gobert still won Defensive Player of the Year, as he easily led the league in defensive real plus-minus.
It's possible to think the Jazz simply overachieved in 2017-18, but according to Basketball-Reference.com, Utah played like a 53-win team based on their Pythagorean win record (which is developed using point differential) despite playing in the treacherous Western Conference.
The Jazz starters (Gobert, Favors, Donovan Mitchell, Ricky Rubio, and Joe Ingles) posted a stellar net rating of 10.0 last season, which was only the fourth-best of the Jazz lineups that played 50 or more minutes together last season.
Thus, Utah's depth gives them the potential to win 50 games this season, especially with a full season of Gobert and continued development for sophomore Mitchell. Early projections from FiveThirtyEight (54 wins) support that notion.
Brooklyn Nets – Over 32.5
Brooklyn had a Pythagorean win record of 31-51 last season, so the 28-win squad had reasons to believe in a better year in 2018-19 before improving the roster.
Out of the nine Brooklyn Nets who played over 1,000 minutes last season, only DeMarre Carroll is older than 30. Brooklyn went out and added veteran forward Kenneth Faried as well as veteran guard Jared Dudley.
Faried brings elite offensive rebounding prowess to a Nets team that ranked just 24th in offensive rebounding percentage last season.
Brooklyn was able to concoct an effective starting lineup by the end of last season; Carroll, Jarrett Allen, D'Angelo Russell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and Allen Crabbe had an excellent net rating of 15.8 in 85 total minutes and 8 games started.
The Nets' continued development of young players and additions of veterans has them trending up from an Eastern Conference bottom feeder to closer to the middle of the pack.
Charlotte Hornets – Over 35.5
The Charlotte Hornets are hoping to improve upon their 36-win season with an incremental roster improvement.
The addition of Biyombo provides a slight upgrade on defense (Biyombo bested Howard in his defensive box plus/minus by 0.4 points last season, though Biyombo did rank 73rd among 79 centers in defensive real plus-minus). More importantly, the shift should allow the Hornets to play smaller and space the floor on offense.
Even though Charlotte hasn't made any flashy moves to contend for the Eastern Conference, they won six fewer games than their expected Pythagorean win record (42-40) and should be due for major positive regression in the weak East.
Boston Celtics – Under 57.5
A bet on under the total might seem counterintuitive because the Boston Celtics finished with 55 wins last season and add Gordon Hayward back after a season-ending injury in last season’s opener, but their offense was suspect last season, ranking 18th in offensive rating.
Plus, the Celtics’ Pythagorean win record was only 51-31, which signals they are due for negative regression.
If Kyrie Irving stays healthy for the entire season, Boston certainly has a chance at winning 55 again, but he has only played at least 70 games once in the last 3 years. In 2017-18, the Celtics had an offensive rating of 111.7 with Irving on the floor, but only a 104.6 mark when he was out of the game.
Both Irving and Hayward have negative career defensive box plus/minus scores, so even though full seasons from both will improve Boston offensively, their defense likely won't be as dominant.
Boston is still a contender to win the Eastern Conference, but their opening win total line seems high for a team that was so dependent on Kyrie Irving on offense last season.
San Antonio Spurs – Under 43.5
While DeRozan is an improvement on Green at shooting guard offensively, the loss of Green and Kyle Anderson could significantly hurt their defense.
Anderson ranked 3rd in the NBA in defensive box plus/minus and 6th in defensive rating while Green ranked 18th and 20th, respectively. With both Green and Anderson on the floor last season, the Spurs held opponents to a 104.1 defensive rating.
San Antonio was reliant on its defense last season, ranking 3rd in defensive rating and 17th in offensive rating, so without Green and Anderson to guard the premier perimeter scorers in the Western Conference, San Antonio could be in danger of losing 40 games for the first time since 1997, the year before Tim Duncan's rookie season.