NBA Over/Under Betting: Can the Bulls Make the Playoffs Next Season?
The 2019-20 NBA regular season is still a few months away, but so much has changed over the course of a few weeks in July that there is still plenty to discuss from a betting perspective.
The Toronto Raptors, fresh off of the franchise’s first-ever NBA title, will likely limp into next season following the offseason departures of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. The Raptors won 58 games last season, but Vegas is quite bearish on their chances of recording a fifth-straight 50-win campaign.
BetOnline was the first major betting site to release projected win totals for the upcoming season. The Raptors’ over/under is listed at 45.5 wins, which is seven games lower than last year’s preseason total.
Leonard’s new team, the Los Angeles Clippers, checks in with the highest projected win total in the league at 55.5. The Clippers won 48 games a season ago, but the offseason additions of Leonard and Paul George have raised expectations considerably on the “other side” of Staples Center.
The arena’s other basketball-playing tenants, the Lakers, aren’t far behind at 51.5.
Complete projected win odds can be found at BetOnline. Which teams look like good bets to exceed their projected totals? And which teams’ totals look a bit inflated?
Let’s break down some potential betting values as the season approaches.
Chicago Bulls (Over/Under 30.5 Wins)
The Bulls have been a doormat over the past few seasons. The core of talent that was competing with LeBron James and the Celtics atop the Eastern Conference a few years back is long gone, and Chicago has since started a painful rebuilding process.
While it’s been a slow burn to this point, I think the 2019-20 season is when this process finally starts to bear fruit.
Lauri Markkanen is entering his third year in the pros. The Finland native upped his scoring (18.7 points per game last season, up from 15.2) and rebounding (9, up from 7.5) averages in his second season.
The shooting percentages were about the same, but he showed real growth overall in his second campaign in the NBA. Most star-caliber players tend to see a real leap in performance in their third season, and I’d expect that out of Markkanen.
At this time next year, I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re hailing him as the Bulls’ best player.
Zach LaVine has some holes in his game, but one thing he can do is score. Coby White has promise as the team’s next point guard of the future, and I’d expect him to supplant Kris Dunn in that regard this year.
Wendell Carter Jr. was quietly one of the best rookies in the league last season. If he’s able to stay healthy, he could realistically average a double-double assuming he earns the starting center job.
I have questions about Jim Boylen remaining in charge, but the team has made some other smart personnel moves in recent months.
Trading a couple of spare parts in Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis to the Wizards late last year in exchange for Otto Porter was a brilliant stroke. Porter is the “3-and-D” type of player teams are craving nowadays, and Porter shot a blistering 49% from 3-point range in his 15 games with Chicago to end the season.
That’s obviously not sustainable, but he’s a perfect complementary piece.
Signing savvy veterans like Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky should also take some pressure off of the young guys.
The primary source of my optimism is that the Bulls play in the Eastern Conference, which has approximately four good teams. There is no reason to believe the Bulls can’t sneak into one of the last playoff spots, and it won’t take much more than 40 wins to accomplish that feat.
I’ll stop short of saying Chicago tops 40 wins, but I do think they can realistically top 30. Give me the easy over on 30.5 victories for the Bulls next year.
Milwaukee Bucks (54.5)
Last year, the Milwaukee Bucks exceeded all expectations by finishing 60-22, which was good for the best record in the Association.
The team’s decision to hire Mike Budenholzer to run the show proved brilliant, though Milwaukee ultimately fell short of their goal by losing to the eventual champs in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Bucks won’t be sneaking up on anybody this season. They lost Malcolm Brogdon to the Pacers in free agency, but the rest of the roster remains largely unchanged. Replacing Brogdon with Wesley Matthews is a downgrade, but perhaps some of the pain can be alleviated if second-year guard Donte DiVincenzo proves he’s worthy of rotation minutes.
That remains to be seen, but the Bucks still have reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The east seems to have gotten worse this offseason, so there’s even less resistance at the top for Milwaukee and Philadelphia. The 76ers look like the only other team with a realistic shot at nabbing the No. 1 seed, and they have some question marks of their own.
I’m skeptical of the Bucks’ chances of winning 60-plus again, but winning 55 or more seems like a very reasonable goal, assuming they stay healthy.
Given the weakness in the east and the fact that there’s no real reason to expect much of a drop-off, the Bucks should cruise past 54.5 wins in 2019-20. They’re one of the easiest bets on the board.
Golden State Warriors (47.5)
The Warriors’ reign of dominance appears to be over.
Golden State was beaten in the Finals last month by Toronto, and both Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson suffered devastating injuries in the process.
The Warriors were able to re-sign Thompson, but Durant, Andre Iguodala, DeMarcus Cousins, Quinn Cook and Shaun Livingston are all gone. Golden State was able to lure D’Angelo Russell in free agency, but his fit next to Steph Curry and Thompson in the backcourt remains to be seen.
Vegas is bearish on Golden State’s chances of winning 50 games for a seventh year running in 2019-20. Curry’s presence alone should be enough to keep them relevant, but with the way the entire Western Conference has improved around them, it’s tough to see how the Warriors factor into things.
At best, they look like the third-best team in the Pacific Division considering how much better the Clippers and Lakers should be.
The Clippers nabbed the No. 8 seed in last year’s playoffs by racking up 48 wins during the regular season. While that’s far better than their 8th-place counterparts in the east, I’m not convinced 48 games will be enough to secure a playoff spot next year.
This conference is stacked, and it’s impossible not to think the next iteration of the Warriors is going to be a middle-of-the-pack team, at best.
I am not convinced that this team is even as good as last year’s Clippers, especially when you consider that there is a minimum of 13 teams with realistic playoffs aspirations in this conference.
This feels weird, but I’ll be taking the under on Golden State winning 47.5 games next season. I’m just not convinced they have enough depth on the roster to challenge for 50 wins.
Phoenix Suns (26.5)
The Suns were a mainstay in the Western Conference playoffs in the 2000s, but it’s been a long time since this team has been relevant.
Phoenix hasn’t qualified for a spot in the postseason since 2010, and the streak is likely to reach a decade this season. The Suns have won just 40 games over the last two seasons combined, which is absolutely atrocious.
Phoenix hasn’t topped 30 wins in a campaign since the 2014-15 season.
The Suns have some nice young players. Devin Booker is a blooming star, while last year’s top overall pick, Deandre Ayton, is polished beyond his years.
The problem is that there’s not a whole lot else here.
Ricky Rubio should come in and provide some stability at the point guard position, but it’s not like Rubio has ever been a transformative type of player at this level. Rubio has made the playoffs twice in eight NBA seasons.
Kelly Oubre Jr. and Mikal Bridges are raw. Tyler Johnson is a fine backup, but we’ll see where he fits in with Rubio and Booker presumably starting together in the backcourt.
This team just gave away Josh Jackson, a former No. 4 overall pick, for nothing. Dario Saric, Aron Baynes, and Frank Kaminsky are fine complementary pieces up front, but nothing special.
This is just a numbers game. Only so many teams can actually win games in the Western Conference. The Suns look like the worst team in the Pacific Division by a mile with the Kings quickly rising, and the only team that may challenge them for the worst record in the conference is Oklahoma City if the Thunder continue their fire sale.
That said, the Thunder are a vastly better team as presently constructed, even without Russell Westbrook and Paul George.
This team is bad. Vegas is too bullish on Phoenix for my taste, so I’m happy to take the under on 26.5 wins for Phoenix.
Dallas Mavericks (41.5)
Again, the west is stacked. I just don’t see room for this Dallas team to make a lot of noise.
Luka Doncic was the best rookie in the league last season, and he’s pretty clearly a star. Luka being joined by Kristaps Porzingis gives the Mavs a unique star duo that could prove dangerous together for the next decade.
However, there’s not much else here. Porzingis is coming off of a missed season after tearing his ACL two years ago, so there’s no telling how he’ll look once he returns to the floor.
The Mavs’ other rotation players are Jalen Brunson, Dwight Powell, Delon Wright, Tim Hardaway Jr., Maxi Kleber, Seth Curry, and Dorian Finney-Smith. That’s not a bad team by any means, but I don’t think there is enough talent here to get this team into playoff contention next season.
I believe in Doncic as much as the next guy, but Dallas is in a division that also features Houston, San Antonio, New Orleans, and Memphis. The Mavericks should be better than the Grizz, but a fourth-place finish in the Southwest likely doesn’t get them into the postseason.
I do think Dallas is a team on the rise, but it’s going to be at least another season until they really start to make some noise in this conference.
I’d be more optimistic about the Mavs’ chances if they were playing in the east, but that isn’t the case.
As it stands, I think this team wins 35-38 games, which means they’ll fall short of the 41.5-win benchmark set by oddsmakers.