The NBA’s offseason isn’t over yet, but most of the dust has already settled. The league managed to cram a draft and an entire free agency period into a span of about a week. Training camps are set to get underway this week, with the preseason schedule tipping off in about 10 days. We will have real, regular-season NBA games back on our TV screens in three weeks.
Obviously, that’s great news for basketball bettors that have had to deal with quite the unusual year. The NBA took an unexpected four-month break between March and July before finishing its seemingly interminable 2019-20 campaign in October. Now, a little over two months since we last saw it, the NBA is back.
BetOnline has already posted win total props for all 30 teams in advance of the 2020-21 campaign. Don’t forget that this season’s schedule will consist of only 72 regular-season games, down from the standard 82. That obviously has an effect on how these props look. Rather than being projected to win in the neighborhood of 54 games, the reigning champion Los Angeles Lakers have a win total prop of 47.5, for example.
There is always value to be found in win total props before a new season begins. Where can we find value this year?
Golden State Warriors
Over 38.5 (+110)
Under 38.5 (-140)
The Warriors were the NBA’s worst team last season. Klay Thompson missed the entire campaign with a torn ACL, while Steph Curry played in just five games due to a couple of different injuries. Draymond Green didn’t look particularly motivated during an injury-riddled year of his own. Whatever was left of the Warriors tanked their way to 15 wins before their season abruptly ended in March.
While the Dubs will again be without Thompson after he tore his Achilles over the offseason, there is little reason to believe this team won’t be vastly improved. Curry is back, which is the most important thing. Assuming the two-time MVP can stay healthy, his presence alone should be enough to lift Golden State back into the playoff race. While the Thompson injury likely takes the Warriors out of title contention, this team won’t be a doormat.
The Warriors drafted ex-Memphis center James Wiseman with the second overall pick late last month. Wiseman is arguably the most gifted big man in his draft class, and he should get plenty of opportunities to contribute from day one.
The Warriors also added Kelly Oubre and Kent Bazemore to try and fill the void left by Thompson. While neither is particularly close to Klay’s level, both guys are proven contributors on the wing. We’ll see whether the change of scenery winds up helping Andrew Wiggins, but even with Wiggins, this looks like a much-improved side overall.
This obviously isn’t the same team we saw during their recent dynastic run, but even in the stacked Western Conference, the over/under of 38.5 wins looks a little low. Winning 39 games this season is akin to winning 44 games in a standard 82-game schedule. While I’d happily pass on taking a stab on the Warriors’ plummeting title odds, there is still plenty of value in betting the over on 38.5 wins at +110.
Golden State Warriors –Over 38.5 (+110)
Oklahoma City Thunder
Over 24.5 (+115)
Under 24.5 (-145)
Nobody thought the Thunder would compete for much last season, but that looks foolish in retrospect. While Russell Westbrook and Paul George were shipped out of town, the Thunder still acquired a number of useful veterans in those deals. Between Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Dennis Schroder, and Steven Adams, there were still enough pieces for OKC to be competitive.
And they were. Oklahoma City wound up nabbing a playoff berth with relative ease before losing in seven games to Houston in the first round. This year, though, the short-term pessimism surrounding the Thunder is more legitimate. This team is going to be absolutely awful.
Sam Presti continued the teardown this offseason. Paul, Schroder, and Adams were all traded. Gallinari left as a free agent. Kelly Oubre, one of the players OKC acquired in the Paul deal, was subsequently shipped to Golden State for even more draft assets. Even head coach Billy Donovan walked when his contract expired because he knew Presti planned to burn the thing to the ground.
All that’s left is Gilgeous-Alexander and a bevy of future draft picks. Seriously. The rest of the roster consists of an elderly Al Horford, the well-traveled Trevor Ariza, and future trade deadline hot commodity George Hill. Gilgeous-Alexander will likely put up big numbers now that he has the team all to himself, but the rest of this roster is downright ugly. Guys like Darius Bazley, Lu Dort, Justin Jackson, and Mike Muscala may be headed for major playing time.
OKC was able to easily exceed expectations last year, but this year is different. I would be surprised if this iteration of the Thunder cracked 20 wins. Bet the under on 24.5 with confidence.
Oklahoma City Thunder –Under 24.5 (-145)
Over 34.5 (-130)
Under 34.5 (+100)
The Hawks have been active this winter. Armed with a potential superstar in Trae Young and a collection of high-upside youngsters, the Hawks’ goal this offseason was to add some veterans. So, that’s what they did. They paid big money to bring in Danilo Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Rajon Rondo. Kris Dunn was plucked off the scrap heap, too.
Atlanta generated lots of preseason buzz last year thanks to Young and John Collins. While both of those guys are outstanding offensive players, they’re also among the worst defenders in the league at their respective positions. I doubt that having played no NBA games since March has done much to improve either player’s defense, either.
While the Hawks have probably gotten better this offseason, it’s hard to see how much they’ll be able to improve defensively. Bogdanovic is a dreadful defender in his own right, while Gallinari is 32 with a history of leg injuries. Clint Capela may be able to help protect the paint, but he can’t do it all by himself.
I still see Trae Young listed at 60-1 or higher for MVP in a lot of places.
Not saying he’s going to win, but that number is too high when you consider what he’s capable of statistically and the fact that the Hawks have a roster that can actually function now.
The Hawks should be a fun offensive team to watch, but they’re going to struggle again when it comes to keeping their opponents off the scoreboard. The Hawks allowed 112.3 points per 100 possessions last year, which was the third-worst mark in the league ahead of Washington and Cleveland. This team is going to be hugely reliant on their own three-point shooting. On nights those shots aren’t falling, things could get ugly in a hurry.
This is one of the more volatile teams in the league given their personnel. The Hawks could simply try to outgun everyone by trying to score 140 points a night, but that’s not exactly a recipe for success in this league. It’s unclear how Atlanta is going to get better defensively, which has me leaning toward the under on their 34.5 win total.
Winning 35 games this season is about the same as winning 39 during an 82-game season. The Hawks won 20 of their 67 games before last season was called, which is a winning percentage of about 30 percent. I don’t doubt that Atlanta is improved coming into 2020-21, but by how much? Winning 35 games means a winning percentage of about 49 percent, which is far better than the percentage the Hawks posted a season ago.
This one will be close, but I prefer the even-money value you can currently get on the under.
Atlanta Hawks –Under 34.5 (+100)
Over 28.5 (-115)
Under 28.5 (-115)
The Wizards were an injury-riddled mess last season, but they were still competitive enough to get to within striking distance of a playoff spot. That’s the bottom half of the Eastern Conference for you. Washington wound up losing all but one of their eight games following the restart, but they were playing without Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans.
Both will be back this season, as will John Wall. We haven’t seen Wall on an NBA court in two years, so it should be interesting to see what he has left in the tank. He’s still only 30, but following an Achilles injury, he may not be the explosive playmaker he was in his prime. Wall and Beal have formed a potent partnership over the years.
As is the case with the Hawks, the Wizards’ improvement will hinge on their defense. They were 29th in defensive efficiency last season, and they were only remotely competitive because they quietly ranked as one of the league’s best offenses. Washington’s improvement also depends on young players continuing to develop. Rui Hachimura, Thomas Bryant, and Troy Brown have all shown flashes in the past, but consistency will be key. The Wiz also got a potential steal in the draft with Deni Avdija falling all the way to No. 9.
I’m skeptical of Wall’s ability to find his previous form, but if he can, this team looks underrated. Beal is one of the league’s more underappreciated superstars, and the Wizards’ roster has more depth than your typical Eastern Conference also-ran. It won’t hurt that the Wizards play in a Southeast Division that features the Hornets, Hawks, and Magic.
The over/under of 28.5 is attackable. Winning 29 of their 72 games means Washington has to post a winning percentage just over 40 percent. Scott Brooks managed to get this team to a winning percentage nearing 35 percent last year despite a seemingly endless array of injuries. If they get some better luck on the health front in 2020-21, this is a team that can raise some eyebrows.
Bet the over on 28.5 wins for the Wiz.
Washington Wizards –Over 28.5 (-115)
Over 38.5 (-145)
Under 38.5 (+115)
According to these win totals, the Suns will be battling it out with the Warriors for the honor of finishing third place in the Pacific Division behind the LA teams. Phoenix went a perfect 8-0 in the seeding games over the summer, but it wasn’t quite enough to lift them into a postseason spot. The Suns entered the offseason with the goal of building upon their impressive showing in the bubble, which is surely why they decided to make the blockbuster move to bring Chris Paul to the desert.
Paul helped the Thunder exceed expectations last season, and he’ll come to Phoenix with the same goal. The Suns haven’t been made a postseason appearance in a decade, but there’s a lot to like about this group. Paul, Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton give the Suns a legitimately great “Big Three.” CP3 isn’t getting any younger, but he’s still an upgrade on both ends of the floor over Ricky Rubio.
New-look Phoenix Suns
PG: Chris Paul SG: Devin Booker SF: Mikal Bridges PF: Jae Crowder C: Deandre Ayton
Bench Jevon Carter Cameron Johnson Dario Saric Jalen Smith Cam Payne Abdel Nader Elie Okobo E’Twaun Moore Damian Jones
Losing Oubre isn’t a fatal blow considering the Suns posted a perfect record without him in Orlando. Phoenix also has Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson ready to play bigger roles on the wing, while veteran Jae Crowder will add some toughness on defense. Dario Saric and E’Twaun Moore are a couple of savvy veterans that will prove to be useful in reserve roles.
Let’s not forget that Ayton missed huge swaths of last season with a PED suspension and injuries. Having the big man in the mix to start the season will be a boost, and it should be enough to help the Suns avoid getting off to a slow start. Ayton and Paul should form a workable partnership immediately. Phoenix has major potential to improve on the defensive end given their upgraded personnel and length, as well.
This isn’t a team that will wind up jockeying for a top seed in the conference, but it does have a solid floor assuming Paul can stay healthy. That hasn’t been easy for him in recent years, but the over/under of 38.5 is still very appealing. This team should be able to finish well over .500, even if they won’t challenge for 50 wins.
This number could jump before the season begins, but betting the over on 38.5 is still the play. I’d have some reluctance if it got much higher, but the over is still the play for now. 40-plus wins is a reasonable expectation.
Phoenix Suns –Over 38.5 (-145)
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu …