Well, I really hope you didn’t listen to me in July when I advised the Cleveland Cavaliers take under 42.5 wins. In fact, I hope you numbed me because Cleveland got a whole lot better on Wednesday when they traded Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, Ochai Agbaji and a stack of guitar picks for Donovan Mitchell.
The Cavaliers jumped to o/u 48.5 wins, and Utah plummeted from o/u 31.5 on Tuesday to o/u 25.5 Thursday night. The impact of the Mitchell movement is central here, but there are three other teams that were unaware when I covered the rest of the NBA win totals a month ago, so let’s disregard that as well.
Cleveland Cavaliers- o/h 48.5 wins
Key Additions – Donovan Mitchell (G)
Main losses – Collin Sexton (G), Lauri Markkanan (F)
Cleveland was already a fun team and consolidating Markkanen and Sexton into Donovan Mitchell made them really intriguing. And of course a lot better.
It goes without saying that Mitchell is an instant upgrade over Sexton on both sides of the ball. I’ve already heard the talking heads and podcast hosts call Cleveland a 50-win team. 48.5 feels like a very sharp line, and given the buzz and hype around this team right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if public money moved this up by a win or two.
I’m feeling quite bearish on the Cavs despite the massive backcourt upgrade. Unless Mitchell can improve on his Harden-esque defensive performance from last season, this will put enormous pressure on Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley. If Mobley is ready to be that guy, there is no ceiling for this team. If he isn’t, I wouldn’t be surprised if they win 46 games and finish 5th or 6th in a tough Eastern Conference.
I’ll stay away for now, but I’m still leaning UNDER 48.5 wins. If it moves with the money as I expect, I’ll probably even put some money down.
Utah Jazz – o/u 25.5 wins
Important additions – Read the comments from the Cavaliers above.
Key losses – you understand.
Do we finally know what’s going on in Utah? They blow it up. And I don’t think they’re ready. Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic could help a contender, and there’s no reason to keep winning such players if the Jazz enter the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes.
As it stands, with a handful of smart vets, decent role players and whatever Collin Sexton is, Utah is probably a 30-win team. So the move would be to hit the OVER 25.5 wins.
But you probably shouldn’t bet on this team until we have an idea of what their actual opening day roster is.
In short, no. We still don’t know what’s going on in Utah. But the picture is getting clearer.
Los Angeles Lakers – of 45.5 wins
Key additions – Patrick Beverley (G), Juan Toscano-Anderson (F)
Main losses – Talen Horton-Tucker (G), Malik Monk (G)
Let’s take the Lakers at their word and assume they’re going to kick off the season with the newly acquired Patrick Beverley and the somehow still existing Russell Westbook side by side.
This is not such a good team.
I love Patrick Beverley and what he brings to a team is unimaginable. Just look at how much he changed the culture in Minnesota after landing in a leading role. But that was a team where PatBev was the vet. He joins Lebron James (not to mention Anthony Davis and Westbrook), the most imperious of the veterans leader in the league.
Between the alleged “Big Three” of the Lakers and Beverley, this is a highly flammable mixture of egos. But we’re lucky, as gamblers. The Lakers are one of the crowd’s favorite teams and Lebron is arguably the gambling crowd’s favorite player. So the market overestimates them a bit.
I have LA as no better than the ninth best team in the West. And the 9-seed won’t win 41 games, let alone the 46 you need to win the over. In keeping with the traditions of my people (Warriors fans), I’m letting the Lake Show fade away hard. Stamp the UNDER 45.5 wins.
Brooklyn Nets – o/u 51.5 wins
Key Additions – Full-time Kyrie Irving (G), TJ Warren (V), Royce O’Neal (Wing)
Main losses – Andre Drummond (C), Bruce Brown (G/F), Goran Dragic (PG)
Brooklyn was overrated for the entire 2021-22 season, including the playoffs. Why? That team was extremely talented.
So is this one.
Ignore chemistry for a moment. On paper, Brooklyn is looking at a crunch-time rotation of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Joe Harris, Patty Mills, Royce O’Neal and Nic Claxton. Add in any money found if TJ Warren can be the kind of player he was before the foot injury and the Nets look great. The pieces fit in theory, the top talent is there and they won 44 games last year without getting much from Irvin and nothing from Simmons.
The Optimistic View: Irving is Irving, KD is so hoops focused that this summer’s clumsiness doesn’t affect him, and Ben Simmons really plays. The Nets are likely to win 50-53 games in that scenario.
But how can you ignore the chemistry with the competition’s preeminent circus? How can you be optimistic about this team? Will Ben Simmons ever play another game?
I’m here for chaos. give me the UNDER 51.5 wins.
New York Knicks – o/u 37.5 wins
Key Additions – Jalen Brunson (PG), Isaiah Hartenstein (C)
Main losses – Nerlens Noel (C), Alec Burks (G), Taj Gibson (F)
The last, and certainly the least interesting, are the New York Knicks. It must be disappointing to see your team committed to Donovan Mitchell to see him go elsewhere. What is this team? If you’re a Knicks fan, are you confident going into the season with a team built around Jalen Brunson, Too Late Julius Randle, Too Early RJ Barrett, and the zest of Derrick Rose?
I certainly wouldn’t. But as bad as New York was last season, Tom Thibodeau’s cutting style was enough to rack up 36 wins. And dare I say the Knicks have improved by adding Brunson.
There’s maybe a 40 percent chance that this team is better than last year, maybe a 35 percent chance that they’re worse. The remainder? Well, those are the Knicks. Do something stupid coefficient. Chances are they’ll do something utterly confusing to make the team worse, like move Cam Reddish, picks and paycheck for Russell Westbrook.
So I’m going UNDER 37.5 winsbecause the Knicks have challenged the Sacramento Kings for the league’s most mismanaged franchise for the past decade.
As always, play it safe and don’t chase.