With all the major free agents having signed, we have hit the dead period in the NBA calendar. There shouldn't be any major moves coming. So here are at two early 2016-17 win totals odds from Ladbrokes on which I would fade a bet on the 'over.'
Golden State Warriors (68.5 Wins)
Back on July 4 when Thunder superstar Kevin Durant, a four-time scoring champion and former NBA MVP, shocked the world and announced he would be signing with the Golden State Warriors, I wrote a story here at SBR and kiddingly asked what wins total the sportsbooks would give the Warriors. After all, they were adding arguably the second- or third-best player in the NBA to the two-time league MVP in Steph Curry and two other All-Stars in Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Even without Durant last season, the Warriors won an NBA record 73 regular-season games before shockingly blowing a 3-1 series lead in the NBA Finals to LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers.
I honestly wouldn't have been surprised if the Warriors had a wins total of 75 on NBA odds, but Ladbrokes has instead settled on 68.5. That's still pretty impressive a number considering only three teams other than the 2015-16 Warriors have topped it: Michael Jordan's 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (72 wins), Jordan's 1996-97 Bulls (69 wins) and the 197-72 Lakers (69 wins, including a league-record 33 in a row). I'm actually hoping to see a prop on whether the Warriors break that 33 in a row streak. Last year, Golden State's longest winning streak was 24 straight, which was the team's first 24 games. That set the record for most wins to start a season.
So why don't I think the Warriors won't top 68.5 wins? The season is a grind. Look at some of Golden State's losses last year: at Milwaukee (missed playoffs), at Denver (missed playoffs), at Lakers (second-worst record in NBA), home to Timberwolves (fifth-worst record). There are going to be nights where Curry, Durant and Co. are tired -- in the second of a back-to-back, for example -- or just a bit disinterested. There are always injuries. Plus the Warriors absolutely are going to get an opposing team's best effort every night and will be playing in front of sold-out crowds rooting against them in every building.
One could argue the Warriors didn't win this past season's title because they ran out of gas in the Finals due to the fact they chased the regular-season wins record. They won't try to top that this year. The team will be on cruise control much of the regular season to save up for the playoffs. The Warriors are -140 on NBA picks to win the championship.
Chicago Bulls (47.5 Wins)
Perhaps no team will look more different this coming season than the Bulls. And the Chicago front office clearly had to do an overhaul after Chicago was projected as the Eastern Conference's second-best team entering last season on NBA picks but slipped to a 42-40 mark and missed the playoffs under first-year coach Fred Hoiberg. This despite All-Star seasons from guard Jimmy Butler and forward/center Pau Gasol. Shoot, even former NBA MVP Derrick Rose played 66 games, his most since 2010-11, his MVP season.
But the Bulls as constructed were a terrible fit for the offense that Hoiberg wanted to run, which was up-tempo and ball movement. So this offseason, the Bulls traded Rose to the Knicks for a package led by center Robin Lopez. Gasol left in free agency and signed with San Antonio. Joakim Noah, the heart and soul of the team but who was limited to 29 games last season due to injury, joined his buddy Rose on the Knicks as a free agent. Forward Mike Dunleavy was traded to Cleveland in a salary dump.
Most thought the Bulls were going to do a full-blown rebuild around Butler. But instead they signed Rajon Rondo, which doesn't make much sense in Hoiberg's offense. Then the Bulls were able to lure Heat star Dwyane Wade back to his hometown because Wade didn't like how the Heat treated contract negotiations. Wade's a first-ballot Hall of Famer but is also going to be 35 in January and has bad knees.
This group is the opposite of what Hoiberg wants in that Rondo, Wade and Butler all want to control the ball. Even worse: none of them are even competent 3-point shooters, and that's what makes a successful NBA team these days. The Bulls should easily be the league's worst 3-point shooting team in 2016-17 and defenses are simply going to pack the paint and dare them to shoot from out there.
Maybe former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, now with a loaded young roster in Minnesota, could get this group to top 47.5 wins, but Hoiberg will not.