Yessir! The NBA season is now less than a month away, and the first Las Vegas sportsbook has released 2015-16 season win totals on Tuesday. Here are a handful of teams that I would avoid, both from an 'over' and 'under' perspective.
Los Angeles Lakers (29.5 On NBA Odds)
The Lakers had their worst season in franchise history last year in winning only 21 games, although they did move up a tad in the lottery and chose Ohio State guard D'Angelo Russell with the No. 2 overall pick. I believe the Lakers will regret passing on Duke big man Jahlil Okafor, who went No. 3 to Philadelphia. The Lakers did add some veterans like Roy Hibbert, who might have something left, Lou Williams and Brandon Bass while waving goodbye to Jordan Hill, Ed Davis, Wesley Johnson, Carlos Boozer and Jeremy Lin. Here's why I'd avoid betting on the Lakers' win totals: We have no idea how many games Kobe Bryant will play. Or if 2014 first-round pick Julius Randle, who broke his leg in last year's opener, is 100 percent healthy or even any good. If Kobe starts ball-hogging like he did last year, this team is going to be terrible and will go 'under' 29.5 wins. If Kobe plays unselfishly and in, say, 70 games, then the Lakers could go 'over' that total. I don't know which Kobe we will get and neither does he.
Dallas Mavericks (38.5 On NBA Picks)
Here's another club that's a bit of a mystery. Do I think Dallas will avoid its first losing record since the 1999-00 season? I don't. The Mavericks were the big losers in free agency as they thought they had Clippers All-Star center DeAndre Jordan signed, sealed and delivered, only for Jordan to change his mind and essentially set back the Dallas franchise for years by returning to the Clippers. Now the only notable additions are former Blazers guard Wesley Matthews, who likely won't be ready to return from injury until Christmas, and former Bucks center Zaza Pachulia. Also, Chandler Parsons is coming off serious surgery and might not be ready to start the season. So it's Dirk Nowitzki and not much. Dirk's a first-ballot Hall of Famer but he's not able to carry this team at his age. On the flip side, this is also a truly professional franchise and maybe behind Dirk it can overachieve a bit. I don't think there's any question, though, that the Mavs will be in the 2016 draft lottery.
Miami Heat (45.5 In NBA Betting)
You will notice an injury trend here. Miami could have -- could have -- the second-best starting five in the Eastern Conference (behind Cleveland) in Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside. However, it seems impossible to think that Wade plays more than 65 games with his recent injury history. I doubt he even wants to. Bosh is coming off a very serious blood clot problem that will change the way he lives and ended last season early. Whiteside could have been a one-year fluke. Dragic is a bit overrated. But I suppose if everything went right with those guys, this club could win 50 games in the weak Eastern Conference. I just don't see that happening.
Atlanta Hawks (49.5 On NBA Odds)
One last team I am having trouble getting a grip on. The Hawks won a franchise-record 60 games last year but were a much different team in the playoffs, ultimately getting swept by the Cavaliers. Kyle Korver was an All-Star in the regular season and largely a non-factor in the postseason as teams figured out how to defend the one-dimensional shooter. Forward DeMarre Carroll will be missed as he was a terrific two-way player. But maybe the additions of Tiago Splitter and Tim Hardaway Jr. will make up for that? And maybe Mike Budenholzer is simply that good of a coach and will ensure Atlanta doesn't drop 10 or more wins from last year's total? Obviously the Hawks have the advantage of playing in the Eastern Conference. But this team is set up for major regression in my opinion. I just can't determine how much yet. So just steer clear for now.