Every team is optimistic this time of the year in the NBA because they are all beginning training camp. Probably even the Philadelphia 76ers are. But I'm here today to give you a pessimistic view of five teams on their NBA odds win totals.
Denver Nuggets (26.5 Wins On NBA Picks)
The 76ers have the lowest wins total on the board at 21.5, and that certainly makes sense with how wretched that franchise has been for so long. But I'd argue the least-talented team in the league this year is Denver. The Nuggets won 30 games last year and have since traded their best player, point guard Ty Lawson, to the Houston Rockets for 50 cents on the dollar because Lawson has a drinking/DUI problem off the court. The team will start talented but very raw rookie Emmanuel Mudiay, the No. 7 overall pick, in Lawson's spot. Denver also has a new coach, hiring former Kings coach Mike Malone -- and that is a decent move. Although Malone tends to like slow-down ball and you need to run in Denver to take advantage of the altitude. If the Nuggets were in the East, they probably top this win total. Not in the deep West.
Detroit Pistons (33.5 Wins On NBA Odds)
In Coach/GM Stan Van Gundy's first season, the Pistons were a disappointing 32-50. I'm not sure why oddsmakers would thus raise that wins total by 1.5 this season unless they truly believe in Van Gundy. After all, the Pistons lost probably their second-best player in forward Greg Monroe, who signed with the Bucks. The team didn't add anyone of note in free agency but will have a full season of guard Reggie Jackson, who came over at last year's trade deadline. And presumably point guard Brandon Jennings will be healthy after missing much of last year. Those guys can score but not defend at all. The Pistons are Andre Drummond and not much more.
New Orleans Pelicans (47.5 Wins In NBA Betting)
I'm actually not pessimistic on the Pelicans as I believe they will be quite good soon behind superstar Anthony Davis. But 47.5 wins in the Western Conference? The Pelicans won 45 last year, taking the eighth playoff spot before being swept by Golden State in the first round of the postseason. New Orleans is basically the same club. Its biggest move was re-signing Davis to a mammoth extension (five years, $145 million), so he's not going anywhere for years. The club also re-signed center Omer Asik. The key move was adding former Warriors assistant Alvin Gentry as the head coach, replacing Monty Williams. New Orleans finished 27th in the league in pace last season under Williams, whose insisted on playing slowly. It will play much faster under Gentry. Again, if the Pelicans were in the East, I wouldn't go 'under' here. And they won't be by much.
Cleveland Cavaliers (56.5 Wins at 5Dimes)
Frankly, I would have gone 'under' this total before what happened in the Cavaliers' first day of training camp on Tuesday. And that was starting shooting guard Iman Shumpert being ruled out for 12-14 weeks with a wrist injury that will require surgery. He actually hurt it before camp started but had an MRI in Cleveland on Monday that revealed a tear. Shumpert averaged 7.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.3 steals in 38 games with the Cavs last season after coming over in trade from New York. He didn't start until the playoffs, taking over from J.R. Smith in Round 2, and Shumpert raised his game then. He's a very good defender as well. So that means the Cavaliers won't have their starting backcourt to start the season, with Kyrie Irving likely to miss at least the first month as he recovers from knee surgery. Oh, and LeBron James admits he's going to rest more this season to stay fresh. This is my favorite 'under' on the list. Does it affect the Cavs being NBA title favorites? It does not.
San Antonio Spurs (58.5 Wins)
In many ways, I put the Spurs in the same category as the Cavaliers in that the regular season simply doesn't matter. Coach Gregg Popovich has a lot of veteran guys -- Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker -- whom he will want to rest some games and definitely limit minutes in the regular season for. It also could take some time for new additions LaMarcus Aldridge and David West to totally fit in. The Spurs are also going to get everyone's best effort because they are so loaded and presumed to be Western Conference favorites, even over Golden State. San Antonio won 55 games last year and I'd expect about the same number in 2015-16.