NBA regular-season win totals are out. This is an efficient market, so as the old saying goes “the early bird gets the worm!” Looking at these NBA odds, which teams show value to make a winning NBA pick?
San Antonio Spurs 28.5 Regular Season Wins
The Spurs have been a perennial playoff team, finally ending their epic streak last season when they failed to make the playoffs. The Spurs have a bevy of solid young players, they just do not have a superstar to help them compete in a star-studded West. After missing the playoffs last year, the Spurs signaled that they will finally try to rebuild with a sign-and-trade of DeMar DeRozan. They let Patty Mills leave in free agency to go sign with the Nets and this will be a tough loss. The Spurs finally will be going all in on their young talent and this may be a year of development rather than success.
Still, Gregg Popovich is one of the best coaches in basketball and he does have a talented young roster. The Spurs possess young players that will be strong to build around. Dejounte Murray will take on more point guard duties, and he will be supported by shooting guard Derrick White, who is coming along nicely in his development.
Small forward Doug McDermott will provide shooting and should be able to contribute defensively in Popovich’s system, which is well versed in designing schemes to hide players’ weaknesses. Power forward Keldon Johnson has been one of the most statistically efficient players in the NBA. Jakob Poeltl is a solid defensive center, even if he is limited on the offensive end. With Lonnie Walker, Devin Vassell, and Thad Young coming off the bench, this is a solid eight-man rotation that should not be overlooked.
Popovich will continue to develop these young players and with the increased usage and playing time, I expect to see the gains in their skills to be quite evident. Betting against Popovich has been a foolhardy endeavor for the last 20 years. Take the Spurs over.
Houston Rockets 26.5 Regular Season Wins
Offense offense offense! These young Rockets will score and score often. The Rockets had arguably the best draft in the NBA, getting scoring sensation Jalen Green with their first pick, Alperen Sengun at the 16th pick. Usman Garruba and Jalen Christopher were solid selections at 23 and 24. What a haul for a team that just began its rebuilding process last year. These young players will support small forward Kevin Porter Jr, who came into his own on the Rockets after being traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers mid-season.
The Rockets also hope to have a full season with Christian Wood, who is a nice post scorer in his own right. Daniel Theis will provide some defense at power forward and PF Kelly Olynyk will bring more scoring off the bench.
John Wall and Eric Gordon will provide veteran leadership as the Rockets attempt to make a quick turnaround after jettisoning most of the squad that almost beat the Warriors in 2018.
While this team will have defensive liabilities, they will often be overlooked. Houston is a fun town for NBA players to visit, giving them the perfect recipe for home court advantage. Players coming into a fun town against a team they can easily beat means the Rockets should catch many superior teams looking past them.
With their ability to score the basketball, it should mitigate their liabilities on the defensive end and put opponents into high-paced shootouts every night. Tired teams coming into Houston are going to get more than they bargained for. Coach Stephen Silas finally has a motivated young group of players who want to be in Houston to work with. The whole attitude around the team is different this year and look for Silas to finally make his mark as an up-and-coming young coach.
While the playoffs will still be out of reach for this young, developing roster, they definitely have the talent and scoring punch to win at least 27 games. Take the Rockets over.
NBA Pick: Houston Rockets over 26.5 at BetOnline
Chicago Bulls 42.5 Regular Season Wins
The Bulls remind me of the Rockets in that they are a team that can score but will have problems defending. The Bulls seemed to address their defensive liabilities with the first two signings of Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso. Then, in a head-scratching twist, Chicago acquired DeMar DeRozan and grossly overpaid him. DeRozan is a great shooter to have in the clutch, but with Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic, they already have clutch shooters. This leaves multiple questions about defense on their roster.
They’ve added another defensive liability with the sign and trade which shipped out plus defender Thad Young for negative defender DeMar DeRozan. With three net negative defenders on the projected closing 5, it seems hard to figure out where the Bulls will get their stops from during the final five minutes of close games.
While the Rockets can outscore their opponents to get to 27 wins, getting to 43 wins by simply outscoring their opponents with weak defense is a different matter altogether.
The Bulls made a power move for Vucevic midseason, yet he was not able to push them over the hump and they missed the playoffs again. Vucevic shows the danger in the NBA of having a center who can score and not defend. A lack of rim protection exposes all the other defenders’ weaknesses.
The Eastern Conference is viewed as the weaker conference but the balance of power is definitely shifting. The East is deeper and more talented than it has been in years. I do not trust the Bulls to be able to get enough stops in order to finish above .500 in this upcoming NBA season. Take the Bulls under.
NBA Pick: Chicago Bulls under 42.5 at BetOnline