Looking at the Over / Under totals for this coming (82-game) NBA season and what has to go right for each team to hit the Over number:
DALLAS MAVERICKS (48.5) – We know what megastar Luka Doncic brings to the table, but any chance Over bettors have here lies in him getting along with pouting center Kristaps Porzingis. Will Porzingis get enough touches to feel like he’s a real part of the offense, or will Doncic do his thing and force the big guy to search for table scraps?
DENVER NUGGETS (46.5) – The number would be higher were it not for the fact that Jamal Murray (ACL) won’t be ready for the start of the season. Can Denver rely on another MVP-type season from Nikola Jokic? A full season of Aaron Gordon will help, and big things are expected from Michael Porter Jr. after his breakout season in 2020-21.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (48.5) – Back-to-back severe injuries to Klay Thompson sent the Warriors to the lottery two straight times, and now GS is in no-man’s land – desperate to take advantage of every year they can from Stephen Curry but wanting to play youngsters like James Wiseman. Quite a balancing act. Thompson needs to be Thompson for the Dubs to get near 50 wins and be a factor again in the West.
HOUSTON ROCKETS (27.5) – Twenty-eight wins for a team in the infancy stages of a complete rebuild seems a heavy lift, but the Rockets have some talent, they play hard and they have added dynamo rookie Jalen Green to the mix. Green has to figure things out early, and other youngsters have to emerge for Houston to sniff the Play-In tournament.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (45.5) – Even when he’s healthy, you never know when Kawhi Leonard is going to, you know, play. Now that he’s hurt, the Clips don’t expect him on the court at all this season. And Paul George just doesn’t have the chops to carry this team on his back. So look for a step backward. Whether that’s a fall-off-the-cliff situation or a low-lottery spot is anyone’s guess.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS (53.5) – Lots of veterans, lots of load management, lots of depth. The Lakers add Russell Westbrook and banana boat buddy Carmelo Anthony to the rotation, but it once again all hinges on LeBron James holding off Father Time and Anthony Davis staying relatively healthy. A mid-50s win total seems reachable.
MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (41.5) – Patient through the rebuild, Grizz fans figure that this will be a turn-the-corner season. Ja Morant should get better, and Memphis is crossing its fingers that talented big Jaren Jackson Jr. will be relatively healthy all year. The key players are all young, but new vets Steven Adams and Rajon Rondo will help settle things down when the waters get choppy.
MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (34.5) – Over players might want to take a long look at the Wolves, who recently added Patrick Beverly to make sure the other players don’t fall asleep during games. Anthony Edwards is a star in the making, and Karl-Anthony Towns has not shown himself to be a flight risk (yet, anyway). So there’s hope in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
NEW ORLEANS PELICANS (38.5) – All the franchise’s eggs are in the Zion Williamson basket, and if the Pelicans don’t crush the 38.5 number and get to the playoffs, he may be making trade demands that set back the organization. Again. With Lonzo Ball gone, second-year Kira Lewis should start at PG, though much of the offense will again run through Williamson. Still, this a team is on edge waiting for Zion to decide if he wants to be there long-term.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (23.5) – Let’s see. There’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. And not much else. OKC always seem to play everyone tough, but it’s a talent league – and there’s not much here besides a boatload of first-round draft choices. But that’s for later on, and right now the Thunder will be hard-pressed to win three games a month.
PHOENIX SUNS (51.5) – The Suns managed to stay relatively healthy while other teams took turns losing key players to injury. Can the good fortune continue? Will the defending conference champions downsize Chris Paul’s minutes (he turns 37 next May) to keep him fresh for the playoffs? Load management could keep them short of the 52-30 Over players would need to cash.
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (44.5) – Portland’s business model never seems to change: Get to the playoffs and hope Damian Lillard goes nuts for a month or two, and see what happens. That’s pretty much the plan again, unless management breaks up the Lillard-McCollum backcourt that has started together since 2015. As in New Orleans, there is intense pressure to win.
SACRAMENTO KINGS (35.5) – Guard heavy and starving for wings, the Kings could be making a move or two between now and training camp. Buddy Hield is a prime trade candidate. They love newcomer Davion Mitchell, and to see him energizing a defense that last season was one of the worst in NBA history.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS (28.5) – Having such a low O/U number seems weird for the Spurs, but they’ve been out of the playoffs for two seasons now, and heading into the season without an obvious All-Star to build around. Maybe Gregg Popovich should have pocketed the Olympic gold and called it quits. This season won’t be easy for him.
UTAH JAZZ (51.5) – The Jazz laid it all on the line last season (52-20) but didn’t have another gear for the playoffs. Books see a moderate regression this season, with the same number of wins but over an 82-game slog. Can the Jazz even come close to winning 86 percent of their home games, as they did last season?