The NBA season is less than a week away and as teams wrap up their slate of preseason games—the final games will be played on Friday—it’s time to take a look at how the rosters stack up, especially if you have an interest in laying a few bucks on your favorite (or, heck, least favorite) team’s chances to finish over or under their projected win total.
L.A. Clippers, 53.5 wins. Gimme the: Over. The West is difficult, Paul George is coming off an injury and the Clippers will tinker with “load management” with George and Kawhi Leonard. That’s why this number is not higher. But this is a deep team and will pick its spots to rest its stars—the Raptors, remember, were 17-5 when Leonard did not play last year. This is the best team in the West and 54 wins should be doable.
L.A. Lakers, 51.5 wins. Gimme the: Under. The Lakers are expected to keep pace with the Clippers but it’s hard to be sold on the depth or the obvious issues in the rotation here. The perimeter shooting is an issue, the persistent injuries to Anthony Davis are an issue, LeBron James’ age is an issue and the overall lack of athleticism is an issue. It’s not hard to imagine 52 wins for the Lakers, but there are too many potential pitfalls here.
Pretty Good Shots
New Orleans, 39.5 wins. Gimme the: Over. The Zion Williamson injury is scary—injuries and the Pelicans should make anyone nervous—but the front office has constructed a deep and versatile roster that might not be quite good enough for the playoffs but should hit the .500 mark.
Golden State, 47.5 wins. Gimme the: Over. The bench will make anyone a little nervous and when Klay Thompson does come back, he will not be 100 percent. But this team has Steph Curry, who should be back in MVP candidate form, and Draymond Green, with D’Angelo Russell trying to find his way into the mix. That’s a good start. They won’t be the juggernaut they’ve been in the past, but the Warriors can clear 48 wins.
Portland, 46.5 wins. Gimme the: Under. The Blazers won 53 games and reached the West finals last year but still endured a pretty major roster overhaul. Center Jusuf Nurkic is out, probably until February or so, and the team replaced him with Hassan Whiteside and Pau Gasol. They also brought in a slew of new bodies—Anthony Tolliver, Mario Hezonja, Kent Bazemore, Skal Labissiere—who will be expected to contribute. But it’s hard to see where Portland upgraded and a slide back down to 43-44 wins is the guess here.
Sacramento, 37.5 wins. Gimme the: Under. It would be nice if the Kings finally showed some promise and then delivered on it. De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield (assuming he is happy with an extension) offer some hope in the backcourt but the frontcourt consists of aging misfits Trevor Ariza and Harrison Barnes, with Dewayne Dedmon the wildcard at center. It’s a decent group but 38 wins in the West is no picnic.
Minnesota, 35.5 wins. Gimme the: Over. The Timberwolves managed 36 wins last year even with the misery of the early-season Jimmy Butler drama and the midseason firing of Tom Thibodeau. Things are much more settled now and the list of team positives begins with Karl-Anthony Towns, who had another big-time season of growth amid last year’s rubble and should improve. There are two tough young perimeter defenders (Jarrett Culver, Josh Okogie) on the roster and a newly rejiggered bench, with Shabazz Napier, Jake Layman, Noah Vonleh and Jordan Bell providing some depth.