2020-2021 NBA Win Totals: Eastern Conference Preview
2019-2020 Record: 48-24
Additions: Tristan Thompson, Jeff Teague, Aaron Nesmith
Subtractions: Enes Kanter, Gordon Hayward
Total Wins: 45
We'll start our preview of the Eastern Conference of the NBA with the Celtics. Gordon Hayward might have helped this team win 4, maybe 5 games over the course of last season. He had a couple of nights where he was lights out shooting and put the team over the top. But let’s remember he missed 20 regular-season games before he got hurt again in the playoffs. His on-again/off-again participation caused waves with Brown and Tatum’s flow, and net-net he will not be missed.
The spotlights are now firmly fixed on Misters Brown and Tatum to take this team by the scruff of the neck and move them to the top of the heap in the East. I think they will, along with an underrated supporting cast of players like Daniel Theis and Grant Williams. I also think the addition of Tristan Thompson will give them the rebounding that has been the Achilles’ heel of this crew for the past few years.
The one thing that could derail this is the health of Kemba Walker. Along with B&T, he’ll have to pick up Hayward’s scoring, which MJ whisked away to Carolina with his insane $120,000,000 contract. (That’s a lot of zeros for a guy that was an explosive slasher but now has no explosion left in his battered body.) If Kemba’s knee that acted up all last year gets worse, the ache he felt might expand out to over 45 backers.
Bet: OVER 45, 3.5 Stacks
2019-2020 Record: 35-37
Additions: Kevin Durant (kind of); Jeff Green
Subtractions: Jamal Crawford, Michael Beasley, Wilson Chandler
Total Wins: 45
KD is going to be on a mission. He has been hearing people talking trash about him as a person and as a basketball player (at least, in the past tense). He’s pissed off and ready to show the world KD again. Unlike Jimmy Butler or LeBron or AD who aren’t going to awaken from their hibernations until early March, KD is very well rested and chomping at the bit to start ballin’ again.
His supporting cast is pretty damn good. Dinwiddie and LeVert are “for real” players. In today’s “damn the 2s, full 3s ahead” NBA, Joe Harris and his shooting are exactly what the algorithm ordered. Jarret Allen is a nice mobile D and rebounding piece. You put all those things together and you have a nice team.
The big question mark, at least for me, is their point guard, one Kyrie Irving. Kyrie you say? Kyrie Irving – the former #1 pick, multi-time All-Star, NBA champion, that Kyrie Irving? Yes, that Kyrie Irving; he’s a team killer.
Over the course of his Boston career, the Celtics 37-19 without him in the line-up, 104-60 with him. In his last year in Beantown, the team went 12-3 without him and were just above .500 with him in it. Last year in Brooklyn, the Nets were 8-12 when he played, 18-19 when he didn’t.
All that being said, I think early in the season, Kyrie is going to be an extra good boy, and the Nets will make the over.
Bet: OVER 45, 3 Stacks
2019-2020 Record: 43-30
Additions Seth Curry, Danny Green, Dwight Howard, Doc Rivers, Daryl Morey
Subtractions: Al Horford, Josh Richardson, Zhaire Smith
Total Wins: 43
Their home/away splits last year were completely bonkers, as they went 27-2 at home and 9-21 on the road (pre-Bubble). I’m sorry, but if you can be that good at home, you have to at least be mediocre on the road. Did you miss your blankie, Joel, or your mommy, Ben? Did Coach Brett not make nice when all the Sixers were homesick last year? I mean seriously 27-2 at home and 9-21 on the road – that’s a snapshot of immaturity.
Well, Coach Brett is gone, and Coach Doc is now in charge. We’re going to see if he can fix the Sixers’ travel sickness. I’m personally not the prez of the Doc fan club, but I’m sure he will get more out of the club than Brown, who, towards the end of his stay, was tuned-out by his players.
One of the other issues that afflicted them last year was shooting. When JJ Redick saddled up and moved to the Big Easy, they were missing gunslingers beyond the arc in the 2019-2020 season. This offseason, they went out and got Danny Green and Seth Curry during their frenzied shopping period. Danny Green not only brings rainbow 3s but also a veteran maturity that might ease the Sixers’ rollercoaster existence.
Listen…everything I said is all fine and well, but the biggest factor when it comes to this bunch is health. Simmons played 57 games last year, which is pretty good for him, and Embiid suited up for 51. If you’re taking the over on this team, you’re hoping to get similar, if not slightly better, participation numbers from these two.
Bet: OVER 43, 1 Stack
2019-2020 Record: 53-19
Additions: Aron Baynes
Subtractions: Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol, The city of Toronto
Total Wins: 41
41? Yes, they lost Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, and no one will have to “Fear The North” and their wild crowd (okay, wild for Canadians). But come on…41 wins?? They won 53 games last year and have gone over on the total for 8 STRAIGHT YEARS.
It’s not as though the cupboard is completely bare. Pascal Siakam may not have the glitz of some stars, but he is one. He may not have the playoff resume of some stars (he gagged in the Celtics series), but we’re talking regular season, not playoffs.
The team’s top four scorers are back, and 7 of the 9 players in their rotation are back. Aron Baynes will compensate and, in my mind, exceed what Marc Gasol did last year. (Don’t forget that Gasol only played 41 games during the 2019-2020 season.)
The final thing to remember is that “the trend is your friend” and the Raptors have gone over the total for 8 straight years.
Bet: OVER 41, 4 Stacks
New York Knicks
2019-2020 Record: 21-45
Additions: Obi Toppin, Tom Thibodeau, Nerlens Noel, Austin Rivers
Subtractions: A bunch of useless spare parts
Total Wins: 22.5
They do not have very much talent. RJ Barrett showed flashes. I am, and always have been, a huge Julius Randle fan. It may not be the ballet, but Julius works hard and gives you numbers every night. Mitchell Robinson is an effective big and Obi Toppin could be good but we’ll have to see – the A-10 is a long way from the NBA.
As I said, there isn’t much there on the roster. On the bench, at least for me, is a huge upgrade, the great Mister Tibs – Tom Thibodeau. Tibs will drive this team hard, and the first year with a new team can be a blessing for his style. Tibs won 61 his first year in Chicago and though not as successful, his Timberwolves team won more games his first year than the year before.
Bet: OVER 22.5, 3.5 Stacks
2019-2020 Record: 44-29
Additions: Avery Bradley
Subtractions: Jae Crowder, Derrick Jones Jr.
Total Wins: 43
“No respect I tell ya, no respect at all” was once the catchphrase of the great Rodney Dangerfield. Those words also ring true when looking at the 43 total attached to the Miami Heat. They won 44 games last year, went on an epic run to the NBA finals, and stared LeBron & Co. in the face before succumbing with Bam and Dragić hampered by injury.
Two out of the three best players on this team are kids, with Bam Adebayo only being 23 and Tyler Herro an outrageous 20. This duo seemed to be getting better every day throughout the playoffs – what in the world makes someone think this team is going to regress?
Fatigue is the answer. This team battled with everything they had to get to the finals and the offseason is so damn short. I didn’t know if they had enough time to let their bodies heal.
I was getting ready to fade the Heat, thinking they were going to have a 46 or 47 number. But when I saw 43, it made me pause. I love the players, the coach, and the organization here. But I know at the same time that, throughout the season, too much basketball and not enough rest is going to bite them in the backside.
Bet: OVER 43, 1 Stack
2019-2020 Record: 20-47
Additions: Dario Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanović, Rajon Rondo, Kris Dunn, Onyeka Okongwu
Subtractions: Jeff Teague, DeAndre' Bembry
Total Wins: 35.5
I love Trae Young, and I love Trae Young highlights, and I love Trae Young box scores. But I don’t know if I love Trae Young when I’m betting the over on an NBA team. He is a great player, BUT in the years that he’s been with the Hawks, they have been straight-up awful. The powers that be are looking for the Hawks to take a huuuuuge jump from last year to this one. And it remains to be seen if that’s feasible or not.
There is good reason for optimism. In an NBA that is all about shooting, they have added two great shooters in Bogdanović and Gallinari. They added Clint Capela just before COVID hit, and that should beef up their inside presence. John Collins is healthy, De'Andre Hunter won’t be a rookie anymore, and they snagged Okungwu, who rocketed up the draft board and is primed for a strong rookie season.
They have all the pieces in place to be an NBA playoff team, but I’ll have to see Trae Young stacking up Ws with my own eyes and not just nut-mug highlights and triple-doubles.
Bet: UNDER 35.5, 1 Stack
2019-2020 Record: 33-40
Additions: Cole Anthony
Subtractions: D.J. Augustin
Total Wins: 31
Is there a more boring team in the NBA than the Orlando Magic? Is there one player on this team that makes you stop from channel surfing? Have the words “I can’t wait to see what Evan Fournier does tonight” ever been spoken? Be honest, their most famous player, Mo Bamba, isn’t famous from playing basketball, but because of a lyric in a song.
Enough of my diatribe. Because we all know bookies don’t pay off because of personality or flair – it’s all about wins and losses.
The Magic won 33 games last year and should be pretty well rested after a short stint in their hometown Bubble. They have their entire team back from last year with minimal additions and subtractions.
With them winning 33 games last year, logic would dictate a small bet on over 31, but I believe one thing – in sports and in life: you’re either going forwards or moving backward. The Magic did not go forwards since last year, so they must be moving backward.
Bet: UNDER 31, 1.5 Stacks
2019-2020 Record: 23-42
Additions: Gordon Hayward, LaMelo Ball, LaVar Ball
Subtractions: Bismarck Biyombo
Total Wins: 26.5
Michael Jordan and Mitch Kupchak are the worst owner/GM combo in the NBA. Keep selling Air Jordans, Mike – you gotta make up a lot of money for how you toss it around as an owner. $120 million for Gordon Hayward, are you nuts? Celtics announcer and NBA legend Brian Scalabrine was asked before the Hayward opt-out what the Butler grad would do with his contract. And Scalabrine said, “Of course, he’s getting to opt-in for $32 million for one year. I think the free-agent market for him is like 1 year at $12 million.”
The Hornets kind of had a good thing going last year. Devonte' Graham emerged from the shadows and had a massive surprise year. P.J. Washington had a B+/A- rookie year. Terry Rozier was scary at times, and they bagged the #3 pick in the draft. I wouldn’t say the future looked bright, but it wasn’t pitch black for one of the league’s worst franchises.
Then the last 30 days hit, and the ineptitude of this franchise showed up with a glaring spotlight on it. First, they sign Hayward to the league’s most bloated contract, and then they draft LaMelo Ball. MJ, do you know his dad? Did you see his brother tank in the NBA as a #2 pick? Just two insanely dumb decisions.
I know. I’m not the one who had to pay Hayward, and his production might actually help a team as bad as the Hornets. Maybe he stays healthy and being the #1 option puts pep back in his game. You never know. But that sure as hell isn’t the way it looks to me.
Bet: UNDER 26.5, 2 Stacks
2019-2020 Record: 25-47
Additions: Russell Westbrook, Deni Avdija, Robin Lopez
Subtractions: John Wall
This team looked a lot different before their blockbuster trade with Houston when they swapped John Wall (who hadn’t played in two years), his massive contract, and a first-round for the man with ridiculous fashion, Russell Westbrook. While it’ll be nice to have a star who has actually played in the past two years, it remains to be seen how Russ will actually fit with Bradley Beal, another player who absolutely needs the ball at all times. Regardless, we’ll be seeing lots of chucking and not a lot of defense.
Outside of the BIG 2, there’s…not much. This team is a mess and has the potential to be the runaway worst team in the NBA this season. When scanning the roster, I would say Thomas Bryant is their most exciting player. That ain’t good.
Maybe Scott Brooks can make it work with Beal, Westbrook, and a revolving door of spare parts. Maybe Bradley Beal has had enough of losing, pushes his game to the next level, and finds a way to co-exist with Russ. Unfortunately, I just don’t see that happening.
This team is not going to be good, and the front office should be thinking about what lucky charm they want to bring to the Lottery Show next year.
Bet: UNDER 33.5, 3 Stacks
2019-2020 Record: 56-17
Additions: Jrue Holiday, D.J. Augustin
Subtractions: Robin Lopez, Eric “Drew” Bledsoe, George Hill
Total Wins: 49
Will they win seven fewer games than they won last year? I don’t think so. If you looked at the change in the roster from year to year, you would say no way. They traded Eric Bledsoe and got Jrue Holiday in return, a huge upgrade. They lost George Hill, which might bite them in the backside on a few nights, but they added Torrey Craig, who gives them more grit and D.
If you look at these changes, I would say they might be a few games better. But the linemakers have them down 7 games, so, as the kids say, “what the what?”
Well, I think it comes down to two things.
First, the perception is that the Bucks had learned a lesson the last two years by winning so many games during the regular season and so few in the playoffs. The bookies think they would keep their foot off the gas during the regular season to have some left in post. It makes sense, it truly does, and it remains to be seen how it plays out.
Second is that the intrigue surrounding Giannis and the super-max is going to have heads spinning in Beer City and lead to losses piling up. Once again, a very legitimate concern.
I fall in the camp (which I often do) of “I don’t know.” On paper, it’s laughable that the number is 49; on the court, it might be different.
Bet: OVER 49, 1.5 Stacks
2019-2020 Record: 45-28
Additions: Nate Bjorkgren
Subtractions: Nate McMillan
Total Wins: 39.5
I’m sorry, but 39.5 for the Pacers is a ridiculous number. This is a team that can win this division if the Bucks decide to sleepwalk the regular season. They have the type of roster that could make the finals if everything comes together. They must be criminally underrated because they’re in Indy and no one gives a toss about Indy.
You would think when a team has a win total 5.5 less then the number of games they won the year before, that they would have had a negative roster shift. That is not the case. In fact, they should be getting their best player, Victor Oladipo, back at full strength, which automatically makes them better.
In fact, when you glance back at the Pacers in 2018-2019, they were 31-15 before Oladipo went down. This team, with the double-double machine Sabonis and the ever-improving T.J. Warren, are a vastly better team than the 2018-2019 edition, who were playing .660 basketball when the former Hoosier went down with the knee injury.
Bet: OVER 39.5, 5 Stacks
2019-2020 Record: 22-43
Additions: Billy Donovan, Patrick Williams
Subtractions: Jimmy Boylen (isn’t the subtraction of Jimmy Boylen really an addition?), Kris Dunn
Total Wins: 30
The Bulls are a mega tease.
You look at the uniforms and think of Jordan-Pippen and winning. You look to the sidelines and think of Phil. I really believe this illusion always has the Bulls overrated by a few games in the win total every year. Let me tell you something, folks, they didn’t call it “The Last Dance” for nothing. It’s over (and has been over) for more than 20 years.
You look at the roster and think, “Wow, this team should be pretty good.” LaVine is a buckets machine. Porter and Carter are finally healthy and should give them a solid frontline. Markkanen had a great rookie campaign and even though he plateaued in year two, he was still pretty good. Coby White had a good rookie year and looks to break out this year. You put all that in a blender, and it looks like 34-36 wins and a shot at the playoffs. But when you put it into a glass, it tastes like 24-26 wins and the lottery.
Maybe Billy Donovan can teach them how to be cohesive winners in a way Jim Boylen couldn’t come close to. But history tells me that won’t be the case with this crew.
Bet: UNDER 30, 2 Stacks
2019-2020 Record: 20-46
Additions: Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, Jerami Grant, Jahlil Okafor, DeWayne Dedmon, Mason Plumlee
Subtractions: Luke Kennard, Reggie Jackson
Total Wins: 24
At first glance, a not very intelligent person might say something like… “Wow 24 wins?? They won 20 last year, and Blake Griffin only played 18 games. Derrick Rose is back being Derrick Rose, plus they have six extra games to get to 24 in a 72-game season! I love the over.”
That…is what a not-so-intelligent person would think. The intelligent person would say D-Rose and Blake “the trainer puncher” Griffin will never play a whole lot of games in one season. As players turn 30, they play less and less…not more and more.
An intelligent person would also say that behind these brittle veterans is the worst roster in the NBA. With Blake and Rose sitting on the sidelines in street clothes texting their friends, who are you gonna go to in crunch time? Thon Maker? Jahlil Okafor?? Mason Plumlee???
Pistons fans will be scouring 2021 mock draft lists by Presidents’ Day.
Bet: UNDER 24, 3 Stacks
2019-2020 Record: 19-56
Additions: Isaac Okoro, JaVale McGee
Subtractions: Jordan Clarkson, Tristan Thompson
Total Wins: 22
They’ll be better than they were last year. Collin Sexton will be better. Darius Garland will be better. Andre Drummond will be better than Tristan Thompson. J.B. Bickerstaff will be better for this team than John Beilein. Kevin Love will probably be about the same.
Are they going to challenge for the playoffs? I doubt it, but you never know how much kids can jump from one year to the other. It’s hard to say how much NBA production you’re going to get out of a 19-year-old, but you never know – Isaac Okoro might turn out to be Donovan Mitchell, and the Cavs could sneak into the playoffs.
This team will not be great by any stretch of the imagination, but they’ll be better than last year.
Bet: OVER 22, 2 Stacks
The Last Word
Here are the 3 I won’t be touching: Sixers 43 wins, Heat 43 wins, and Hawks 35.5 wins.