By: Denery Noone, Scott Brock-Wilson, and Justin Lynch
Golden State Warriors--67.5
Denery: Over-- They won the title with KD, now the pressure is off. They will be significantly more loose during the regular season, exerting their dominance all over the NBA.
Scott: Over -- We have hit a point where it is just unfair now.
Lynch: Over--Last year they dealt with the incorporation of KD, and a tough injury to him late in the year. Now, they’ve figured it out, brought in Omri Casspi and Nick Young, and brought pretty much everyone back. This team, barring injury, has no business winning less than 70 games.
Denery: Over-- So much talent, and so much scoring. Now, we learned that they aren’t particularly built for deep playoff runs due to the increased focus on defense, but they will be able to outscore basically everybody in the regular season this year. I am interested how Chris Paul will be incorporated in the offense.
Scott: Over -- The Rockets certainly didn’t get worse from last year, and they don’t have to rely on Harden so much this season. They will improve upon their 55 wins from last season.
Lynch: Over--I’m not sure what the argument is against the over. They may have lost some depth in the Chris Paul trade, but they still have Eric Gordon, Nene, Mbah a Moute, PJ Tucker, and Tarik Black off the bench, and they will always have either Harden or Paul running the show. Even if they can’t play together, Harden and Paul can beat most teams running the show themselves. Especially because their contrasting styles will force teams to guard each of them completely differently. Their defense and synergy are problems for the postseason. The Rockets won 55 games last year, they should be better this year.
San Antonio Spurs--54.4
Denery: Over-- They have won more than 50 games each year since 1999, and they were only under 54 games a mere three times in that period. Odds are they’re going to hit the over.
Scott: Over -- By far the least talented and star powered team of the top five in the league, but I cannot pick against Pop.
Lynch: Over-- I don’t feel great about this, but Kawhi is the MVP-favorite in my book, assuming he doesn’t miss too many games early in the season. I just don’t want to pick against the Spurs, even though the talent isn’t there.
Oklahoma City Thunder--51.5
Denery: Over-- Westbrook actually has proven, legitimate scorers playing with him for the first time since KD left. Not only will his load be lighter, and their outside shooting improve, I think the biggest impact will be on Steven Adams. Adams was a top-5 center in the NBA before KD left, and last year I think there was just too much pressure and focus on him as the only real other scoring threat. The additions of Carmelo and Paul George allow him to return his focus to the defensive side of the ball, and terrorize defenders in the post offensively when asked to.
Scott: Over -- I think this big 3 will work. Westbrook is not a selfish player. He wants to win and stick it to Durant as much as he wanted the MVP and triple-double season last year. Melo and George add much needed offense to the lineup and Patterson was a great signing based on the fit and value. This team improved at least 5 wins. Look for Presti as GM of the year.
Lynch: Over--Westbrook led the Thunder to 47 wins last year, now they have Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, and Steven Adams is ready for a bounce-back year. Billy Donovan is a good coach, and despite their lack of depth, they have the talent to hit the over.
Denery: Over--I’m all in on the Timberwolves. I am a little worried about their outside shooting and I wish they signed Kyle Lowry or George Hill instead of Jeff Teague, but there is way too much talent on this roster for them not to win at least 50 games. I truly believe they are the fifth best team in the west.
Scott: Under -- Barely. I do expect a huge jump from the Bulls. The Butler-KAT duo will be devastating for much of the league to handle. However, I think Wiggins may struggle mightily with this change. He still needs to improve his shooting and cutting as he will have many fewer driving opportunities and much more off ball work.
Lynch: Under--BEST BET--The Wolves will better, but they won 31 games last season. Spacing is a real issue, and by exchanging Rubio for Teague, they lose their biggest distributor. Teague, Towns, Wiggins, and Butler all need the ball, and aren’t great shooters. They will be much better, but the loaded West will take its toll, 50 wins is too many.
Denery: Under-- Not by much though, only about a game. I think they will be really good, and a playoff team, but with the talent in the West, I think they will be around 44-45 wins. I love the addition of Millsap to play alongside Jokic, and it seems as if Mudiay will have a bounceback season. Look for them to be competitive in a loaded West.
Scott: Under -- I love what the Nuggets did this offseason, but everyone improved during the West. The incredible passing frontcourt of Millsap and Jokic is has been overrated and hyped heading into the season. As much as I love Murray, this team still lacks a true point guard and the passing duo upfront will not be able to mask that.
Lynch: Over--40 wins last year was a bit of a surprise, but they bring their young core back plus Paul Millsap. Millsap will bolster a defense that needs help, as he feasts on defenses who sleep on his offensive capabilities. Murray should start at nominal point guard, and anything from Mudiay is a bonus. They should be a top 6-7 seed, and I think 46 wins is doable.
Los Angeles Clippers--43.5
Denery: Under-- I love Pat Beverley, but other than that this team is filled with a bunch of guys who are injury prone. They’ll be lucky to get 50 games out of Gallo and Blake, Deandre still can’t score, and they still have Doc Rivers at the helm.
Scott: Under -- This team will surprise many. I am very excited to see how this team develops.
Lynch: Under--I actually don’t mind the Clippers this season. Beverley is wildly underrated, as is Gallinari. Blake and DeAndre are still really good, and Sam Dekker could surprise people. But they are dangerously thin, and extremely injury prone. Blake is coming off toe surgery, Beverley has a knee, and Gallo already sprained his foot. If they stay healthy, they should go over. That’s too big of an if for me.
Portland Trail Blazers--42.5
Denery: Over: I loved the way they played before Nurkic got hurt last year. I thought he fit really well with Vonleh in the front court, and served as a really nice interior scoring option to take some of the pressure off of Lillard and McCollum. They got rid of one of their bad contracts in Allen Crabbe which will help them in the future, and should they find somewhere for Evan Turner to go, I’ll like them even more. Like I said about Houston, I think they’ll be able to outscore a lot of teams in the regular season and just barely creep over the 42-win mark.
Scott: Over -- I have faith that having Nurkic for a full offseason and hopefully season can improve their record by at least one win. Having him behind McCollum and Lillard is a huge boost to the Blazers defensively. I like Zach Collins, who I look for to have an important contributing role by the end of the year.
Lynch: Under-- They only won 41 games last year, and though Nurkic is an upgrade, he won’t be the monster he was late last season. Losing Allen Crabbe hurts already cramped spacing, as Mo Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu become the floor spacers. The defense is iffy and the West is better.
Denery: Under: I still like the Jazz a lot, I’m a huge fan of Quin Snyder, and they still have some talent. Gobert is still a monster, they added Ricky Rubio and resigned Joe Ingles, but losing Hayward and Hill will be too much to overcome in a loaded West.
Scott: Under -- I am out on the Jazz. People are still holding onto them because of Snyder, Gobert, and Hood, but it won’t be enough this year. Hood will not take the leap into Haywards former role of being an efficient #1 scorer for the team. Rubio is a downgrade from Hill, and the rest of the team remains relatively the same.
Lynch: Under-- I’m just not sure where their points are coming from. Hayward and Hill are gone. Rubio and Hood are their replacements. Favors and Gobert aren’t big scorers, either. They will play slow, smother on defense, but may not have enough buckets in them.
New Orleans Pelicans--39.5
Denery: Under-- I agree with basically everything Justin said. Your primary outside shooting simply cannot come from your bigs. They have nobody at all to the play the wing, they don’t have any money to go out and add someone, and they aren’t well coached enough to overcome their deficiencies.
Scott: Under -- Pelicans are a trainwreck. The Boogie-AD experiment is over after this season (if not beforehand). They still do not have a SF and don’t appear to be finding one in the near future.
Lynch: Under--The Pelicans may be fun, but they won’t be very good. Boogie and Anthony Davis will fit better together in year 1.5, but neither have shown any ability to win games, minus Davis’ brief playoff appearance. I want them to be good, but opponents don’t have to guard the rest of the court, as Jrue Holiday, Rondo, and E'twaun Moore don’t exactly strike fear into defenders. I worry a little, because of the sheer talent of Boogie and Davis, especially with Boogie in a contract year, but I’m going under.
Denery: Over-- They still have Gasol, Conley, and quite possibly a healthy Chandler Parsons. They are one of the best coached teams in the league, and they are finding some surprising young talent late in the draft. They work hard, play defense, and still have enough playmakers offensively to squeak into the playoffs.
Scott: Over -- Too much talent amongst their top 2 to not win 38 games.
Lynch: Over-- Meh. I think Gasol and Conley can drag them to 38 wins. Jamychal Green is good and Wayne Selden is interesting. An injury would hurt, but if Chandler Parsons is going to give them something, they will be ok. Slight over.
Denery: Under-- Dennis Smith is not enough of an addition quite yet to get them over that hump. A perfect scenario for them would be to land a top-five pick and add a guy to play with Smith and Noel for the next 10-years.
Scott: Over -- I like their potential and the addition of McRoberts for depth on the front court. The Nerlens situation was awful, but they have him now. I cannot wait to see the Smith-Nerlens pick & roll with Dirk beyond the arc. Wesley Matthews cannot be much worse than last year and the Mavs should improve slightly even in the tough West.
Lynch: Under--Dirk and Josh McRoberts are their starting bigs. Noel is upset. Seth Curry is out. They have almost zero depth. Dennis Smith is interesting, but how many rookie point guards are effective, especially in the West? Carlisle is a great coach, and a lineup of Smith-Curry-Barnes-Dirk-Noel is enticing, but don’t take the bait.
Los Angeles Lakers--33.5
Denery: Under-- They are one Brook Lopez injury away from winning 15 games next season, honestly. Lonzo is not quite ready to make that much of an impact, and I don’t think Ingram is going to make any massive strides in year two. Other than that, you have a plateaued Jordan Clarkson, a limited Julius Randle, and not much shooting.
Scott: Under -- They have a lot of good pieces, and having Lopez to stretch the floor at the 5 with allow the younger guys more room to work offensively, massively benefiting Randle. KCP provides them with a 3 and D guy to pair next to Lonzo and run the floor with. Sadly, they will still come up short of 34 wins. There is too much talent in the West to make that big of a jump. I am in on Lonzo after watching how he single handedly changed UCLA’s program offensively, but it won’t be enough.
Lynch: Over--I’m drinking the Kool-Aid. Lonzo changes the way an offense functions, and is perfect for Walton’s system. There is a real chance we start wondering how Lonzo wasn’t the unanimous first pick overall this year. Kuzma adds much needed shooting to their plethora of bigs, but so does under-the-radar acquisition Brook Lopez. Lopez singlehandedly dragged the Nets to 21 wins two years ago (and ruined the Celtics’ Ben Simmons hopes), and made things interesting when he played last season. Ingram is better, Randle is better, and KCP adds more shooting. They have no reason to tank. Is 34 wins really asking too much?
Denery: Over-- Surprisingly, I actually think they have enough frontcourt talent to get them to 30 wins. The impact that Cauley-Stein and Labissiere can have is overlooked, and Hield will continue to improve, especially with Fox running the point. Plus, they added George Hill and Zach Randolph for some reason, so they will have some playmakers.
Scott: Under - Kings and Suns are by far the worst two teams in a Western Conference that may be the best conference ever. They will lose a lot of games, but get valuable playing time experience for the young guys.
Lynch: Under--Someone in the West is going to have to lose, and this year it’s going to be Sacramento. De’Aaron-Hield-Malachi-Skal-WCS is awesome. Harry Giles will be fun to keep tabs on. Z-Bo and George Hill will help them through rookie struggles, but they aren’t winning many games.
Denery: Under-- I think they very well know if they can stink for one more year they are going to be set for the next 10-15 years. They are well-formed at the art of tanking, and don’t be surprised if Booker suddenly goes down with some phantom “injury” in the middle of February to guarantee a top-5 pick before the lottery rules change.
Scott: Under -- Bledsoe will be traded by Christmas and the Suns will end up again with a top 5 pick.
Lynch: Under--The West is too good to bet on teams without much talent. Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker could drag them to 30 wins, but the Suns will do everything in their power to move Bledsoe before it comes to that. They will be fun to watch, but, as Denery said, they need another top-5 pick. Just imagine the 2017-18 Suns rolling out Doncic-Booker-Jackson-Chriss-Bender. Yeah. I know. And the Suns know it too. There’s too much incentive to tank.