By: Denery Noone, Scott Brock-Wilson, and Justin Lynch
Lynch: Over: Bogut and Barnes bring more talent to a team that miraculously won 42 games last year, and Wesley Matthews should be healthier this year now two years removed from the achilles injury. Justin Anderson and Seth Curry are solid bench players, and J. J. Barea excels in the system. Carlisle’s one of the best coaches in the NBA, and I’ll grab the over.
Scott: Over: Rick Carlisle is a top three coach in the NBA, adding Bogut will give Nowitzki another bruiser to do his dirty work, Matthews must be better than last year, and Barnes is a key who can add scoring to this lineup. My concern with this team is health related. Nowitzki will obviously need to play limited minutes in the regular season, Bogut struggles to stay healthy, especially when playing big minutes, and Matthews has had trouble staying on the floor after his big injury.
Denery: Under: Unfortunately, the West is too strong and too young a conference for this group of dinosaurs to get to 40 wins. Harrison Barnes, now making the max, is expected to put up offensive numbers that he cannot produce. He thrived in Golden State because he had the presence of Steph, Draymond, and Klay taking attention away from him. Especially when Nowitzki is out of the game, Barnes is going to looked upon to put up huge numbers, and I expect a Jeff Green-like return. They lost Chandler Parsons, Wesley Matthews has not been the same since his achilles injury, Bogut cannot stay healthy, and the rest of their team lacks depth. Look for Dallas to take a fall in 2016-2017.
Lynch: Over: The Nuggets have talent everywhere. They are young, deep, and have something to prove. They won 33 games last year, and their only more talented this season. The West may not be as good, either. I’m not saying the Nuggets will go .500, but I think they improve on last season’s total.
Scott: Over: I honestly don’t like this team overall, but this over/under is staggeringly low for a team that didn’t lose anything last season. This team is still far away from the playoffs, but are certainly capable of 35 wins.
Denery: Over: I love this Nuggets team. Year in and year out, they continue to add strong young players that are ready to contribute right away. Emmanuel Mudiay will be entering his second season, and despite his rookie struggles, it is clear the talent is there. The emergence of Will Barton has been tremendous for this team, the two monsters in the middle Nurkic and Jokic will thrive, and look for Jamal Murray to contribute immediately.
Golden State Warriors--66.5
Lynch: Over: There will be an adjustment period with Durant, they will rest their guys plenty, and they will need to find a way to keep Klay and Draymond happy. A lack of rim protection may hurt them over the 82-game slog, as well. But this team won 73 games last year and added Kevin Durant. This may be the greatest team ever. Who is beating them 16 times?
Scott: Over: They will probably be over 70 wins this season without even over-working the stars. This team, provided health, will be rested for every game as they will not have to play too may minutes (rarely any 4th quarters). It was shocking every time they lost last year, so imagine this year.
Denery: Over: The problem with the Western Conference is that the top dogs are all going to be in the range of 60 wins or above. Last season, the Spurs won 67 games and were a 2-seed. That is just how it goes. The Warriors know that if they want to get home-court advantage in the playoffs, they are going to compete every single night. They have the talent and leadership to do it, they just need to actually try and do it.
Lynch: Over: This seems low to me. They had an insanely disappointing season last year and still won 41 games. They won’t be that bad again, especially with Howard gone. Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson will bolster Mike D’Antoni’s system. They won’t play any defense, but if you can score at will, you will win a lot of regular season games.
Scott: Over: This team has had a whole makeover. Offense. Offense. Offense. This team will only shoot threes and dunks/layups while being one of the top three offenses in the league with D’Antoni at the helm. Defensively, they literally just have Capela, so good luck with that. I can’t bet against a top five player in the NBA to get to .500.
Denery: Over: I am choosing the over here but it is not by much. It is evident that this team cannot play any defense whatsoever. However, they have too much talent offensively, and I believe that Mike D’antoni can push them over the top.
Los Angeles Clippers--53.5
Lynch: Under: I’ve had enough of this Clippers big three, and I think the Clippers have had enough, too. Paul is now 31 and must be getting restless as his window for postseason success is closing rapidly. This team is playing for the playoffs and doesn’t have the depth to go all-out in the regular season. Barring a major shakeup, expect more of the same from the Clippers.
Scott: Over: The Clippers won 53 games last year, the West got weaker (in terms of depth) and this could be their last hoorah. They will want to figure out their best lineups and prove themselves throughout the regular season, which is why I have the over.
Denery: Over: Unfortunately the Clippers are going to win more than 53 games this season. With Blake Griffin being in a contract year, this is the year that the Clippers need to figure out if this is working. There have been rumblings for years that the big-three in LA was going to be disassembled, that it wasn’t working. This team is the third best club in the West at best, but they are going to do everything they can to prove to themselves and the general public that is is working.
Los Angeles Lakers--24.5
Lynch: Under: Reports that Luke Walton lost control as interim head coach in Golden State are scary, but shouldn’t be as big of a deal with a team that just won 17 games and needs direction. The Lakers have some fun, young talent, as well as vets to keep everyone in line. Still, 25 games may be too much, and the Lakers will certainly implement some late-season tanking to make sure they keep their top-3 protected first round pick in a loaded draft.
Scott: Over: The question is if this team is really eight wins better than last season’s Lakers. They are better, but didn’t make enough moves for that to be the case. Obviously, I am curious to see how Ingram develops, but even more so in Zubac. He has looked good in certain moments, and I look forward to seeing him getting more minutes, so we can tell if he is legit.
Denery: Over: In my opinion, the Lakers are one of the most of exciting teams entering the 2016-17 season. Following a year marred by conflict and scrutiny, D’angelo Russell is ready to fill the shoes Kobe Bryant left behind. He is a lethal scorer with a great feel for the offense. Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr. are also continuing to emerge, and the addition of Brandon Ingram will not go unfelt. They have clear defensive limitations, but under the tutelage of Luke Walton with a young and energized core, this team will win more games than expected.
Lynch: Under: Dave Fizdale is getting praise from all angles and seems to be the man for the job. But this team can’t stay healthy. Parsons will likely start the season on a minutes limit, and Gasol is on the wrong side of 30 coming off a bad foot injury. This team has no depth and will look like a D-league team should one of their max players go down. Even at full strength, they are likely a 45-win team, so no reason for me to take the over.
Scott: Over: I know the Grizzlies have to be bad eventually, but we say that every year and it never really happens. They didn’t lose anyone with too much value, while adding Parsons, Deyonta Davis, and Wade Baldwin. Most importantly they will (hopefully) have Conley (56 games) and Gasol (52 games) for more than a combined 108 games this season. Coming off a down year of 42 wins, I think the Grizzlies improved enough for two more victories.
Denery: Under: All it took was a $153 million dollar contract to bring back Mike Conley and destroy and chance of hope for the Grizzlies’ organization for the coming years. Mike Conley is a good player, but he is nowhere near the caliber of player that would warrant the largest contract in league history. The best plan for the Grizzlies would have been to let Conley walk and try to build through the deep drafts in the coming years. However, they resigned Conley, signed the ghost of Chandler Parsons, and started the one and only Andrew Harrison on opening night. They are old and vulnerable with too much to overcome.
Lynch: Under: Thibodeau will run his guys into the ground trying to make the playoffs, but the makeup of this team just doesn’t smell like the playoffs are in store for them this season. For one, they have way too many big men, and will likely have to play two at a time, cramping spacing in the middle They have a rookie point guard (who can’t shoot) battling for playing time against a veteran point guard (who also can’t shoot). Wiggins still can’t shoot, and if Zach LaVine is one of your best shooters, you may be in trouble. They will be super solid on defense, they will protect the rim and hound the perimeter. Towns is a monster, and Wiggins is an A+ sidekick. But they won 29 games last year, and only added guys that will make Towns’ job more difficult. Thibs is a great coach, but I worry about him as a GM. I think the Wolves will be around 38-40 wins, so I lean to the under.
Scott: Under: I know this team may be the future of the NBA, but a 13 win jump this season seems a little much in my mind. They will be fighting it out to get into the playoffs, but most likely will come up short. Towns will have another monster season, while Wiggins needs to improve his shooting in order to help the Wolves space the floor. I want to see Rubio traded mid season in order for Dunn to grow and learn with Wiggins and Towns.
Denery: Under: It is simply too early for these guys. They absolutely have the talent to become a monster in the West, but they are a year or two away from that. They finally got their point guard, the guy to replace the underachieving Rubio. However, Dunn is a rookie, Towns is merely in his second year, and the guy with the most experience out of their big-three is in his third year with an inconsistent jump shot. These guys are going to be great. Eventually. They need a little more time to develop, and once they do they are going to haunt the rest of the NBA.
New Orleans Pelicans--36.5
Lynch: Over: I do not feel good about this at all. But the 2015-16 Pelicans were ravaged by injury, and left Anthony Davis playing with a cast of D-Leaguers. They are back healthy this year, and picked up some decent role players along the way. I’m not the biggest Solomon Hill fan, but E'twaun Moore and and Langston Galloway are decent, and we’ll see what Buddy Hield can do (though I’m not hopeful). However, Anthony Davis will bounce back in a big way and could lead this team back to 40 wins.
Scott: Under: This is one of the tougher ones to predict. I hope Davis can bounce back and put this team on his shoulders once again like he did in the 2014-15 season. But with that being said, when comparing this year’s Pelicans team to last year’s Pelicans team, when both rosters are healthy, I honestly think last year’s may be better. If anything were to happen to Davis the Pelicans will turn into a dumpster fire again, which is why I am taking the under.
Denery: Under: Here is the problem with the Pelicans, they do not have anybody else. At least last year they had Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon, and they still lost 52 games. They lost both those guys and they did not add much. Davis is really the only player on that team with any ability to contribute, and they still can’t play defense. It is hard to see them winning 37 games.
Oklahoma City Thunder--45.5
Lynch: Over: Westbrook is too good to bet against over the course of the regular season, especially considering his extra motivation to lead this team to as many wins as possible. Oladipo and Adams should thrive in contract years, and Enes Kanter is still a solid option offensively. They need Cam Payne to step up, and they are lacking shooting, but they will still be solid, at least in the regular season.
Scott: Over: This will be closer than many imagine purely because I am not sure Westbrook will be able to go full beast mode for the whole season. I like their potential five big man rotation of Adams, Kanter, Ilyasova, Lauvergne, and Sabonis, along with the incredible defensive backcourt of Westbrook and Oladipo, but the question is where the shooting will come from.
Denery: Over: This is one of the easier picks in this entire set. Not only is it almost impossible to pick against Westbrook who is a statistical monster, but this entire team is going to be on a mission throughout the regular season. I can see them being one of the best regular season teams in the West this season for that reason.
Lynch: Over: Bad injury luck and a disappointing Tyson Chandler put the Suns in the league’s cellar last season. They still managed 23 wins, and should at least get to 27 this season. Bledsoe is back, Dudley was brought in, and Chandler won’t be that bad again. Bender and Chriss aren’t ready yet, but maybe T. J. Warren is. I’m not sold on Earl Watson as coach, but I’ll take the over.
Scott: Over: This won’t be close. With Bledsoe, Knight and Booker in the backcourt to go along with the additions of Bender, Chriss and Dudley, the Suns are trending in the right direction. I expect them to be able to reach 30 wins as this young core of player, including Len, will continue to grow.
Denery: Under: For some reason, I believe that at the first sign of trouble this team is going to blow it up. Bledsoe, Knight, and probably Chandler will all be shipped out of town to try and maximize their stock in this loaded 2017 draft, and they will start truly building around Booker, Chriss and Bender. This team needs to lose as many games as possible now to add a few more star studded pieces to go along with their already great core, and i think that is what will happen this season.
Portland Trail Blazers--46.5
Lynch: Over: This was a tough one. Under Terry Stotts, this team gelled and will look to improve on last season’s 44 wins. This may be Celtics-West, without the stinginess on defense. Still, I worry about Evan Turner, and they will certainly dump one of their overpaid wings to appease luxury tax penalties next season. I don’t feel great about it, but I’ll believe in Portland to get to 47 wins.
Scott: Under: Everything seemed to fall right for the Blazers last season. They remained mostly healthy for the entirety of the season, to go along with some other Western Conference teams struggling unexpectedly (Rockets, Pelicans). The Blazer will not be able to pull off another season like that with how the roster is currently constructed.
Denery: Over: Just like Toronto, Boston, and Oklahoma City, the Portland Trail Blazers are a regular season team. Night in and night out these guys are going to go 110% trying to accumulate the wins and improve their playoff stock before they are inevitably ousted by the Warriors. Also, it does not hurt having Damian Lillard running the show. They have a deep roster with one of the best point guards in the league, do not be surprised if they win upwards of 52-ish games.
Lynch: Under: Theoretically, this should be a decent Kings team. Dave Joerger is a good coach, Collison and Lawson are good fits for Cousins, and Arron Afflalo will help space the floor. But the Kings always manage to screw things up. Rudy Gay is half way out the door, and I’m not sure it was a great idea to bring Ty Lawson into a locker room with Boogie. Willie Cauley-Stein is fun, but does he fit with Boogie? It was a close call, but I feel better betting against Sacramento.
Scott: Under: It’s not the fact that they are worse now than they were last season, or that they had one of the weirdest drafts ever with the exception of Malachi Richardson, but because I think this is the season the Kings go boom. We have been waiting several years for it to erupt, and many thought it may be last year, but I believe that what can go wrong will for the Kings this year. They have 5 centers on the roster when they only really need one. I mean the Kings just don’t know how to win.
Denery: Over: The Sacramento Kings are an absolute mess, but 32 is simply too low of a number. The only thing I can really say about it is that somehow with Demarcus Cousins this team is going to win at least 33 games.
San Antonio Spurs--56.5
Lynch: Under: The Spurs have won at least 55 games five of the past six seasons. They won 67 last year, but they are old. Aldridge, Gasol, Manu, Parker, and David Lee are on the wrong side of 30, and with checkered injury histories. Pop will have his team ready, but how will they fare without Duncan? Reports that the organization wants Aldridge out set the team up for a potential major shakeup midway through the year. I certainly don’t feel great about it, but I’ll take the under.
Scott: Over: Yes they’ll be worse than last year and struggle with rim protection, but it’s not like everyone left, just Duncan. They added Gasol, Lee and possibly the steal of the draft in Murray. People are complaining about Aldridge, but it’s not like he’s terrible all of the sudden. He is still a top 20 player in the NBA. Finally, we can’t forget about Leonard. He is what makes this team go and will bring them to 57 wins.
Denery: Over: Will they be able to match their 67 win total of last season? No. But they are definitely going to win at least 57. To some degree, this team has to stay somewhat on par with what the Warriors are doing, and even though Pop loves to rest his guys we all know that they would love that number one seed. They have so much talent across the board, and Aldridge is going to have a monster year in his second season in San Antonio.
Lynch: Under: Even though Gobert, Favors, and Burks missed significant time last season, this team still won 40 games. They added Exum and George Hill to sure up their weak spot, and now are everyone’s pick to rise up in the West. But Hayward will start the year injured, and trade rumors surrounding Hayward could cause some uneasiness, as his new contract looms. Rodney Hood is really good, and this team will have a top defense, but I’m not sure they can score enough to win 50 games quite yet.
Scott: Over: Like last year, the Jazz are everyone’s sexy pick this year. I think Hayward will really hurt them early on, but that they will be able to overcome that. With him in the lineup, they seem to have no holes. I don’t believe they’ll make huge strides like some, but they’ll do just enough. I like the Jazz to be able to just squeak out 48 wins.
Denery: Over: I am going to say over here, but it is really close. 47.5 games is a lot to expect out of a young team, but they without a doubt have the talent to do it. Gordon Hayward is coming back soon to go along with an emerging star in Rodney Hood and a highly talented George Hill. Oh, and don’t forget about the big guys, Favors and Gobert are monsters. It is going to be close but this team is going to squeak out the over here.