- FrostedTakes is running a three part series to preview the upcoming NBA season. Myself and staff writer K (who wants to remain anonymous, but I’ve never been one for secrets: he is Tommy Lee Jones from Men In Black) will each be predicting the final standings for each conference, whether we would bet the over or under on every team’s win total, and the biggest awards handed out at the end of the season. Today we start with the Eastern Conference. Make sure you check out K’s East projections as well.
- 1. Celtics O/U 56.5
I’m taking the under but still think Boston will end up with the first seed in the East. This is simply more a product of the situation in Cleveland. Isaiah Thomas is expected to make his debut by January, but I think the Cavs will be extra cautious since they blatantly don’t care about the regular season. Speaking of them not caring about the regular season, they don’t try in the regular season since getting the top seed is irrelevant to them seeing as how they can sleep walk their way to the two seed. However, I’m sure that Boston cares much more about the top seed and having home court advantage in a potential Conference Finals rematch.
Why am I taking the under? I’m sure you heard in the playoffs last year that the Celtics had the worst point differential ever by a one seed. Their 2.7 +/- got them 53 wins. In 2015-2016 the Hornets posted 48 wins with a 2.7 +/-. Now, hey, this Celtics team has some new faces but it also is not nearly as deep. They also had two of their three best defenders leave in the offseason via trade. I would put Boston as the 6th best team in the NBA, so I’m not saying they got worse — they might have gotten better, and we get to find out soon. But with two major new faces comes a get-to-know-you period, and Jason Tatum will be getting meaningful minutes, and most rookies are bad so I just don’t see how the Celtics hit 57 wins or more.
- 2. Cavs O/U 53.5
The Cavs won 51 games last season and had Kyrie the entire time. Now they get half a season of Isaiah Thomas and need to pick up 3 extra wins to hit this over. Also, this is a team that doesn’t care about the regular season. Under.
- 3. Wizards O/U 47.5
Kevin Pelton’s win projection for the Wizards next year is 47.5 wins, so, good job Vegas, or Kevin, I’m not really sure. The Wizards have a chip on their shoulder going into this season and I’m pretty excited to watch an angry John Wall. Washington believes they have added enough to their bench to get them into really contending for the conference crown. I don’t agree, but having John Wall and Bradley Beal basically gets you to the 3 seed in this East by default. I think the Wizards have the talent to never really slip up against the bottom of the conference, which should get them to the over.
- 4. Raptors O/U 48.5
I have the Raptors at 4 and nothing about it feels right. You will probably never meet a bigger Kyle Lowry fan than myself (#lowryoverkyrieallday) but this team lost Carroll, Patterson, and Tucker for nothing. They brought in CJ Miles and despite it feeling like 15 years later, Bruno Caboclo is no longer two years away from being two years away and is on the roster. They clearly have faith in Norman Powell, which is fine, but at age 31 when does Lowry begin to slip? And is this team built well enough to withstand him being out for an extended absence this year? Under.
- 5. Bucks O/U 47.5
The Bucks won 42 games last season with a negative point differential, -0.2, which gave them a 40 win expectation. Just like everyone else in the world I think about James Young’s dunk against UConn on a daily basis, but what did this team add to essentially push them up 8 wins to hit this over? The only way this happens is if Giannis takes another leap forward and enters the top-8 player hierarchy, accompanied by a pretty substantial improvement from Thon Maker. Parker might give them a boost when he gets back in February, but that’s in February and he will be returning from his second ACL tear. Under.
- 6. Hornets O/U 42.5
Apparently there are internal team projections that have the Hornets as high as the 4 seed in the East. Zach Lowe mentioned this on one of his podcasts. In that same episode, he mentioned how the Hawks players screamed in celebration when they found out Dwight got traded. Forget the win total Over/Under, I want to know the Vegas Over/Under for how many games are played before Jordan gives Dwight the Josh Smith and tells him he hates him so much that Dwight needs to just disappear, but will still pay Howard every dime. However, betting the under means the Hornets are essentially a .500 team, which I don’t believe to be true. I do think they will be above .500 and by more than just a single game. Over. And yes, I think about the Kemba step back every day as well.
- 7. Heat O/U 43.5
This one is really tough. I actually think the Heat have 9 solid rotation guys and that doesn’t even include Bam who I am bullish on. Last season, you probably know, the Heat went 11-30 before ripping off a 30-11 record and missing the playoffs on a tiebreaker. Historical data suggests that when a team has such a large split like the Heat, the following season the team performs at the winning percentage of the entire season and not at one of the extremes. The Heat won 41 games with a 1.1 point differential so they were more like a 42 win team meaning they have to scrounge up 2 wins to hit this over. I guess I have enough faith in Spo to figure out how to grab two wins to project the over here.
- 8. 76ers O/U 42.5
Under. I am super excited to watch the 6ers this season, but any reasonable prediction has to be the under here. If Embiid goes down the odds of hitting the over are 0%. Even if he plays 50 games the odds of this over hitting are slim. Rookies are normally bad and the 6ers will be getting heavy minutes from Fultz and Simmons and there just isn’t a ton of shooting on this team. Kevin Pelton’s win projections have the 6ers winning 33.2 games. I think (blindly) we will get enough games out of Embiid this season that Philadelphia will get into the playoffs and that Sam Hinkie will be vindicated. But, under, hard.
- 9. Magic O/U 33.5
It appears I am more bullish on the Magic than everyone else since I am the only one with them higher than the Pistons. I’m not even going to sit here and tell you that Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton are going to take huge leaps this season. I just think the Magic, with the additions of Jonathon Simmons and Marreese Speights, and some improvement from both Gordon and Payton will be a more competitive team than people are envisioning. I think the Magic finally realize that Aaron Gordon needs to just play power forward where he is much more effective. I just like some of these pieces, perhaps irrationally, but they get me more excited than what is in Detroit. I’m basically forcing myself to take the over here since the 9th team in the East will more than likely win more than 33 games (although, it is the East). Over.
- 10. Pistons O/U 38.5
What am I missing? The Pistons won 37 games last season on a -1.1 point differential and they had KCP on the team. They don’t anymore. If you are going to be a dive to the rim center in the NBA then you need to be really good on defense. Andre Drummond is not good on defense. I feel like this entire situation has slow start that becomes a bad 30 something games resulting in SVG getting fired mid season written all over it. And I think SVG is a good coach. Under.
- 11. Nets O/U 28.5
I guess I’m more bullish on the Nets than the rest of the world as well since everyone else has them behind the Pacers and Knicks. However I really like what they did in the offseason. DeMarre Carroll’s contract may be terrible but he is still a useful NBA player that the Nets got for free. Allen Crabbe, another useful NBA player the Nets got for free, shot 44% last season from 3-point range. He may regress more toward his career average, but that now sits at 41.2%. Over the last two seasons, in 160 total games, on 586 attempts, Crabbe has shot 41.79% from three.
Oh, and they traded for D’Angelo Russell. I am going to die on D’Angelo Russell hill and I am maybe the only person left that thinks he has star potential in there somewhere, but I’m fine with that. He may never be a good defender, which is a bad start, and his career 3-point percentage is 35.1%, which is a really bad start for someone whose best attribute is his shooting. However, I just have blind confidence Russell will make his way north of 40% shooting from three and make more progress as a distributor.
Also Jeremy Lin has dreads so that’s sweet. Over.
12. Pacers O/U 31.5
I think that Oladipo, Thad Young and my boy Myles Turner can cobble together at least 30 wins. 32? I guess in the East I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. Over and I don’t feel good about it.
- 13. Knicks O/U 30.5
In what universe are the Knicks hitting this over? They won 31 games last season and had Carmelo Anthony on the team. In two seasons Porzingis has missed a total of 26 games. He could play 82 games this year, but let’s just very simply guess he is going to miss 13 games this season. If the Over/Under on those 13 games was set at 0.5 wins I’d bet the under. So there are 13 losses. To hit the over they would have to go 31-38 in the remaining games which is a win percentage that would make them a 36.84 win team on the season. Firm under.
- 14. Hawks O/U 25.5
The Hawks got rid of Dwight Howard; they’re the real 2017-2018 champions. Over?
- 15. Bulls O/U 21.5
This 21.5 Over/Under should be in reference to if Zach LaVine can jump over 21.5 feet in the air. Before the ACL tear I would have taken the over. Bulls win total? Under. When you have no point guard and no shooting you’re not winning many games.