I hope you still have some money left. Over time, odds change based on where the bets are coming in, and I would like to personally thank everyone who caused the Hawks over odds to become +110. Check it out under my favorite bet of this column. There are also a few other bets I like here; Orlando and Miami are both 40ish win floor teams who could easily fall in the mid-40s and hit their over. Charlotte and Washington have well-placed lines that are tough to commit to. Washington has Bradley Beal locked up and he could drag them to 30 wins despite their lack of supporting talent. Charlotte has a very low total, but they have enough competent NBA players where I could see them winning enough to hit the over.
Favorite: Atlanta not hitting their over a +110. I think this is my overall favorite bet in the entire league. Before looking at the odds, I considered this a strong bet, but to have positive odds, that’s insane to me. The Hawks are atrocious everywhere on defense, they will be playing a lot of young players, and they do not have a second primary ball-handler outside of Trae Young. I’m betting my house on this one.
Least Favorite: I would still stay from Charlotte. They could end up being the worst team in the league, but it is just very hard to predict them to finish with less than 23 wins in a season. There are more scenarios where they end up winning more than 23 than there are them winning less.
Still a solid bet: Orlando hitting their over at -120. Orlando has a high ceiling. If a lot of things go right, they can be a 50-win team. I think their floor is around 42 wins, and they will likely finish somewhere in between. Despite the odds not being that good at -120, I would still take this bet.
Check out the individual previews below. Totals and odds from https://www.betonline.ag/sportsbook:
Atlanta Hawks: 34.5
The Hawks are looking like they will be one of the most fun League Pass teams this year. They made some solid moves this offseason by adding rookies DeAndre Hunter and Cam Reddish in the draft. Hunter might be able to contribute as a 3 and D player right away, while Reddish is more of a high ceiling/low floor player. However, if there was a perfect environment for Reddish to become a good NBA player, this is it. Reddish will have plenty of catch and shoot opportunities, he will be able to play fast, and he will enjoy floor spacing that Duke was not able to provide for him. The Hawks do have a big hole at backup point guard though, and they have a lot of replacement level options at center, but no true, quality starter. Not having 48 minutes of starter level point guard and center play, plus them being still very young up and down the roster, leads me to think they will lose a lot of close games. The best version of this team is all based around the progression of the young guys. Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, and John Collins will all likely be better offensive players, but I cannot see any of them getting to league average on defense. They also lack a creator for the non-Trae Young minutes, likely trusting non-efficient guys like Jabari Parker and Evan Turner there. The absolute lack of defense and a second creator puts a pretty hard ceiling on this team.
Prediction: 31 wins
Charlotte Hornets: 23.5
Charlotte will be missing Kemba Walker this year. They do not have anyone who can efficiently get their own shot. They don’t have the players that suggest they can score through ball movement, and they don’t possess an elite system to make up for their poor roster talent. They will be very bad on offense. They do have a path to being okay on defense though. Terry Rozier is a solid defender, Marvin Williams and Cody Zeller are around league average front-court defenders, and maybe they can get something out of Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington on that side of the court. At the end of the day, I do not think the front office wants this team to win. They could very easily end up the worst team in the league, particularly if they lean completely into the young guys.
Prediction: 22 wins
Miami Heat: 43.5
Miami is coming off a season in which they did not make the playoffs and an offseason where their main move was swapping Josh Richardson for Jimmy Butler. They should have better health from the recently suspended for conduct detrimental to the team Dion Waiters and point guard Goran Dragic. Young guys Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo look to play significant roles this year as well. What does all this mean? It means they will be very solid. I think this team has a relatively high floor, but not too high of a ceiling. They will be putting their faith in Jimmy Buckets on the offensive side of the court and he will be solid, though not spectacular as a number one option. Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow, Goran Dragic, and Tyler Herro will be fine as supporting scorers –once again, not spectacular, but solid. There is a path to them being a pretty good defensive team. Coach Spoelstra is a good defensive coach and they have solid players like Jimmy, Winslow, and Bam. This team will probably see lots of minor injuries like they do every year, but they are better equipped to handle that this year. They will probably beat all the bad teams and be competitive with good teams.
Prediction: 46 wins
Orlando Magic: 41.5
The Magic are one of the more confounding teams. I can easily see them winning 50 games, but I can also see them winning 42. They return their whole starting lineup and, within that lineup, players like Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac could make a leap. Gordon’s ball skills seem to slightly develop every year, his shooting typically gets a bit better every year, and his defense also usually gets a little better every year. Maybe this is year he finally becomes an All-Star. Isaac apparently got taller and put on muscle weight, plus with him being so young and entering his third season, it’s hard not to assume he’ll come back better than years prior. They also made two additions to their second unit in Markelle Fultz and Al-Farquo Aminu. Fultz has looked very good defensively and working out of the pick-and-roll this preseason. He also helps fill one of their holes of not having enough guards who can breakdown the defense — he has been scoring out of the mid-range, in transition, and he’s been racking up assists. Having Aminu allows them to always have a very good wing defender on the court, and also just provides them with competent play. Michael Carter-Williams will also provide solid defense and overall bench play. There is also the chance that Mo Bamba takes a decent leap, given he’s put on some muscle weight and he will be more experienced. If not, Khem Birch is a very-solid third big. If Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross can provide the same, or at least close to the same level of play, plus the new additions to the bench and the potential improvement of the young guys, this team has a high-floor and a pretty decent ceiling.
Prediction: 48 wins
Washington Wizards: 26.5
Washington just locked up Bradley Beal for two more seasons, so he is ineligible to be traded this season. This team will not be good. With Beal being the only real scoring option on the team, opposing teams will key in on him. Who else are they going to rely on for offense, rookie Rui Hachimura? Rui has the potential to be a decent player, but his game lacks polish and he relies on his mid-ranger a lot; that’s a recipe for inefficiency. If Isaiah Thomas plays at all, I do not see any route to him scoring efficiently, coming off all of his injuries the past few years. Also, who is going to play defense on this team? Scanning the roster, you’ll be pressed to find anyone who is even a league average defender. I think this team will end up leaning hard into their young players by the trade deadline. However, their win total is still a low number. With Beal on the team it will be tough to see them completely bottoming out.
Prediction: 25 wins