Injuries, locker room turmoil, an IG video, really anything can alter a season for a player and a team in the NBA. It’s impossible to know exactly how the campaign will play out. But glancing at rosters, analyzing coaching changes, and absorbing a general vibe around a team can help. That effort has informed this NBA predictions piece on regular season wins total over/unders, an early effort at who will over/underperform expectations in 2023-24.
Celtics Over 53½ Wins (-130)
It stands to reason that the Jayson Tatum-Jaylen Brown era will have one gigantic regular season. We think this could be it. The two superstars are in their prime and surrounded by solid pieces up and down the roster.
Remember, Boston was on a 66-win pace well into December last season while targeting a multitude of offensive records. There were some slumps later on but the crew still wound up with 57 victories. The fact that they failed to reach the NBA Finals for the second straight year was considered a disappointment.
Adding Kristaps Porzingis, who quietly had the best season of his career in 2022-23, will only help matters for Tatum and Brown. Moving Derrick White, who was a monster in the postseason, into a more prominent role in the wake of Marcus Smart’s departure, will make for a dynamic starting five that will be downright impossible to guard at times.
Sure, there will be some bumps along the way. Robert Williams III will get hurt. They’ll have several games where they shoot something like 8-for-40 from 3-point range. Smart’s grit will be missed in some crunch-time battles. But for the sportsbook to suggest this team will actually have fewer wins than they did last season seems off.
Warriors Under 48½ Wins (-120)
They could win 65 games. They also might have a few 65-year-olds on the roster. They’ll hit 25 3-pointers some nights with future Hall of Famers padding their records. They’ll also have many nights with those same Hall of Famers in street clothes.
It’s impossible to tell exactly how the injury list will look three months from now. Just know that a team reliant on a 38-year-old point guard who missed 23 games last season and two otherworldly shooters – one of whom turns 34 this season and has had two major leg injuries and another who turns 36 and missed 26 games last season – is not going to have its full lineup out there all that often. While some will cheer the departure of Jordan Poole, it does rob the roster of some of the scoring load. That could create a burden for the aging stars.
Throw in the fact that the Warriors play in the only division in the league that had all five teams finish over .500 last year. That means plenty of games in the division alone that could come against winning teams.
This was among the most consistently average teams in the NBA last season. They were at .500 18 different times, the last coming before a closing 8-2 stretch pushed them to a 44-38 mark. Sure, they have enough to add five wins to that total this year. They also have enough question marks to flirt with that .500 mark again.
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) August 30, 2023
Raptors Under 36½ Wins (-130)
There are some really good pieces on this roster. It also has the look of one of those that the great Zander Hollander would’ve ripped, player by player, after finishing 27-65. A few old guys playing out the string, some untested rookies, and a few slightly over-the-hill players who will be needed in a big way.
Pascal Siakam is now THE man with Fred VanVleet leaving town. He’s a perennial All-Star and has some nice support from OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes and Gary Trent Jr. Overall, this was one of the worst shooting teams in the league last year and will struggle – especially without VanVleet – to keep up with opponents from long range.
Give new head coach Darko Rajakovic a year to get his feet wet and turn this young roster into a contender again. It can happen, but we see a team playing in a division with Boston, Philadelphia and New York having enough slumps to keep it around the 30-win mark.
Fred VanVleet is a great shot creator.
FVV made 3.0 three pointers per game (8th in the league) while shooting 34.2% from the line last season. Most of them were created by himself. He’s a high volume shooter and legit threat from the 3. That’s the number one reason how he got… pic.twitter.com/ruhEvu4ACT
— Nashty (@spacecreator13) September 5, 2023
Heat Over 48½ Wins (-125)
This one has its risks (they all do). In recent years, the Heat have been a team that outplays its regular-season self with a better performance in the playoffs. Last season was the best example of this, as the No. 8 seed won the East, and there was a similar scenario in the 2020 Bubble.
In fact, they’ve had just one 50-win season since LeBron James left town. However, this feels like the kind of collection that could buck that trend and become a safer NBA betting option.
Consider first that the Heat won 44 games last season while experiencing a crushing load of injuries. They were, in fact, much closer to the playoff squad that ran through Milwaukee, New York, and Boston before falling to Denver in the Finals, an elite-level NBA squad if not for a steady stream of DNPs.
The losses of Max Strus and Gabe Vincent would’ve tested the depth, but some newcomers will fill those voids. Old friend Josh Richardson can hit some triples off the bench. The player development engine that boosted Haywood Highsmith last season will do the same with Nikola Jovic, Jamal Cain, and/or one of a handful of intriguing rookies. Thomas Bryant and Orlando Robinson, who dominated in some Summer League action, will give Bam Adebayo more support on the front line.
We haven’t even mentioned Jimmy Butler, who has to be supremely motivated for that first NBA title. We don’t know if that’ll happen, but we do see a 50-win campaign in Miami.
CHRISTIAN WOOD ELECTRICITY ‼️
— Lakers signing Christian Wood is a game changer!
— Luka Doncic not being able to figure out how to play with Wood, won’t be an issue for Lebron James!
— Lakers should be seen as favorites in the west with Wood and AD
— BallTalkSource (@BallTalkSource) September 6, 2023
Suns Over 51½ Wins (-115)
This could turn into a dumpster fire. They could be a laughingstock, a super team comprised of expensive talent that turns to dust in the desert. Or, under a first-year coach who’s had some history of starting off on the right foot, this becomes a unit hell-bent on destruction. Either way, they’ll dominate the NBA news pages much of the time.
This is Devin Booker’s team, but on some nights, it will be Kevin Durant’s team, and on other nights, it will be Bradley Beal’s team. DeAndre Ayton will have his big games. After that, there’s a big dropoff in talent, so keeping the core healthy will be very important.
Frank Vogel takes over for Monty Williams after the latter was let go following a 45-win campaign. Vogel turned Indiana around the moment he took over in 2010-11 and later won an NBA title in his first season as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. He’s not a bad guy to back with a bet online in that first go-round with a roster.
Expect a slow start while the roster gels, then a hot stretch that makes this unit a contender in the West and a solid choice for your NBA picks.