Vegas Over/Under: 32.5
This is an unimpressive list of additions, for sure. It's hard to argue that many of this team's roster moves made much difference, with one exception: Jeff Green was truly, horribly, no-good, awful last year, and that was for a whopping 1534 minutes. Even though Afflalo and Speights (the two additions likely to get heavier minutes) aren't superstars, it's important to remember that going from "terrible" to "below-average" is an upgrade that can create a few extra wins.
I'm also encouraged that Elfrid Payton had such a good junior year -- this is the kind of trajectory you want to see in a young player, and there's hope that he can have a breakout season (self-editing note: it's not looking great through 3 games, but let's not panic!). There's also hope that Herzonja can also progress from "awful" to just "bad," and Isaac looks promising.
I'm optimistic the team can improve on last year. Whether that's enough to make the playoffs, even in the Eastern conference....that might be a stretch.
Vegas Over/Under: 44.5
The Heat have mostly stood pat this offseason -- Olynyk is the only addition who's likely to get many minutes. And since he was a consistently below-average performer in Boston, I don't expect him to provide many wins.
On the one hand, it's pretty easy to see how the team can improve a few wins from last season's 41-41 record: First, get some improvement from Winslow, who had a promising rookie season before dealing with a shoulder injury last year. They also need to get a little luckier (they underperformed their expected win-loss according to point margin by a few wins).
On the other hand...not much has really changed here: it's still a team with a dominant big man, a solid point guard, and not much else, even though there is promising potential among its younger players. The injury to McGruder is a serious blow to that elusive luck factor, and where do you find the minutes for a promising young big man when your starting center's nickname has "Wilt" in it for very good reason?
I can see this going both ways, but I stayed away from this bet in Vegas because I think 44.5 is a pretty damn good estimate.
Vegas Over/Under: 43
Dwight Howard is certainly not the player he used to be. But I'm surprised at how consistently he gets underrated because of this. It's true he's no longer the MVP candidate he once was, and he gets on everyone's nerves by demanding more post-up touches even though a) post-ups aren't very efficient in the modern NBA and b) he's not very good at post-ups. It's also true that his poor free throw shooting seems to get somehow worse every year.
BUT. He's still a menace on the boards, a very good defender, and an efficient scorer (despite his own understanding of what makes him efficient, apparently). In short, all the things that make for a really good big man. When you add Howard to this roster and consider the fact that this team significantly underperformed its expected win-loss record last year (based on point margin), there's good reason to be optimistic about Charlotte's playoff chances.
Fun side note: Bacon has looked great in his first two games.
Vegas Over/Under: 49
Is Marcin Gortat the most underrated Center in the NBA? He had an off year in 2013 where he produced "merely" average numbers, and I thought at the time that must be the beginning of the end, but at 33 he's still going strong. I think my consistent expectation that age will start degrading Gortat's performance is why I've lost so much money betting against them. That, and Bradley Beal flipping the switch in a big way last year.
The Wizards are certainly a good team; John Wall is still a top 5 point guard, Gortat is still Gortat, Beal and Porter have both emerged as a solid wing tandem. And the team did play exceptionally well after a slow start last year, which might be enough to provide the 3-win improvement even though they have a largely unchanged roster.
I took the under on this bet when I was in Vegas, but not for very much. And looking at their first two games, it's probably a good thing that I was only modestly confident in that.
Subtractions: Dwight Howard, Paul Millsap, Thabo Sefolosha, Mike Dunleavy, Ryan Kelly, Jose Calderon, Kyle Korver, Kris Humphries, Mike Scott, Tim Hardaway Jr., Lamar Patterson, Gary Neal, Walter Tavares
Vegas Over/Under: 25.5
Whew. Of all the teams that made big roster overhauls, this one lost by far the most wins during the offseason. This is, on paper, now truly a terrible team. Their best player is now arguably Dewayne Dedmon, with perhaps the outside chance that Mike Muscala has a breakout season. And although those are both players that I like, it's probably not a good thing if either of them is your team's best player.
I hate to guess the under on teams that have low expectations, to begin with, but I took this one. In addition to the fact that the Roster lacks star quality and depth, there's also the very real possibility that management only wants to be in contention for lottery balls. And although some trades might accidentally benefit the team (*gives Shröder the side-eye*), It's more likely the team makes moves that make them worse, simply by jettisoning the few remaining veterans.
I think Atlanta has a real shot at 20 wins.