Golden State Warriors
Vegas Over/Under: 67.5
It's no shock that 93% of NBA GMs picked the Warriors to repeat as champions this season; they were one of the best teams in history last year, and brought back every core player from that team. We nitpicked over their offseason process at times, especially that they gave their $5.2 million exception to one of the worst players in the NBA (Nick Young). This led them to lowball Pachulia and McGee with minimum offers. It all worked out in the end, though. Curry, Durant, and all their big men are back.
The Warriors also continued to do well in the draft, despite not having any picks heading into draft night. They traded cash considerations to draft Pat McCaw, one of the best defensive players in the 2016 draft, in the second round. This year they picked up one of the best defensive players in the 2017 draft, Jordan Bell, by trading even more cash considerations. And amidst all this, their most underrated move was opening up the wallet for Andre Iguodala. It is unlikely he'll be worth $17,185,185 in the last year of the deal (when he's 35 years old), but they were smart to recognize how important he is for this season, when a lot of front offices wouldn't have.
It's hard to think of many scenarios where a team other than Golden State comes away with Larry O'Brien Trophy, by far the most likely one is a rash of season-ending injuries. They could easily have another 70 win season, but the 67.5 over is a huge number and with Kerr's Popovich-esque tendency to rest players we don't think the over is worth buying again this season.
Additions: Bogdan Bogdanovic, David Stockton, De'Aaron Fox, Frank Mason III, George Hill, Georgios Papagiannis, Harry Giles, Jack Cooley, Jakarr Sampson, Justin Jackson, Matt Jones, Reggie Hearn, Vince Carter, Zach Randolph
Vegas Over/Under: 27.5
We were excited when Vivek Ranadivé, a tech industry guy who embraces analytics, bought the team in 2013, but have faced disappointment over and over again as the King's poor front office moves have piled up. Their disastrous July 10, 2015 trade with the 76ers made no sense. The team's win loss record under the current ownership group speaks for itself.
Still, they do deserve some credit for the moves they've made since then. They rightly moved on from the overrated Cousins, and instead of completely tanking have added veteran players to their roster. Hill, Randolph, and Koufus are solid starters, while Cauley-Stein and Labissiere are both very young and have shown signs of decent play already. Hield looked bad in New Orleans, but did play well with Sacramento in limited minutes last season. Rookies Fox, Jackson, and Giles are also in the mix.
Even in the weakened Pacific Division, the Kings need a lot more talent before they can do enough damage to think about the playoffs. With the Lakers in a similar boat and the Suns potentially tanking, a 27.5 game over is reachable but scary; their 10 players with one year (or less) of experience are almost complete unknowns. They *could* get some production there, but it's never smart to rely players that young to suddenly emerge as stars.
Vegas Over/Under: 29.0
It's a bad time to be a Suns fan. They are rumored to be shopping their good veterans (Bledsoe, Chandler, and Dudley), and building around Devin Booker, an inefficient player we don't like very much. Instead of embracing veteran players like the Kings and trying to win some games, the Suns want to ship them all out. Somebody needs to tell their front office that tanking doesn't work.
Jackson, Bender, Ulis, and Williams are all very young and could amount to something, but even if the Suns strike gold with one or more of them they'll have a tough time digging their way out of out of last place this season. It's not very hard to win 29 games in the NBA, but if you think that the Suns are going to move Bledsoe at some point and do a full tank job the under looks really tempting, it's hard to figure out how they get there without him.
Los Angeles Lakers
Vegas Over/Under: 32.5
When Lonzo Ball and his father Lavar first emerged on the NBA media horizon, reactions were all over the place. Some thought that the overbearing Lavar was too big of a loose cannon, others saw Lonzo as one of the most exciting college prospects in years, and others just enjoyed the memes. We are strongly in the pro-Lonzo camp, we think he was the best player in the NCAA last season, and that the 76ers were foolish to pass on him.
Not only did the Lakers get the best college player in the draft, they also got great value in Hart, who had an excellent college career and went much lower than he should have. It wouldn't surprise me at all if this Laker draft class is judged as the strongest overall 2017 group once we have a few years of hindsight. Players that dominate college like these did have the best hope of doing well in the NBA. Ingram and Randle are still very young and could improve, but they haven't shown enough yet for us to have a ton of optimism about them. Larry Nance Jr, on the other hand, has looked great in his first two seasons and we're confused why he's not in the starting lineup. Lakers fans would include Kuzma in this group of exciting young players, but we were not onboard the hype train when it left the station; he was not that great in college.
The 32.5 win over is a tough call. On the one hand, this is another team full of young unknown players that they can't depend on to produce wins, but the Lakers are not tanking and in a division full of teams loaded with young unknown players. There's enough unknown factors to safely stay away from either bet.
Los Angeles Clippers
Additions: C.J. Williams, Danilo Gallinari, Jamil Wilson, Jawun Evans, Lou Williams, Marshall Plumlee, Milos Teodosic, Montrezl Harrell, Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker, Sindarius Thornwell, Tyrone Wallace, Willie Reed
Vegas Over/Under: 44.5
Owner Steve Ballmer deciding to pick GM/Coach Doc Rivers over Chris Paul was a complete debacle, but at least they were able to get some value instead of letting him walk for nothing. They also backed up the Brinks truck for Blake Griffin, signing him to a five-year, $173 million deal. We don't like this deal from the Clipper's perspective - Griffin has played very well at times, but poorly other times, and has had some injury history. He is not as proven as the popular perception would believe, and it's not smart to max out a player based on potential, especially since 28 year olds generally are who they are at that point in their career. This season is a massive step backwards for the franchise, but there is some hope with the team entering into extension talks with Deandre Jordan, which is a great consolation for Clipper fans.
They also added Harrell and Reed, who are excellent role players, but they unfortunately play a position of strength for the Clippers and are stuck behind Jordan and Griffin. Gallinari is young enough to bounce back and return to being a solid contributor, but it's not a sure thing, and Teodosić has some hype behind him but has never played a minute in the NBA. And though we should not underrestimate how big of a help it is to get rid of negative win producing players like Speights and Crawford, unfortunately, another big negative win producer, Austin Rivers, is firmly entrenched in the starting lineup. A final silver lining is that Pat Beverly, was able to produce a respectable 8.4 wins for Houston last year versus Paul's 14.2, and in a similar number of minutes. Lou Williams is another solid guard, and provides much needed depth. Sadly, I do not trust Doc Rivers to promote either of them ahead of his son.
If you view the Clippers through the lens of the point guard swap only, Vegas has this one all figured out; they think the Clippers will go from 51 wins last season to 44.5 this season, a very similar delta to Paul and Beverly's total wins produced. As bad as their two big decisions were, their smaller moves were solid, and they still have Deandre Jordan, one of the best bigs in the league. They could easily win 45 or more games, finish 2nd in the Pacific again, and battle for one of the final playoffs spots, but the wildcard of Paul's departure makes it a sketchy over bet. It's safer just to stay away from this one.