Dre checking in! As a refresher, in terms of predictions, I both tend to just accept they are an exercise in futility that become meaningless very quickly. That said, it's a lot of fun to speculate, and we're all sports fans here! So here's how I feel about Southwest Division.
Subtractions: Le'Bryan Nash, Demetrius Jackson, Chris Johnson, R.J. Hunter, Bobby Brown, Tarik Black, Briante Weber, Ryan Anderson, Isaiah Taylor, Chinanu Onuaku, Cameron Oliver, George de Paula, Tim Quarterman, Markel Brown, Joe Johnson, Brandan Wright, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Trevor Ariza, Isaiah Canaan, Troy Williams
Vegas Over/Under: 57.0
Honestly, this one is tough. I really like where this over/under is placed. The Rockets are pretty much a shoe-in to win the Division, and with CP3, Harden, and Capela, they've got an amazing core. That said, replacing Trevor Ariza with Melo is a downgrade. Of course, James Ennis was a great pickup. The real problem with predicting the Rockets is that they are top heavy and have some very varied ingredients beyond that. I say 57 wins is perfect barring a major trade or some weird roster shakeup, like Ennis getting the nod over Melo.
San Antonio Spurs
Vegas Over/Under: 42.5
When we recorded a podcast on the topic earlier, the over was so easy for this team. The Spurs were a 47 win team last year. Even losing Kyle Anderson, they looked in great shape to beat this. By turning Kawhi into DeRozan and Poeltl, they easily added some wins. And by shedding Parker and Ginobili, they had a solid addition by subtraction. Then the Spurs lost Dejounte Murray in the preseason. I still think the Spurs take the over, especially as I don't think they will ever try to tank. I'd say 45 wins is a nice estimate, but as you know, I always think such things seem silly in the future.
New Orleans Pelicans
Subtractions: Jameer Nelson, Walt Lemon Jr., Dante Cunningham, Charles Cooke, Jalen Jones, DeAndre Liggins, Martell Webster, Perry Jones, Omer Asik, Rashad Vaughn, Cliff Alexander, Tony Allen, Larry Drew II, Mike James, Emeka Okafor, Rajon Rondo, DeMarcus Cousins, Josh Smith, Jordan Crawford
Vegas Over/Under: 45.5
I mean, this feels like an easy over, right? This squad hit 48 wins last season. Yes, losing Cousins and Rondo hurt. That said, both of those players only played around 1700 minutes last season. Also, the Pelicans picked up Elfrid Payton, who has looked good everywhere but Phoenix, and has finally cut his hair. Tack on an aging Julius Randle, and this squad has an MVP calibur player and a solid squad around him. If the right player has a breakout year, they could be a contender. I won't hold my breath though.
Subtractions: Seth Curry, Maalik Wayns, Jeff Withey, Brandon Ashley, Doug McDermott, Aaron Harrison, Scotty Hopson, Johnathan Motley, Jameel Warney, Kyle Collinsworth, PJ Dozier, Josh McRoberts, Yogi Ferrell, Gian Clavell, Nerlens Noel, Antonius Cleveland
Vegas Over/Under: 36
My general take on predictions is that they are hard. Shocking, I know. The biggest problem is that there are many possibilities and choices for teams to make, and we never know which they'll take. The Mavericks did amazingly this offseason nabbing DeAndre Jordan and drafting Luka Doncic. Also, they were admittedly tanking last season, so 24 wins might be a bit deflated from how good this team actually was. They still have some major money and time sunk into Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews too. Basically, I think the Mavericks have the ingredients to be a fringe playoff squad, the question is who they play and if they want that. Regardless, they should be fun to watch.
Subtractions: Marquis Teague, Mario Chalmers, Vince Hunter, Omari Johnson, Jarell Martin, Myke Henry, Briante Weber, Brice Johnson, Durand Scott, Kobi Simmons, Rade Zagorac, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Deyonta Davis, Brandan Wright, Wade Baldwin IV, Ben McLemore, Tyreke Evans, James Ennis III
Vegas Over/Under: 33.5
I'm having a Pavlovian response here. I want to say the under, but we've been burned by this squad so many times in the past, I'm having a visceral reaction to it. The Memphis Grizzlies have been an older squad on the verge of decline for years, and yet they hung on ... until last season. We give them full credit for picking up Kyle Anderson, but they also let Tyreke Evans, who had a great season last year, out the door. They also still have a ton of cap invested in Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, who both demand major minutes but with declining production. I'll stick with the under, and as that also means they won't be a playoff squad, it should be a super safe bet if they decide to invest in military artillary after the All-Star break.