2018 NBA Betting Preview: Pacific Division Win Totals

Zachary Cohen
Sports Illustrated
2018 NBA Betting Preview: Pacific Division Win Totals
2018 NBA Betting Preview: Pacific Division Win Totals

The Lakers present one of the most difficult win total bets the NBA has seen in years, while gambling on the Warriors is once again a matter of determining how (un)motivated they'll be in the regular season. So how will the Lakers, Warriors and the rest of the Pacific Division fare against preseason win totals?

Golden State Warriors

2017-18 Record: 58-24

2018 Win Total: 63.0

If you’re looking for somebody to tell you that this Warriors team isn’t capable of winning more than 63 games, you’re not going to find that here. Golden State could give its own single-season wins record a good run for its money if it wanted to. But that’s just not the case. At this point, coach Steve Kerr is going to do everything in his power to have this team ready to three-peat next June. That means that Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson will each get some maintenance days throughout the regular season—in addition to key reserve Andre Iguodala, who has missed 41 games over the past three seasons. And on top of planned rest days, you have to factor in that the Western Conference is loaded with talented teams and the Warriors are going to have trouble getting up for games that they’ll find to be meaningless. The addition of DeMarcus Cousins obviously can’t be ignored either, but he won’t be a major factor until the second half of the season. Achilles injuries are tough to navigate, especially for big men. Golden State is likely looking at something between 60 and 66 wins, but the under is the safer play.

Bet: Under 63.0

Los Angeles Lakers

2017-18 Record: 35-47

2018 Win Total: 48.5

It’s never fun betting against LeBron James, but there’s just too much value in the under here. James is clearly capable of putting up all-world numbers on offense, but he is no longer putting in the same effort defensively every night now that he’s getting ready to turn 34. He might be fine on that end in the postseason, but there are going to be nights where opponents light up this Lakers team. Of course, that doesn’t fall entirely on LeBron. This team had question marks defensively before he came, and they’ll likely have those same question marks once his four-year deal has run its course. It’s fair to look at this roster—with young studs like Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma—and feel that this supporting cast is a lot better than what James had in Cleveland. The team also has some solid vets in Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. But when you factor in journeyman Michael Beasley, too, there will simply be too many distractions both on and off the court with erratic personalities scattered throughout this locker room. There’s also the fact that this team could desperately use some outside shooting, and the Western Conference is a whole different animal than the East. This Lakers team will be fun to follow, but 49 wins is a tough ask.

Bet: Under 48.5

Los Angeles Clippers

2017-18 Record: 42-40

2018 Win Total: 35.5

On Jan. 29, 2018, the Los Angeles Clippers hit the reset button by dealing star Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons. It would have been understandable if coach Doc Rivers’s team had rolled over from there, but that didn’t happen. Instead, the Clippers rallied around one another and finished the season 17-16 with some impressive victories in the process. But Griffin wasn’t the last member of Lob City to skip town. The Clippers also lost DeAndre Jordan, who signed with the Dallas Mavericks. So the new question is whether or not this team has enough left to hover around the .500 mark next season. We think they do. In guards Patrick Beverley and Avery Bradley, Los Angeles just might have the toughest backcourt in all of basketball. They’re going to be a nightmare to play against for opposing guards. And on the inside, Montrezl Harrell brings that same tenacity.

But the Clippers have guys that can put the ball in the hoop, too. Tobias Harris will be the primary source of offense for this team. The 26-year-old averaged 19.3 PPG and 6.0 RPG in 32 games for the Clippers last season. If that stretched over the course of an 82-game season then it would have been a career year, and he’s only getting better. And then both Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams have proven time and time again that they are capable of heating up on any given night. And what can’t be ignored is that this team plays with a “why not us?” attitude. They treat every game as an opportunity to prove they belong in the Western Conference playoff discussion. For other teams, it’s hard to match that intensity over the course of a long regular season. The only thing preventing the Clips from winning 36 games would be a mid-season roster teardown.

Bet: Over 35.5

Phoenix Suns

2017-18 Record: 21-61

2018 Win Total: 28.0

The Suns have made some improvements to their roster, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to win eight more games than they did last season. Devin Booker is as incredibly gifted scorer, but he is one of the league's worst defenders at his position. And Phoenix just might have the worst point guard situation in basketball, so this backcourt isn't necessarily a plus. Rookies Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges should both be ready to step in and contribute immediately, but both players have their flows—especially Ayton, who will need to learn what it takes to defend at a high level in the pros. He has already looked better than expected on that end throughout the preseason, but we’ll need to see him do it against the league’s best big men on a nightly basis. In newly acquired veteran Trevor Ariza, the Suns did well to bring in a guy that can give them good minutes and also mentor last year’s first-round pick, Josh Jackson. But this is still looking like one of the worst teams in the league, albeit one of the more exciting ones. We’re taking the under this year, but are fully expecting to get on the over next year—especially with coach Igor Kokoskov ready to step in and be the long-term coach this team has been looking for.

Bet: Under 28.0

Sacramento Kings

2017-18 Record: 27-55

2018 Win Total: 26.0

Last season, the Kings won enough games to hit the over on their 2018 win total. And while it’s hard to question the wisdom of the experts in Vegas, it’s hard to imagine this team being worse than it was a year ago. De’Aaron Fox should be ready to take a huge step forward this season. The lightning-quick guard already flashed an improved jumper during the preseason, and he’s ready to challenge the NBA’s best at the point guard position. Buddy Hield joins him in the backcourt, and Hield has quietly become one of the league’s best shooters. That duo should be able to hold their weight against almost anyone. Sacramento has a number of young bigs that could step it up on any given night in rookies Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles, and also Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere. Bagley will be a candidate to win the Rookie of the Year award, but don’t sleep on Giles. Drafting and stashing the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2016 could go down as Vlade Divac’s best move as an executive. Giles looks healthy after “redshirting” last season and his feel for the game is remarkable. The same can be said for Bogdan Bogdanovic, who had a truly impressive rookie season last year. Bogdanovic is a do-it-all wing with a nice shooting stroke and excellent court vision. He’ll miss the early portion of the season, but he’ll help the team hit the 30-win mark upon his return.

Bet: Over 28.0

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