Get Even More Visitors To Your Blog, Upgrade To A Business Listing >>

NBA Win Totals, Futures Best Bets: Previews for All 30 Teams

It’s finally time to tip off the new 2023-2024 NBA season!

To get you ready, here are my predictions on NBA win totals and futures best bets with previews for all 30 teams. Specifically, this article features my favorite futures bet for every team in the NBA this season. Some will be win totals. Others might be season-long player props, division winners, in-season tournament props, or anything in between. Whatever the bet is, it’s the futures bet I would make on each team if I had to pick just one.

Below you’ll find a mini preview of all 30 NBA teams with their projected ranking on offense and defense plus a projected win-loss record. You’ll also find a decision on every team’s win total with my usual Bet, Lean, or Pass setup, along with my favorite best futures bet for each team.

There are over 75 bets in all, so skim or skip ahead to the teams you’re interested and get those last chances futures bets in before the new season tips off Tuesday night!

NBA Win Totals, Futures Best Bets & Previews for All 30 Teams


Atlanta Hawks

Offense: 6 | Defense: 23 | Projection: 42-40

Season Outlook

The entire complexion of Atlanta’s season changed last spring after the All-Star break with the arrival of two men: Quin Snyder and Saddiq Bey. Bey was a huge addition to a rejuvenated bench that was terrific down the stretch, and Snyder coached a more egalitarian style that helped unlock the team.

Under Snyder, both Trae Young and Dejounte played and did slightly less in a way that helped the team, with Jalen Johnson stepping up as a playmaker, Onyeka Okongwu exploding as a menace on the offensive glass, and Bogdan Bogdanovic seeing a leap in efficiency.

Atlanta’s Offense Rating jumped from 114 to 119 under Snyder, but the defense took a similar “leap” from 114 to 118. That continues to be the story of this team, with an offense that’s now ranked top eight in the NBA three straight years but a defense that’s finished bottom 10 over the same stretch.

Biggest Questions

  • What can Snyder do to find some defensive answers from this team? Will Okongwu move into a starting role at some point? Coaching can unlock defense, and the offense is already there, so Snyder holds the keys to this team’s ceiling.
  • More directly: can Atlanta graduate from cute first-round fodder to a real threat, or are they stuck in fun-offense-enjoy-your-couch-in-May mode with this core?

Win Total: Under 42.5 (Pass)

This is my winner pick in a terrible Southeast Division (+220, FanDuel), but it’s more because of a lack of competition than a belief in the Hawks. This team has gone way under each year since its run to the Eastern Conference Finals, but maybe Snyder can unlock a new level.

Futures Best Bet: Trae Young Assists Per Game Leader (+480, FanDuel)

I’m stealing this from Joe Dellera because the number is just way too long. Tyrese Haliburton is the correct favorite and will likely play very fast, but he finished last season at 10.4 APG versus 10.4 for Young, and we don’t quite know how the Hawks will play either. This feels like a two-man race with the James Harden mess, and I’d pick Haliburton outright but +480 (17% implied) is far too low for this good a passer.

Click here to return to the table of contents.

Boston Celtics

Offense: 5 | Defense: 3 | Projection: 58-24

Season Outlook

Boston is all-in after trading for Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday. Anything short of the Conference Finals would be a disaster, and anything less than a title would be a disappointment.

This team has traded in depth for stardom, and it’s already unlocking some new things offensively with the way Boston looks totally different in preseason with a willing shooter at the five that defenses have to respect. That changes the geometry of the entire offense and adds a new ceiling, one that will be even more important on the biggest stages.

The defense will be a transition, since the team lost two of its best switch defenders in Marcus Smart and Grant Williams. Holiday is an even better defender than Smart, but Boston may have to switch less and play more drop with Porzingis, and the loss of Robert Williams is another X-factor gone on that end.

This team might be more consistently great on offense now, not defense. The offense has already finished top-10 in five straight seasons and took a leap last year with its 3s. Boston might be the only team in basketball built to threaten 60 wins. This team has its eyes on a bigger prize.

Biggest Questions

  • Can Boston’s thin front court hold up and keep the team elite defensively? Boston has finished top seven in Defensive Rating in five of the past six seasons, but Porzingis and Al Horford need to stay healthy.
  • How will Boston handle its new lack of depth? The Celtics effectively swapped out Smart, Malcolm Brogdon, and both Williams for Holiday and Porzingis, opening up roughly a Jayson Tatum’s worth of minutes in the process. Where do those minutes go, and how much of a drop off does it represent?

Win Total: Over 54.5 (Lean)

I’m quite high on the Celtics, but 54.5 is a really high number and leaves very little margin for error. My numbers project Boston between 54 and 60 wins, which should make this a play, but there are better ways to bet high-end Celtics outcomes.

Futures Best Bet: Jayson Tatum MVP (+900, BetRivers)

Tatum is the one MVP bet you need to add to your portfolio heading into the new season. At its most traditional, MVP goes to the best player on the best team. Tatum is the best candidate for that profile in recent years as the clear star on a team that could well finish with five or 10 wins more than the next closest team if things go well. He’s a high scorer in his prime on a juggernaut, and I expect him to be a top-three MVP candidate all season long. Tatum checks every MVP box for me.

I’m also high on Jrue Holiday awards futures. He fits the profile of recent Boston award winners, DPOY Marcus Smart and 6MOY Malcolm Brogdon. I wrote about Holiday’s potential value for Sixth Man of the Year (now +2000, Bet365), and spoke on Buckets about Holiday’s long shot value as the best non-big defender in basketball for Defensive Player of the Year (+3300, PointsBet).

Click here to return to the table of contents.

Brooklyn Nets

Offense: 24 | Defense: 8 | Projection: 38-44

Season Outlook

It’s a total reload for the Nets, who lose four of their top six players in minutes from last season but add in a heap of additional minutes from Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Spencer Dinwiddie, Dennis Smith Jr., and maybe even Ben Simmons.

That huge turnover makes Brooklyn tough to predict, but the results from Feb. 11 forward post trades were not great. The Nets posted a -1.5 Net Rating and dropped from a 52- to 32-win pace, with their eFG% dropping from first to 25th on offense and first to 10th in defense. Turns out basketball is harder without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Biggest Questions

  • How good can this defense be? The team could start three elite All-Defense-caliber players in Bridges, Simmons, and Nic Claxton, and the Nets have defended well under Jacque Vaughn.
  • Will the offense be capped by a lack of high-end talent and leave Brooklyn’s ceiling capped? That eFG% dropoff was dramatic, and system and coaching can only go so far.

Win Total: Over 37.5 (Pass)

This line feels about right. Brooklyn owes its first-round pick to Houston unprotected, so there’s no reason to think this team does anything but push try hard and push for a play-in. That and the high defensive floor lean over, but it’s close enough to stay away.

Futures Best Bet: Ben Simmons All-Defensive First Team +2500 (BetRivers)

Joke all you want about whether Ben Simmons will actually stay on the court, but there’s no question he’s one of the league’s best defenders when he’s out there.

Simmons has a career 106 Defensive Rating and 2.1 Defensive Box Plus/Minus, both elite numbers, and he ranked 95th percentile in Defensive EPM last season. He started only 33 games the last two seasons combined but made All-Defensive First Team two years in a row before that, leading the league in steals in 2020. You can bet him to do that at +3300 (BetMGM) too if you like. If he plays enough, these numbers are very badly mispriced.

Click here to return to the table of contents.

Charlotte Hornets

Offense: 19 | Defense: 21 | Projection: 36-46

Season Outlook

The Hornets were a disaster last season, but most teams would be pretty disastrous if they effectively lost their top two players for the season. LaMelo Ball quietly took major strides developmentally even in a lost season, adding a very good 3-pointer on volume, and now Miles Bridges returns after finishing top three in Most Improved Player voting his last time on the court.

Charlotte is replacing a ton of mostly negative minutes from players in outsize roles, which should mean better seasons from rotation guys like Terry Rozier and P.J. Washington returning to a better-suited roles. The offense cratered last season, dropping to dead last in the NBA, but ranked ninth the previous year and now it adds rookie Brandon Miller and more vertical spacing and defense from Mark Williams.

The team two years ago won 43 games. Why can’t this roster flirt with .500 too?

Biggest Questions

  • What will the Hornets get from Miles Bridges? It’s a gross question to consider, but from a basketball-only standpoint, it’s Bridges is absolute vital to the Hornets’ season.
  • Could Charlotte be this year’s Kings? They’re an overlooked team that should run and score a lot with LaMelo Ball playing the part of De’Aaron Fox, plus a defense-first coach in Steve Clifford as Mike Brown. What is the Hornets ceiling if they stay healthy and everything clicks in a winnable division?

Win Total: Over 30.5 (Bet)

One of my favorite overs on the board as long as it looks like Bridges will play. The Hornets had gone over four straight seasons until all of last year’s injuries. This line has slowly ticked up but hasn’t gone nearly far enough. I expect the Hornets to be close enough to contend for the play-in.

Futures Best Bet: Hornets to win the Southeast Division (+3500, DraftKings)

This is my favorite division long shot, in large part because I’m not in love with Miami or Atlanta. I have Charlotte projected at fourth in the division but only six games back from the top. That’s close enough to give them a shot. I give the Hornets just over 8% at the division, versus 2.8% implied by this +3500.

Click here to return to the table of contents.

Chicago Bulls

Offense: 23 | Defense: 11 | Projection: 40-42

Season Outlook

The Bulls are largely running it back with a relatively proven roster that’s played a year and a half of .500 ball without Lonzo Ball after that exciting start two seasons ago. DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic have become relatively stable and steady veteran producers, and Billy Donovan has coaxed terrific defense out of this group.

This year’s squad adds Torrey Craig and Jevon Carter, two tenacious defenders, which should give Donovan 48 minutes of outstanding point-of-attack defense with Alex Caruso in tow. An offense built around DeRozan and Vucevic is capped, typically around league average or just below.

Chicago should be back where it’s used to living, right around the middle, in the thick of the play-in race.

Biggest Questions

  • Will the Bulls really shoot more 3s this season? They ranked dead last in attempts and makes but have sworn to bomb more from behind the arc and have looked the part in the preseason.
  • Is there a ceiling to this team? If the 3s tick up, the defense stays top 10, and the depth is improved, could Chicago be this year’s version of the Knicks and finish safely among the East top six?

Win Total: Over 37.5 (Lean)

Chicago’s win total was posted at 41.5 and 42.5 the last two seasons. This team is mostly running it back but giving us a 4-to-5-win discount for no particular reason, leaving some value on the over.

Futures Best Bet: Bulls to participate in the play-in (+125, DraftKings)

Chicago has one of my narrowest win ranges on the board at 38-to-42 wins. Those numbers are right in the middle of the play-in race.

The team has too many veterans and too much pride to slide out of the play-in range but not enough kick to push above it. If you were going to design an NBA team built to finish in the play-in, you’d built the Chicago. For better or for worse, the Bulls have become NBA Goldilocks, stuck right smack in the middle.

Click here to return to the table of contents.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Offense: 13 | Defense: 2 | Projection: 53-29

Season Outlook

The Cavs young core returns but replaces its secondary pieces with upgrades. Gone are Ricky Rubio, Cedi Osman, and Lamar Stevens, replaced with the shooting of Max Strus and Georges Niang. Those two will add badly needed spacing to the offense at the expense of defense, but defense is still the core of this team.

Cleveland had the league’s No. 1 Defensive Rating last season built around Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, and those two, Donovan Mitchell, and Darius Garland are still young enough to be on the upswing.

The Cavs have been near the top of the conference in Net Rating and Expected Wins much of each of the last two seasons before hitting some hiccups late. They have No. 1 seed upside and a terrific regular season winning formula with potential No. 1 seed upside.

Biggest Questions

  • How much can Mobley and Allen clean up defensively to make up for Cleveland potentially starting three subpar perimeter defenders? What new dimensions can the offense add with its additional spacing, and will it be enough to offset the potential drop defensively?
  • Will Donovan Mitchell be here long term? That question could loom over the entire season.
  • Is J.B. Bickerstaff the right coach to take this team to the next level? Might be a question for the postseason.

Win Total: Over 50.5 (Bet)

This is my favorite over in the East. Defense travels, and elite defense with competent offense is a tried and true winning formula in the NBA. Cleveland went under by half a win in both of Bickerstaff’s first two years but has gone over by 22 combined the last two seasons. I remain in on the Cavaliers.

Futures Best Bet: Cavs to win Central Division (+275, BetMGM)

The Cavs are my outright pick to win the Central Division. I have them a couple games ahead of the Bucks and expect them to have a better night-to-night formula and treat the regular season more seriously than Milwaukee in a two-team race between great teams. I’ve got that Cavs around a coin flip to win the Central, so this is a multiple-unit division bet for me, helped further by a soft early schedule for Cleveland.

Check out our exclusive new user offers redeemable with Action’s BetMGM Bonus Code.

Click here to return to the table of contents.

Detroit Pistons

Offense: 27 | Defense: 30 | Projection: 24-58

Season Outlook

Monty Williams takes over in Detroit, and this could be a transitional year as the Pistons figure out which young pieces are worth keeping around long-term and who pops for Williams. Detroit’s immediate upside depends almost entirely on youth development, and that’s a tough sell the way guys like Jaden Ivey, Killian Hayes, James Wiseman, and Marcus Bagley have failed to develop.

Cade Cunningham is coming off a lost sophomore season and needs to prove he’s a franchise worth building around. This offense has finished bottom five three straight seasons and may do so again with so many young handlers, and there’s not much to get excited about defensively with so many young bigs.

Biggest Questions

  • Will veterans like Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Harris, and Alec Burks survive the season in Detroit? Bogdanovic in particular could be a very attractive trade piece at the deadline if the Pistons are out of the mix, and these are the best guys on Detroit’s offense until proven otherwise.
  • How much immediate development can Monty Williams coax out of youngsters like Ivey, Jalen Duren, Isaiah Stewart, and rookie Ausar Thompson?

Win Total: Under 28.5 (Bet)

Unfortunately, some teams have to lose a bunch of games, and if the Pistons finish bottom five on offense yet again without a major improvement defensively, they’ll be among the league’s worst teams.

Detroit has gone under four straight years. The last six seasons have seen about six teams per year finish below a 28-win pace. Will Detroit be a bottom six team this season? I say yes.

Futures Best Bet: Cade Cunningham over 21.7 PPG (DraftKings)

Cunningham drew rave reviews with the USA Select Team and could be ready to break out. He already appeared to be breaking out as a rookie, putting up 22.1 PPG in 19 healthy games after the All Star Break, way up from 15.7 PPG before the break.

Cunningham was never really healthy last season but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him effectively pick up where he left off that rookie season. He should lead the team in scoring, and 24+ PPG (+320, FanDuel) looks like an excellent escalator here.

Click here to return to the table of contents.

Indiana Pacers

Offense: 12 | Defense: 19 | Projection: 42-40

Season Outlook

The Pacers went 28-28 when Tyrese Haliburton played last season and 7-19 without him. Now Indiana adds Bruce Brown, Obi Toppin, and rookie Jarace Walker without really losing anything of note, hopefully along with another 15 or 20 games of Haliburton, and the Pacers could really have something brewing.

Indiana will likely play very fast, and this offense could be something to behold. Haliburton has quickly become a bona fide superstar the way he runs this offense, and the new pieces add defense, depth, and balance. With Rick Carlisle at the helm as one of the league’s best game-to-game managers, this team is being priced as a play-in squad but looks more like a team that can finish among the six protected seeds.

Biggest Questions

  • How far can the defense improve? It finished bottom five the last two years, but Brown and Walker will be a big help, plus improvement from Isaiah Jackson. Myles Turner has to stay healthy, but for once, it looks like more than just him. The defense is the entire question. A bad defense lands Indiana in the play-in. Near average gets them above, and good makes them this year’s sleeper.
  • How many wins is Rick Carlisle worth? Carlisle is a warlock and taking players like Brown, Walker, and Toppin with key strengths and major flaws, putting them in specific roles, and seeing them thrive. What can Carlisle unlock from Indiana’s island of misfit toys?

Win Total: Over 38.5 (Bet)

The Pacers over was my favorite win total on the board when these numbers posted in the summer, and I immediately hammered the over 35.5 for three units. The number has moved significantly now but there’s still definite value, since I have Indiana winning between 39 and 45 games.

Futures Best Bet: Under 9.5 seed (-130, DraftKings)

Indiana is being priced on the fringes of the play-in race, but I think books have them on the wrong fringe. I have the Pacers at the top of a group of six teams from spots 6-through-11. This is a very clear postseason team barring major injuries to Haliburton and Turner, and one that I think might well finish as the 5- or 6-seed if things go smoothly. This is a bad number.

If you want to buy a high-end Pacers outcome, I’ve got two recommendations. Rick Carlisle (+2500, BetMGM) is one of three picks I recommended on our Coach of the Year Buckets episode, and my favorite In Season Tournament long shot is Haliburton at +7000 (DraftKings) to win MVP since Indiana plays in a favorable group and Haliburton would absolutely be the reason the Pacers make a run if they do.

Click here to return to the table of contents.

Miami Heat

Offense: 22 | Defense: 6 | Projection: 41-41

Season Outlook

Safe to say this isn’t exactly the team Heat fans envisioned heading into the new season. Miami built its entire offseason around a Damian Lillard trade that never materialized. The Heat let Max Strus and Gabe Vincent walk for nothing and didn’t really replace them.

Miami finished with a negative net rating in the regular season and came a few minutes from being eliminated in the play-in before riding a string of hot shooting, injury luck, and Heat Culture all the way to the Finals.

Now an older roster begins the season worn down after a grueling summer with little depth or offense to speak of after finishing 25th in ORTG last year. Miami has finished between 5th and 10th defensively five straight seasons, as always, built around defense and culture. Will that be enough?

Biggest Questions

  • Miami’s offense dropped from 10th two years ago to 25th last season. How much of that was unlucky shooting that returned in the postseason, or has the league passed this offense by?
  • What developmental successes will Heat Culture produce next? Past success story Josh Richardson was the one real addition, but Miami will need real minutes from guys like Orlando Robinson, Jamal Cain, and Haywood Highsmith to be successful this season.

Win Total: Under 45.5 (Lean)

For all their recent postseason success, the Heat have won 45 games only once the past seven seasons. This number has slowly dropped since opening, robbing much of the value, but it’s still a steep ask for a team that made the play-in last season and lost two starters from the Finals.

Futures Best Bet: Heat to participate in the play-in (+250, Bet365)

Miami is being priced as the team it was for six hot playoff weeks, not six months of regular season data, and that’s a mistake. I have five East teams in a tier at the top with six wins of separation before a tier from 6-to-11 seeds fighting for the back half of the postseason picture.

The Heat are squarely in the middle of that next tier. It would be pretty surprising to see them get above the 5-seed without finding a major trade, but it would be equally shocking to see them miss the postseason altogether. Four teams make the play-in so this gives bettors four outs. The Heat are my second most likely East play-in team. This line is giving them far too much credit.

Click here to return to the table of contents.

Milwaukee Bucks

Offense: 4 | Defense: 14 | Projection: 51-31

Season Outlook

Hello, Damian Lillard. A team that was already all-in pushed its chips in even further with Milwaukee’s trade for Dame, and this is a fundamentally different trade with Lillard in place of Jrue Holiday.

The offense should be significantly better. Lillard is an absolute superstar, arguably coming off his best season ever. He led Portland to a top-3 ORTG three straight seasons before the last two, and he’s never had this much, let alone a former MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo, plus a hopefully healthier Khris Middleton. Dame’s presence improves this offense from fringe top 10 to possible No. 1.

How much does it downgrade Milwaukee defensively, though? Lillard’s DRTG has been at 117 or higher four straight seasons, an outright negative replacing the league’s best perimeter defender. The Bucks finished 10th and 14th in DRTG before leaping to 4th last season, so they could return to just above average with a new-look defense missing Holiday, Jevon Carter, and other good veteran defenders.

Milwaukee has traded in its defensive identity for an offense-first squad. That could pay off in the postseason but it might mean for a rocky adjustment and downswing in the regular season.

Biggest Questions

  • How healthy is Antetokounmpo, and what version of Giannis will Milwaukee get with the addition of Lillard? Antetokounmpo isn’t fully healthy entering the new season, and he’s averaged just 63 games the past four seasons. Will he rest more with Dame around to share the load? Will a lower-usage role help Antetokounmpo thrive and bring back his DPOY upside all year?
  • Will Milwaukee’s depth hold up? The Bucks lost five of their top nine in minutes and don’t have a starting SG. Malik Beasley, Cam Payne, Jae Crowder, and MarJon Beauchamp will play big roles.
  • What will the Bucks get from new coach Adrian Griffin? He replaces an elite regular season coach in Mike Budenholzer and already had some early trouble with the dismissal of assistant Terry Stotts.

Win Total: Under 54.5 (Lean)

This was a bet for me at under 56.5 just after the Lillard trade, but it’s just a lean now that others have bet it down too. It’s still a really high number, and our default should always be under with such a high line. The lack of depth and question marks on how everything fits under the new coaches are enough reason to expect some lumps and take the under.

Futures Best Bet: Damian Lillard to make All-NBA First Team (+600, DraftKings)

Lillard was 3rd in the NBA in EPM last season behind only Jokic and Embiid, and he was top 10 in BPM. If the Bucks have a monster season, voters might not hesitate to put two Bucks on the First Team. Even if they don’t, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Dame as Milwaukee’s lone representative ahead of Giannis if he stays healthier and carries an offense-first team as the best offensive player on the team.

Of course, the real pick you’re looking for here is a Bucks title bet. It’s a great portfolio addition, but there will likely be cheaper moments in the calendar to add Milwaukee later.

Click here to return to the table of contents.

New York Knicks

Offense: 10 | Defense: 12 | Projection: 48-34

Season Outlook

New York is an elite offensive rebounding team and almost never turns the ball over thanks to Jalen Brunson, so the Knicks simply out-math most opponents by getting more opportunities. This is still not a particularly efficient offense, and we saw the lack of EFG bite New York in the playoffs, but the formula works like a charm over a long regular season.

The rest of the formula is one of the league’s best benches, a stout defense, and night-in-night-out effort, all staples of the team under Tom Thibodeau. New York has played as a top 10 net rating team in two of the past three seasons with an expected win total around 47.

Weirdly enough, the Knicks have become a relatively reliable outcome team. They kinda are what they are.

Biggest Questions

  • What can Villanova do for you? This year’s big Knicks addition is Donte DiVincenzo, adding to Brunson and last year’s brilliant in-season acquisition, Josh Hart. Once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat.
  • Will the Knicks go star hunting with a blockbuster trade? New York is the top rumored destination for Joel Embiid or Donovan Mitchell, should either become available midseason.

Win Total: Over 45.5 (Pass)

New York’s regular season should put them solidly over this number, but the final few wins might not matter much if the Knicks are safely above the play-in. There’s a better way to bet this.

Futures Best Bet: Under 6.5 seed (-120, DraftKings)

Skip the win total and bet the seed instead since it’s an actual target, with every team wanting to lock in a protected top-6 seed. New York’s formula and high floor put them solidly among the top five in the East. Unless things totally fall apart, this team’s depth and balanced profile under Thibs should be enough.

Click here to return to the table of contents.

Orlando Magic

Offense: 21 | Defense: 13 | Projection: 38-44

Season Outlook

After a disastrous 5-20 start last season, the Magic righted the ship and finished 29-28 down the stretch. They cranked up the intensity on defense and saw an increase in turnovers forced, and the offense found more ways to get to the line and got a big boost in offensive rebounding. Jamaal Mohsley has quietly done a great job with this young roster, getting them to league average defensively both seasons at the helm.

Just about every key player on this team is young and should continue to develop and improve. Franz Wagner is coming off an outstanding FIBA World Cup, and Paolo Banchero is the reigning Rookie of the Year. Those two are the stars, but Orlando has finished bottom five in ORTG three straight seasons and will need a serious improvement on that end to make a playoff push.

Biggest Questions

  • What can Orlando get from its young guards? There’s plenty of pedigree and talent with Markelle Fultz, Jalen Suggs, Cole Anthony, and rookie Anthony Black all top-15 draft picks, but it hasn’t come to fruition. It’s tough for an offense to play well with poor, inconsistent play from young guards.
  • Can the Magic solve that problem somewhat by running the offense through Paolo and Franz as the lead handlers? Is that duo ready to take the next step?

Win Total: Over 36.5 (Pass)

The Magic went under their posted win total three straight times before going over by 7.5 wins last year. This number places the Magic squarely on the fringe of the play-in race, right where I expect them.

Futures Best Bet: Paolo Banchero 23 PPG & Magic 40+ wins (+600, DraftKings)

Orlando is one of my least favorite teams to bet on in the futures market since I think they’re priced about right. If you like the Magic, this is a nice, believable higher-end outcome. Banchero finished at 20.0 PPG as a rookie and slipped a bit late as he hit the rookie wall. A better season from Paolo likely means a couple more Orlando wins, so these are correlated outcomes.

Click here to return to the table of contents.

Philadelphia 76ers

Offense: 11 | Defense: 4 | Projection: 50-32

Season Outlook

How do you preview a Philadelphia season when we still have no idea whether or not James Harden will have any part in it? Harden remains a no show this preseason, and I’m not sure he ever plays for this team again. The numbers in Philly’s subhead reflect a team with Harden, but each passing day makes that more and more of a fairytale.

On paper, the 76ers are a solid top-3 seed in the East, running back a roster and replacing Doc Rivers with a better and more strategic coach in Nick Nurse. Nurse’s teams finished in the top half of the league defensively all five seasons in Toronto, though his offense ranked just outside the top 10 each of the past four years. Joel Embiid is the reigning MVP, I guess.

Biggest Questions

  • What happens with James Harden, and when does it happen? Could the wrong Harden outcome trigger a second trade request from Embiid?
  • What is Philadelphia’s ceiling if Harden and Embiid plays and everything goes right? And perhaps more importantly, what’s Philly’s floor if things go sideways and the bottom falls out?

Win Total: Under 48.5 (Pass)

Impossible to bet without knowing what will come of Harden. Philadelphia’s core is good enough that it wouldn’t be surprising to find some value on the over if the win total drops out after a Harden trade.

Futures Best Bets: Philadelphia to miss the playoffs (+650, PointsBet) | Tyrese Maxey Most Improved Player (+1400, BetRivers)

If you want to bet Philadelphia futures, I like playing them two ways, with one high-end and one low-end outcome on the extremes rather than the median.

If the bottom falls out, it could fall out hard. If the bad Harden juju spills over into a subpar Embiid season or a second trade request, this could turn into a situation like the Nets last year. Brooklyn was one game away from falling into the play-in and probably would’ve gotten eliminated there, and the Sixers could be in for a similar fate if things go poorly.

My favorite upside play in anticipation of a Harden trade is a bet on Tyrese Maxey to win Most Improved Player. He checks every box as a 23-year-old fourth-year player set to take an All Star leap on a winning team, and he’s shown he’s ready to take on a higher-usage role that would lead to a serious scoring jump if Harden goes. Maxey would be my MIP favorite if Harden is not replaced with a high-usage player, so I’m playing now at +1400 in anticipation of a move. He’s already as low as a +700 co-favorite at some books.

Click here to return to the table of contents.

Toronto Raptors

Offense: 25 | Defense: 7 | Projection: 35-47

Season Outlook

The Raptors are a hard team to get a grasp on since they’re so unlike most other teams, with an odd collection of talent and unique style of play.

Still, the presumed downgrade from Fred VanVleet and Nick Nurse to Dennis Schroder and new, unknown head coach Darko Rajakovic could be dramatic. It’s clear things had gone sideways under Nurse in Toronto, so it was probably time for a fresh start, but that’s still a championship-winning coach and its second best offensive player and only volume shooter out the door.

Toronto finished between 10th and 16th on both offense and defense three consecutive years. Will Schroder fit the offense, and can a full season of Jakob Poeltl lift the defense to new heights?

Biggest Questions

  • Was Nurse propping up a misfit roster, or was he holding the Raptors back? Toronto is betting on the latter in hopes that Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes, and others break out, but I’m not convinced.
  • Could there be something of a dead cat bounce post-Nurse? The vibes out of Toronto with Nurse were very bad, so a fresh start could be just what the doctor ordered.

Win Total: Under 36.5 (Pass)

This number has dropped since I bet the under at open. I lean under, but at this point, I’d rather bet an alternate under or an extreme low-end outcome.

Futures Best Bet: Raptors fewest wins (+2000, DraftKings)

I just don’t believe in this roster, which feels more like a collection of assets than a team. If things start poorly, don’t be surprised if Masai Ujiri decides to blow it up and sell for parts.

Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Gary Trent Jr. are in the final year of their contracts, and Toronto can’t risk losing everyone for nothing. The Raptors owe a top-6 protected pick to San Antonio, so Toronto may need to lean into the tank and try to keep its pick.

Click here to return to the table of contents.

Washington Wizards

Offense: 30 | Defense: 28 | Projection: 20-52

Season Outlook

The Wizards might be the worst team in the NBA.

Washington loses both its stars in Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis, by far the two best players on an offense that will now feature Kyle Kuzma and Jordan Poole at potentially disastrous levels. Even the veterans on this team capable of contributing to a positive offense will find themselves in outsize roles that will rob the team of any efficiency or offensive upside.

The defense could go just as poorly, considering the collection of players on the roster. Rookie Bilal Coulibaly looks like a menace but may have a hard time getting on the court early, and there just aren’t many other defenders here to help Wes Unseld Jr. This could get ugly.

Biggest Questions

  • Washington made a clear choice this offseason, finally deciding to sell off and lean in to the tank. Even if a couple veterans outperform expectations, will Washington just trade them at the deadline?
  • Could veteran PGs Tyus Jones and Delon Wright give the Wizards a higher than expeced floor?

Win Total: Under 24.5 (Bet)

This is the lowest win total on the board, but it’s not low enough. An average of 3.7 teams have finished below a 25-win pace over the past six seasons. Are the Wizards a bottom-four team this year? That’s an easy yes for a team I have bottom-three on both offense and defense, and one that will want to finish in that bottom four to secure the top lottery odds.

Futures Best Bet: Jordan Poole Most Improved Player (+2400, FanDuel)

Poole was one of three MIP bets I made on our Buckets awards previews. He averages 24.6 PPG as a starter and could have the ultimate green light for an offense missing 46.4 PPG from Porzingis and Beal. Could Poole get to 27, even 30 PPG? Will he get more of a playmaking role too? There’s potential for a Beal Lite stat line and those counting numbers alone would make Poole an MIP candidate, efficient or not.

Click here to return to the table of contents.


Dallas Mavericks

Offense: 2 | Defense: 18 | Projection: 49-33

Season Outlook

The Mavericks remade their roster a second straight year, and this time it makes sense. Seth Curry is back to add shooting, and the team added a rim-running center in Derek Lively and a 3-and-D wing in Olivier-Maxence Prosper in the draft. Dallas also added Grant Williams, the perfect glue guy defender this team needed, and he and a healthy Maxi Kleber at the four should make a huge difference defensively.

Of course, Dallas also re-signed Kyrie Irving, and he and Luka Doncic will be at the heart of everything the Mavs do. That should mean one of the league’s best offenses like usual with Luka, but the defense is the big question after dropping from 6th to 24th in DRTG last season. What can Jason Kidd do with this roster, and will the pressure start to mount on him and the franchise as the clock ticks down on Doncic?

Biggest Questions

  • Which Doncic will the Mavs get? Through December 31 last season, he averaged 34/9/9 with an 11.9 BPM and a +143 on-court rating as Dallas posted a +2.1 net rating. From January 1 forward, he dropped to 30/8/7 on 5.7 BPM with a -15 on-court and a -2.1 team net rating as the defense and supporting cast cratered around him. What happened to Doncic when the calendar turned?
  • Which defense comes to play this season, the 109 DRTG from two years ago or the 117 from last season? Grant Williams and a healthy Kleber will help but Dallas lacks a reliable center and Josh Green is up-and-down as the perimeter stopper.
  • How worried should we be about the bad preseason vibes? Dallas didn’t win until its final games and traveled more international miles than any NBA team with a globetrotting tour.

Win Total: Over 43.5 (Bet)

I don’t love Kyrie Irving and Jason Kidd handling my money, but I like the supporting cast and have Dallas reaching 47-to-53 wins. There’s a wide margin for error here, so I have to play.

Futures Best Bet: Luka Doncic MVP +600 (BetMGM)

This is pretty simple. Doncic already posts MVP-caliber numbers every year, both by counting stats and advanced metrics, and he’s finished top six in MVP voting three times already. All that’s really been missing is the winning team profile. If Dallas wins 50 games with a good Kyrie season and a better supporting cast, Doncic is a lock to finish top three on MVP ballots with a good chance to win.

You may be able to wait for a better price after this tough preseason tour, or you might just want to bet right now and lock it in. If I could only make one MVP pick this season, Doncic would be it.

Click here to return to the table of contents.

Denver Nuggets

Offense: 3 | Defense: 15 | Projection: 50-32

Season Outlook

Any remaining questions about this team after what we saw in June? Didn’t think so.

Banners fly forever, and they change everything for this franchise. Denver now knows how much of a marathon the season is, no sprint to the finish line, and after a long summer run it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see the Nuggets play much of the new season on cruise control. Nikola Jokic did not appear to be intersted in an MVP push last spring, and Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. should continue to rest.

The championship starting five is running it back, minus a few veterans off the bench. The offense is always near the best in the league, the defense is good enough, and Denver has played at a 52+ win rate in four of the last five seasons. Turns out Jokic is pretty good.

Biggest Questions

  • How much will Denver miss those 4,000 bench minutes from Bruce Brown and others? Who stops up among Justin Holiday, Reggie Jackson, and youngsters like Peyton Watson, Zeke Nnaji, and Julian Strawther, and is it more of a regular season concern or one for the postseason?
  • Will the defense hold up? Denver has finished 12th to 15th in DRTG three straight years, but there are occasional swoons when the team loses focus. Could there be a championship hangover?

Win Total & Futures Best Bet: Under 54.5 (Lean)

I’m just not that interested in investing in Denver futures right now. If that Jamal Murray we saw in the postseason shows up all season and Jokic pushes hard, the Nuggets could win 60 games easily. If those guys only break out their A-games occasionally and save their best for the postseason as I expect, Denver can coast to a protected top-6 seed and 45 or 50 wins without breaking a sweat.

I automatically lean under on such a high number, and I’ll look to invest in title or MVP futures later once I get a better feel for Denver motivations this season.

Click here to return to the table of contents.

Golden State Warriors

Offense: 7 | Defense: 5 | Projection: 51-31

Season Outlook

Chris Paul is really a Golden State Warrior. Still feels hard to believe.

Paul has already fit in seamlessly this preseason, and the switch from Jordan Poole to CP3 might be the single biggest one-for-one swing in the league this season. Paul isn’t what he once as but he’s a great shooter, an elite facilitator who can play with or without the ball, a smart defender, a veteran leader, and a great clutch player. None of those things were true of the departed Poole.

The Warriors also get an additional half season out of Andrew Wiggins, their one starter still in his prime, and that’s a huge two-way value add. More Gary Payton II should help the defense, which dropped to 17th last season after two years in the top five as the offense returned to 8th after two years below average. Do the Warriors still have enough juice left to tie both ends of the court together for one more run?

Biggest Questions

  • How soon will Draymond Green return from injury, and can this team stay healthy? These guys are old with a ton of miles, and the team is top heavy and lacking in depth. The stars need to play.
  • We know Golden State’s top six, but else steps up off the bench? Payton is in the rotation if healthy, and it’s time for youngsters Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody to play real minutes. Will veterans Dario Saric and Cory Joseph find a home? Can rookies Trayce Jackson-Davis and Brandin Podziemski get on the court early? And will Chris Paul accept a bench role once Green returns?

Win Total: Over 48.5 (Pass)

I believe in these Warriors, but I don’t think win total is the way to bet, nor is now the time to bet them. The Draymond Green injury heading into the season is a real concern, as important as he is to this defense. At the very least, it could mean a quick dip in Warriors futures prices until we see him back healthy. I’ll buy in once we do, but health will be a concern all year for a roster this old.

My favorite Warriors team future right now is a division bet at +375 (BetMGM), in part because I’m selling all four other teams in the Pacific. Keep an eye out and grab that at +500 or longer when you smell value. I don’t buy another Steph Curry MVP season but love Draymond Green +550 (DraftKings) for All-Defensive First Team and will likely add him to my DPOY portfolio at a discount once he comes back healthy. Otherwise, this is a team I’ll be eyeing to add to my championship portfolio once I see the right number.

Futures Best Bet: Steph Curry 3s/game leader (-140, DraftKings)

Books keep letting us bet this year after year, and I just keep cashing tickets. The best shooter in human history has led the league in 3s per game in 10 of the last 11 seasons — all of them but his injury-plagued 2020. He led again last year at 4.9 per game, a full 0.5 ahead of Klay Thompson in second, and also led the league in attempts per game so that volume gives cushion even for a poor shooting year.

Curry has averaged 4.1 makes per game in seven straight healthy seasons; there are only six other such seasons in NBA history. All Steph has to do to cash this bet is stay healthy. Heck, he didn’t even do that last year, playing just 56 games, but the NBA just adds 0s up to the minimum 58 games as needed and Curry was ahead by so much that he won anyway.

annually the best futures bet on the board.

Click here to return to the table of contents.

Houston Rockets

Offense: 26 | Defense: 24 | Projection: 28-54

Season Outlook

The Rockets opened the pocketbooks this offseason and invested big, bringing in Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks for the small sum of over $200 million. Those two veterans were brought in to establish grit, hard-nosed defense, and team culture, and so too new head coach Ime Udoka. That trio should significantly raise the floor for a franchise that’s been little but terrible in recent years.

The question is how far that floor has been raised. Five of the top eight in the rotation are still 23 or younger, and heavy rookie minutes from Amen Thompsen and Cam Whitmore could be rough. Houston still needs big development from those two, Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, and Jabari Smith to take a step forward on both ends of the court.

Houston will be better, but better doesn’t necessarily mean good.

Biggest Questions

  • How much do VanVleet and Brooks really raise the floor? VanVleet was bad by his standards last year and he’s a small guard who will turn 30 this season. Brooks may not even be an upgrade on the departed K.J. Martin, and VanVleet effectively replaces Kevin Porter Jr., who was one of Houston’s better offensive players last season.
  • How much defense can Udoka coax out of this roster? Brooks is a better defender by reputation than actuality, and team still lacks a good defensive center and rim protector.

Win Total: Under 31.5 (Bet)

Betting the Rockets under has been an annual rite of passage for me, and this was the first under I played when lines opened in July. I absolutely think Houston will be better, but this team won 19, 20, and 22 games the last three seasons. Are the Rockets really 10 wins better? I don’t see it.

Houston has gone under five straight seasons, and if they’re not in the thick of the play-in race late, they’re incentivized to tank late in hopes of keeping a traded top-4-protected pick that effectively expires if the Rockets keep it this year. Houston is simply going to have to win and take my money.

Futures Best Bet: Rockets In-Season Tournament Group B winner (+1600, FanDuel)

This is partly belief in the Rockets playing hard and just as much a bet on these long shot group winners being mispriced. These group stages are just four games. Almost any NBA team can win two or three out of four games, and I think it’s a mistake to assume the title favorites will just coast through these early stages.

Houston starts home against the Pelicans, then at the Clippers, home Nuggets, at Mavs. It’s entirely possible the Rockets start 2-0 or 2-1, which at the very least provides ample hedge opportunities. Maybe Houston wins the group outright. Denver typically starts slow and has bigger fish to fry. The Pelicans are missing guys early. The Mavs start the season tired and need time to gel. The Clippers are never healthy.

The Rockets are the exact sort of culture-building team that will try hard in these tournament games. Winning the group could be the high-water mark for the entire season. Why not give them a shot? I’ll be looking at other long shot group winners too; they look like +EV bets to me until books adjust.

Click here to return to the table of contents.

LA Clippers

Offense: 17 | Defense: 16 | Projection: 42-40

Season Outlook

Guess the Clippers are doing this again.

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are back, though what version and how much remains to be seen. Russell Westbrook has signed on for another season, and the Clippers are apparently determined to run it back at least one more time and see if this team can finally get through a full year healthy.

The Clippers defense dropped off to 18th a year ago after consecutive seasons at No. 8, and the offense has finished below average two consecutive seasons. There’s little doubt this team can still look really good when Kawhi and PG are healthy and playing together, but it doesn’t happen enough, and the vaunted depth is getting older and isn’t quite as valuable as it used to be.

Biggest Questions

  • How much Kawhi and PG will this team get, and how good? Do either of them have an MVP season in them? How about an MVP month? How about just both getting on the court in April and May?
  • What will Russell Westbrook add to the regular season team? He was a great floor raiser in the playoffs with the stars hurt, but it could be a different story in a lower-usage role.

Win Total: Under 46.5 (Lean)

The Clippers are 3-1 to the under since Kawhi Leonard and Paul George joined the team. That duo just can’t stay healthy, and it would feel foolish to assume otherwise at this point.

Futures Best Bet: Kawhi Leonard 25 PPG & 7 RPG (+800, DraftKings)

I’m really not interested in investing much in Clippers team futures. Leonard averaged 23.8 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last season which is already in range, especially since he played under 25 minutes seven times. He’s always a threat to do that, of course, but these are perfectly attainable numbers Kawhi hit in two of his last four seasons. Doesn’t hurt that there’s no games minimum listed.

Click here to return to the table of contents.

Los Angeles Lakers

Offense: 15 | Defense: 17 | Projection: 42-40

Season Outlook

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but a LeBron James team has completely remade its roster from one year to the next. Six of the top 10 in Lakers minutes played last season are gone. Hello Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince, and Christian Wood. Welcome back D’Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura, and Jarred Vanderbilt, last year’s midseason acquisitions.

But for all those names, Austin Reaves is the guy who saved the season. Reaves is a third star, and his rise post All-Star break helped the Lakers take a significant leap offensively and gave LeBron and Anthony Davis some help and a little rest heading into the postseason. The renewed supporting cast should give this team a safer floor, but the ceiling still depends, like always, on the two stars at the top.

Biggest Questions

  • How much will James and Davis play in the regular season? Can they both stay healthy together?
  • What is the offensive ceiling? The Lakers have finished 20th or worse in ORTG three straight seasons, an unbelievable stat for a LeBron team. Can guys like Russell, Reaves, and Wood get LA to at least league average on that end?

Win Total: Under 47.5 (Bet)

Seasoned bettors know the Lakers under is one of the first futures to look at in th

This post first appeared on National Post Today, please read the originial post: here

Share the post

NBA Win Totals, Futures Best Bets: Previews for All 30 Teams


Subscribe to National Post Today

Get updates delivered right to your inbox!

Thank you for your subscription