If I had to describe the NBA offseason with one word, the word would be MONEY.
It goes without saying that a lot of bad contracts were signed. A ton of money exchanged hands after the salary cap shot up to $94.143 million, an increase of roughly $24 million. I have a feeling NBA owners will want another ‘amnesty clause’ in the next CBA to bail themselves out from some of these deals.
The Cleveland Cavaliers won the Eastern Conference last season and are early favorites to repeat this season. Any sleepers out there worth a bet?
Here are our over/under season wins total picks for the NBA’s Eastern Conference.
Atlanta Hawks – 43 1/2 Wins – OVER
Atlanta lost PG Jeff Teague and PF Al Horford this offseason. Those are huge losses, but I think signing C Dwight Howard and placing PG Dennis Schroeder in a leadership role should help offset their losses. I like the addition of PG Jarrett Jack to backup the young Schroeder.
Boston Celtics – 52 1/2 – UNDER
This one is close. I really like them, but their youth scares me a little. I think they will trade some of their young talent or future picks for someone during the season. I think they need another veteran leader on the team. The addition of PF Al Horford helps fill that need, but there is still a big need for experience. I’m going with the under, but it will be close.
Brooklyn Nets – 20 1/2 – UNDER
Man, I’m just seeing a lot of randomness on the Nets roster. It could turn into something that wins 20-something games, but I don’t see it. I do love SG Bojan Bogdanovic, but there’s a lot of retread talent that surrounds him.
Charlotte Hornets – 42 1/2 – OVER
This is another one that will be cutting it close. The Hornets return most of their top scorers from last year with the exception of C Al Jefferson. I think there’s enough talent on the team to get a #7 or #8 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Chicago Bulls – 38 1/2 – OVER
The Bulls lost PG Derrick Rose and C Joakim Noah this offseason. They did sign veteran SG Dwyane Wade, who will let SG Jimmy Butler carry the team. Wade will probably pick his spots, but most likely will be a spot shooter along with SF Doug McDermott. I also like the addition of Rajon Rondo, but he will need to understand that Butler likes the ball in his hands to create off the dribble. The Bulls are a sleeper team to make the postseason.
Cleveland Cavaliers – 56 1/2 – UNDER
I don’t think win totals are important for the Cavaliers at this point. SF LeBron James and PF Kevin Love will get their share of off-days this season to prepare for the grueling postseason.
Detroit Pistons – 45 1/2 – UNDER
The Pistons could be a bit underwhelming this season. I like the midseason addition of SF Tobias Harris and then signing my man C Boban Marjanovic this offseason, but the East is deep this season. The Pistons could fall a few wins short of the over/under.
Indiana Pacers – 44 1/2 – OVER
The Indiana Pacers are my team and I’m always very hyper-critical of them. I loved their off-season additions of PG Jeff Teague, C Al Jefferson and PF Thaddeus Young. They will have a solid rotation with SF Paul George, SG Monta Ellis, PF Myles Turner, PG Rodney Stuckey, SF C.J. Miles and others. I like the Pacers this season, but I would love them if they had one or two more shooters.
Miami Heat – 34 1/2 – UNDER
SG Dwyane Wade is now in Chicago and PF Chris Bosh’s career is in jeopardy due to a blood clot issue. I have a feeling Miami could start to ship some pieces off for picks or young players. I think the under is very likely.
Milwaukee Bucks – 34 1/2 – OVER
I love that the Bucks are going to play SF Giannis Antetokounmpo at point guard this season. He will be a matchup nightmare for teams. It’s unfortunate that SF Kris Middleton will miss six months after rupturing his hamstring. They still have a very talented team. I think rookie PF Thon Maker could make a difference on the team this season. It’s a long shot since they are stacked in the front-court, but you never know.
New York Knicks – 38 1/2 – OVER
The Knicks added two former Chicago Bulls players this offseason, PG Derrick Rose and C Joakim Noah…but the new player I’m the most excited about is PG Brandon Jennings. Jennings was on his way to a breakout season in 2014-15 before tearing his ACL. He had a pretty forgettable year last season, but he’s over a year removed from surgery now. I expect a lot from him. I think the Knicks could battle for the eighth seed in the East.
Orlando Magic – 37 1/2 – UNDER
I like pieces on the Magic, but there’s something about the roster that doesn’t look like it will mesh. New head coach Frank Vogel will have to work his magic (pun unintended). I’m curious to see how the new front-court pairing of PF Serge Ibaka and C Nikola Vujevic will play together. I also would like to see SG Mario Hezonja get more minutes this season. There’s just a lot of ‘what ifs’ with Orlando.
Philadelphia 76ers – OFF THE BOARD – TBD
Vegas pulled their win total off the board after rookie SF Ben Simmons broke his foot. There’s now a chance that they could sit him an entire year, which is now becoming a bit routine in Philly with C Nerlens Noel and C Joel Embiid sitting out at least a year to start their careers.
Toronto Raptors – 50 1/2 – OVER
The Raptors return every impact player from last season. They won 56 games last season and I think they will finish around there this season. I’m predicting a SG DeMar DeRozan to have a down year. I don’t like it when young players get their first big payday. I’ve seen plenty of young guys get lazy after landing big deals. I don’t think he is worth that kind of money in the first place. They should still easily hit the over.
Washington Wizards – 42 1/2 – UNDER
I like Washington’s back-court, but I’m not in love with just about everything else. They made some nice depth additions this offseason. I think PG Trey Burke and C Ian Mahinmi will help, but as I said before, the East is deep. It will be a challenge to go .500 this season.
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.