NBA win total odds: How every team's 2018-19 projections have changed since the end of last season

It's been well over a month now since the 2017-18 NBA season came to a close with the Golden State Warriors sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Finals to win their second straight title and third in four seasons. It's also been nearly three weeks since free agency opened up, and most of the big moves are out of the way. 

Thus, it's a perfect time to take a very early look at next season. Thanks to SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh, we can run the simulations and project how things will go. Of course, these are just projections, and plenty of things will change over the next year or so. Still, it's an interesting bit of info to consider. 

Here's a look at the Eastern Conference. Projected playoff teams in bold, with projected finish in parenthesis. 

Team

Win total projection on June 20

Win total projection on July 20

IMPACT

Atlanta Hawks (9)

27.3

35.4

+8.1

Boston Celtics (2)

56.2

56.4

+0.2

Brooklyn Nets (10)

30.4

33.5

+3.1

Charlotte Hornets (12)

33.2

30.6

-2.6

Chicago Bulls (15)

21

19.7

-1.3

Cleveland Cavaliers (14)

50.9

25.6

-25.3

Detroit Pistons (5)

42.4

41.7

-0.7

Indiana Pacers (4)

50.7

49

-1.7

Miami Heat (6)

41.6

41.6

--

Milwaukee Bucks (7)

41.7

41.6

-0.1

New York Knicks (11)

32.6

33.2

+0.6

Orlando Magic (13)

31.1

29.3

-1.8

Philadelphia 76ers (3)

54.2

53.7

-0.5

Toronto Raptors (1)

54.4

58.4

+4

Washington Wizards (8)

36.9

37.3

+0.4

Some notes on these numbers:

  • The most notable thing here is that per Oh's projections, the Kawhi Leonard trade will help the Raptors retain the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. This is despite the fact that the Celtics are set to regain both Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving for the start of next season.
  • Perhaps it is difficult for the simulations to adjust for coaching changes, but the Bucks being so low with just 41.7 wins is surprising. They added some solid veterans in Ersan Ilyasova and Brook Lopez and will have a much better coach in Mike Budenholzer, but the numbers say they will actually win less games than last season.
  • The Cavaliers obviously are the big loser here. While everyone knows they'll be much worse next season, it is interesting that the sims have them as the second-worst team in the conference, behind the likes of the Knicks, Nets and Hawks. 
  • Also, it's probably not a great sign for the Bulls that they re-signed Zach LaVine to a huge deal and gave potentially $40M to Jabari Parker and still projected to be worse. 
  • Additionally, it's a bit surprising that the simulations have such a clear top eight teams in the East. The Wizards come in at No. 8, with a projected two-plus-win advantage over the Hawks(?). If you were to ask analysts, it would likely not be that clear, as the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoffs could go a number of ways.
  • Speaking of that, how about that Hawks' number? Thirty-five wins seems absurdly high for a team that will probably be starting Trae Young, Kent Bazemore, Taurean Prince, John Collins and Dewayne Dedmon

And now a look at the Western Conference.

Team

Win total projection on June 20

Win total projection on July 20

IMPACT

Dallas Mavericks (11)

29.5

42.1

+12.6

Denver Nuggets (9)

43.5

43.9

+0.4

Golden State Warriors (1)

64.4

64.7

+0.3

Houston Rockets (2)

57.8

51.8

-6

Clippers (15)

29.9

21.1

-8.8

Los Angeles Lakers (3)

31.4

50.9

+19.5

Memphis Grizzlies (12)

33.6

35.7

+2.1

Minnesota Timberwolves (10)

48.4

43.4

-5

New Orleans Pelicans (5)

45.7

46.4

+0.7

Oklahoma City Thunder (7)

45

45.9

+0.9

Phoenix Suns (14)

17.3

27.6

+10.3

Portland Trail Blazers (8)

47.2

44.1

-3.1

Sacramento Kings (13)

28

29.5

+1.5

San Antonio Spurs (4)

55.8

49.9

-5.9

Utah Jazz (6)

48.1

46.3

-1.8

Some notes on these numbers:

  • For all of the initial shock about the Warriors adding DeMarcus Cousins, the simulations only show it helping them to an additional 0.3 wins when taken in conjunction with their other moves. 
  • After losing Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute, it's no surprise that the Rockets are projected to fall out of the top spot in the West. Still, it's clear that they're one of the two top teams.
  • As should come as no surprise, the Lakers make the biggest jump, with the projections showing them gaining 19.5 wins, thanks to their offseason moves. While some people aren't convinced this team will make the playoffs in a crowded West, the sims have them comfortably in with the third seed. 
  • Another interesting note about the numbers for the Western Conference is the improvements for the Mavericks and Suns. They were two of the league's worst teams last season, and they should both be much better. It probably won't be enough to make the playoffs, but it just shows how difficult the West is going to be. 
  • The Pelicans' number here is also worth noting, as the sims have them being better than last season. They played very well down the stretch without DeMarcus Cousins, and the projections like the move to replace him and Rajon Rondo with Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton
  • These numbers have to be disappointing if you're a Nuggets fan. Even assuming the health of Paul Millsap, and considering the addition of Isaiah Thomas, these projections still have the Nuggets falling just short of the postseason.
  • One final thing to take note of is the sim still believes in the Spurs. Swapping Kawhi Leonard for DeMar DeRozan is going to hurt their record (-5.9 wins), but they're still projected to get the No. 4 overall seed in a very strong conference. 

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NBA Writer

Jack Maloney lives and writes in Milwaukee, where, like the Bucks, he is trying to own the future. Full Bio

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