Last Tuesday, the LVH Superbook (based in Las Vegas) released their over/under win totals for every team in the NBA. In short, the book sets a number of wins for each team, and people can bet on if the team will reach or fall short of that predetermined number. A lot of money depends on these numbers, so normally (obviously there are exceptions), the numbers are a pretty reasonable and accurate place to start. The Superbook has the Blazers pegged at winning 38.5 games (the half a game is due to the fact that you can bet over or under the amount).
I think this prediction is too low. On one hand, the Blazers won only 33 games last year, so a five and a half game jump is actually quite large, and nothing to scoff about. Numbers don’t mean much without context though, and that 33 win total requires context. The Blazers finished the year on a well-documented 13 game losing streak. Injuries played a significant role in this streak, as the overworked starters started to wear down and the playoffs slipped out of reach. Before the streak started, the Blazers were sitting at a 33-36 record, for a 0.478 winning percentage.
Assuming that players didn’t have to sit for injuries and the plug wasn’t essentially pulled on the season, it seems reasonable to assume that of those final 13 games, the Blazers could have won approximately 47.8% of them. This would equate to six more wins (rounding down). So boom, right away, those six hypothetical wins at the end of last season could have pushed last year’s squad to 39 wins. I think everyone is in consensus that this year’s team is better than last year’s, so if last year’s was capable of 39 wins, it only seems logical that this year’s can surpass 38.5.
Another angle to consider is that many predictions (my own included) have the Blazers in the hunt for a playoff spot. Last year, in a brutal Western Conference, the 7th and 8th seeds were captured by teams with 45 wins (the Lakers and Rockets). While there was some minor shuffling of the hierarchy in the Western Conference, it remains just as tough, if not even more difficult this season. Based on this information, it again seems reasonable to expect that to at least be in consideration for a playoff berth, the Blazers must be in the neighborhood of 45 wins, like was required last year. This is also well above the Superbook’s projected win total, another reason why I think it is too low.
Last year’s Jazz (43 wins) and Mavericks (41 wins) were both well above the 38.5 mark, and didn’t even make the playoffs. Even if the Blazers unfortunately do not reach their goal of the playoffs this year, I still think it is more than likely that the team will exceed the projection of 38.5 wins.
While I think the number is certainly too low, I don’t think it’s inherently good or bad. The prediction is purely for betting, so it just offers an interesting benchmark. What might make more tangible bulletin board material, though, are the teams ranked above the Blazers. The Pelicans (40 wins), Timberwolves (41 wins) and Mavericks (44 wins) all have higher projected win totals. While I fully expect the Timberwolves and Mavericks to be in the thick of the playoff race with the Blazers, I can’t say I am fully onboard with the Pelicans bandwagon. I am also skeptical that the Mavericks are expected to be nearly six wins better than the Blazers.
With the season rapidly approaching, let’s hope that the Blazers can comfortably smash the book’s prediction and roll into the playoffs.