With the 2017-18 NBA season nearly upon us, it’s time to take a look at season win totals. The Golden State Warriors have the highest win total at 67.5, while the Chicago Bulls, who are expected to be one of the league’s worst teams after trading Jimmy Butler, have the lowest total (22.5) in the NBA.
Which 2017-18 NBA win totals are offering value?
One statistic that is helpful in projecting team wins is real plus-minus. Real plus-minus estimates how many points each player on a team adds or subtracts, on average, to his team’s net scoring margin for every 100 possessions. ESPN’s Kevin Pelton uses this stat to predict regular season wins.
Based on Pelton’s projections you can find discrepancies between RPM win totals and the lines posted in Vegas. If you had bet every positive differential on the Over and every negative differential on the Under the last two seasons you would have gone 36-24 (60.0%). If you just bet the teams with the largest differences (5 or more games) you would have gone 9-3 (75.0%).
Here are the teams with the biggest discrepancies in 2017 based on Pelton’s projections and the win totals at BetOnline.
- Boston Celtics: UNDER 53.5 (-8.7)
- Chicago Bulls: OVER 22.5 (+6.6)
- Cleveland Cavaliers: UNDER 54.5 (-5.3)
- Utah Jazz: OVER 39.5 (+5.2)
- Oklahoma City Thunder: UNDER 53.5 (-5.1)
- Golden State Warriors: UNDER 67.5 (-5.1)
- Philadelphia 76ers: UNDER 38.5 (-5)
All of these bets would qualify as contrarian plays. The Warriors and Cavs are the title favorites, while the Celtics and Thunder added star players in the offseason to compete with Golden State and Cleveland. Philly is everyone’s pick as the team of the future with promising young stars in Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons. And little is expected of the Bulls and Jazz, lost Gordon Hayward and George Hill.
One factor that could impact the projections is the NBA’s effort to give players more rest. This season there will be no four-in-fives and fewer back-to-back games. Extra time to recover is great for all players but benefits the best teams in the league the most. Teams are much less likely to suffer a scheduling loss this year.
Real plus-minus is not the only statistic to consider when betting win totals but it is predictive and can give bettors an edge when handicapping.
2017-18 NBA Win Totals
|New Orleans Pelicans||44.2||39.5||4.7|
|Los Angeles Clippers||48.1||44.5||3.6|
|Portland Trail Blazers||43.8||40.5||3.3|
|New York Knicks||32||30.5||1.5|
|Los Angeles Lakers||33||32.5||0.5|
|San Antonio Spurs||52.6||54.5||-1.9|
|Golden State Warriors||62.4||67.5||-5.1|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||48.4||53.5||-5.1|