2011-12 NBA Win Over/Under Predictions
It's once again time for the annual favorite here at The Painted Area, as we offer our predictions for picking NBA regular-season win over/unders. We're under the gun here this season, as the craziness of this offseason postponed any O/U lines until the last couple days, so these are really for posterity's sake, as we've raced to get them posted just before season tip-off.
For the record, we were 5-2 in O/U predictions in 2010-11, with the 71% success rate lifting our lifetime percentage since we started The Painted Area to a robust 66.7%.
Here are our year-by-year records for the four years we've been publishing our picks:
For 2011-12, let's go straight to the data. What we've done below is:
- a) sorted each conference in order of the posted over/under line for season wins,
b) provided predicted '11-12 wins from two of the smartest men in the business: ESPN's John Hollinger, and Basketball Prospectus' Kevin Pelton (from his essential book, Pro Basketball Prospectus 2011-12), and
c) provided '10-11 wins, *pro-rated to a 66-game season for apples-to-apples comparison.
EASTThis year's 66-game schedule is 80.5% as long as the standard 82-game season. For reference, here are how 66-game win totals translate to a 82-game slate:
(O/U Line - JH/KP - '10-11*)
MIA 50.5 - 52/48 - 47
CHI 47.5 - 48/46 - 50
NYK 41.5 - 35/36 - 34
BOS 38.5 - 43/36 - 45
ORL 37.5 - 40/40 - 42
PHI 36.5 - 37/36 - 33
IND 36.5 - 36/33 - 30
ATL 34.5 - 33/31 - 35
MIL 31.5 - 34/32 - 28
NJN 25.5 - 28/29 - 19
DET 21.5 - 22/26 - 24
WAS 20.5 - 22/20 - 19
CLE 16.5 - 18/22 - 15
TOR 16.5 - 19/28 - 18
CHA 15.5 - 13/28 - 27
(O/U Line - JH/KP - '10-11*)
OKC 48.5 - 45/40 - 44
DAL 42.5 - 39/37 - 46
SAS 40.5 - 42/38 - 49
LAC 40.5 - 41/40 - 26
LAL 40.5 - 40/34 - 46
MEM 38.5 - 37/32 - 37
DEN 37.5 - 43/35 - 40
POR 37.5 - 38/38 - 39
HOU 32.5 - 32/33 - 35
PHX 27.5 - 24/28 - 32
GSW 26.5 - 26/25 - 29
UTH 25.5 - 27/30 - 31
NOH 24.5 - 22/31 - 37
MIN 24.5 - 29/33 - 14
SAC 20.5 - 25/26 - 19
Here are what we're calling the consensus picks from Hollinger/Pelton - teams which are at least three wins above or below the line in the same direction by both men's projections:
- NYK Under 41.5
MIN Over 24.5
SAC Over 20.5
OKC Under 48.5
DAL Under 42.5
THE PAINTED AREA'S RECOMMENDED 2011-12 O/U PREDICTIONS
A couple key factors seem to be driving our picks this year: coaching changes and team depth, given the unique nature of this year's condensed schedule.
Here are our picks for 2011-12:
- TOR Over 16.5
- DET Over 21.5
- MIN Over 24.5
- DEN Over 37.5
- NYK Under 41.5
- LAL Under 40.5
- MIL Over 31.5
TORONTO OVER 16.5 (22 last season/18 pro-rated)
DETROIT OVER 21.5 (30 last season/24 pro-rated)
Two similar situations here. These were two of the worst defensive teams in the league last season, and neither team had a whole lot of roster turnover in the offseason, though both teams made what we consider to be significant coaching upgrades to defensive-minded coaches. Toronto moved from Jay Triano to the architect of Dallas' championship defense, Dwane Casey, while Detroit changed leadership from John Kuester to Lawrence Frank. Also, while both these teams are lottery-bound because of a lack of star talent, the Raptors and the Pistons do both have pretty good depth, which should help them grab a few extra wins. Ultimately, we're expecting both these teams to be a little better due to defensive improvement, rather than a little worse, which is why we're going over.
MINNESOTA OVER 24.5 (17 last season/14 pro-rated)
This is another selection rooted primarily in a coaching change, as the T-wolves moved from an atrocious head coach in Kurt Rambis to an outstanding one in Rick Adelman. It makes us a little nervous that this over requires such a big jump in wins, but we're going to trust in our guys Hollinger and Pelton, who both project Minny handily above the number. The Minnesota roster is filled with young players who should be on the upswing, and they have plenty of depth, as well.
NEW YORK UNDER 41.5 (42 last season/34 pro-rated)
We're trusting Hollinger and Pelton again here, as both project the Knicks well below their O/U line. We fully believe in the logic that a roster which is injury-prone at the top and quite thin in reserve is not terribly well-built for this season. The only thing that makes us nervous is that someone other than Miami and Chicago has to win significant games in the East, and the Knicks seem like they have as good a shot as any of the remaining teams to do so.
L.A. LAKERS UNDER 40.5 (57 last season/46 pro-rated)
There could not be a team built worse for this particular season, given how old and fiber-optic thin they are in terms of talent. Not only do the Lakers only have three good players, but there are significant questions about how well two of those guys, Kobe and Bynum, can physically withstand the grueling schedule. This is a team in decline, not a championship contender as presently constructed.
DENVER OVER 37.5 (50 last season/40 pro-rated)
As we wrote in our season predictions post yesterday, we've totally bought the Mile-High Kool-Aid that John Hollinger was selling on this team in his Western Conference forecast. Now that Nene and Arron Afflalo are back in the fold, the Nuggets are perfectly constructed for the truncated season - outstanding depth, with one of the best second-units in basketball, plus the high-altitude home-court advantage which should be more pronounced than ever.
MILWAUKEE OVER 31.5 (35 last season/28 pro-rated)
After a 46-win season in '09-10, the Bucks were the team hit hardest by injuries in '10-11. We think they'll have a solid bounce-back above .500, and in particular, we like what we're reading about how Andrew Bogut is feeling, after struggling all last season with the elbow that he injured seriously in '09-10. We do have some concerns about when the inevitable Scott Skiles burnout will occur, but we're rolling with the Bucks nonetheless.
OK, there you have it. If there's one team we feel like we might regret including, it's San Antonio, with a line set at 40.5 (equivalent to about 50.5 for an 82-game regular season). This is a team which has played 50-plus-win basketball for the entirety of Tim Duncan's career, since '97-98. Alas, the age of the often-banged up Big 3 has me a little too skittish.
Happy holidays, everyone - thanks for reading and enjoy the season!