Friday, October 25, 2013

2013-14 NBA Win Over/Under Predictions

Hi there. We're back with our annual post offering our predictions for picking NBA regular-season win over/unders.

For the record, we were 5-2 in O/U predictions in 2012-13 and the 71% success rate lifted our lifetime winning percentage since we started The Painted Area to a robust 68.1%.

Here are our year-by-year records for the seven years we've been publishing our picks: **********************
For 2013-14, 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 projected '13-14 wins from ESPN Insider Kevin Pelton's SCHOENE projection system, and
c) provided '12-13 wins.

As always, these are for entertainment purposes only.
    (O/U Line  - KP - '12-13)
    MIA   61.5 - 54 - 66
    CHI   56.5 - 50 - 45
    IND   54.5 - 49 - 49
    BKN   52.5 - 50 - 49
    NYK   49.5 - 37 - 54
    DET   40.5 - 49 - 29
    CLE   40.5 - 37 - 24
    ATL   39.5 - 44 - 44
    WAS   39.5 - 35 - 29
    TOR   35.5 - 37 - 34
    MIL   28.5 - 32 - 38
    BOS   27.5 - 29 - 41
    CHA   26.5 - 32 - 21
    ORL   23.5 - 23 - 20
    PHI   17.5 - 24 - 34
    (O/U Line  - KP - '12-13)
    LAC   56.5 - 55 - 56
    SAS   55.5 - 60 - 58
    HOU   54.5 - 53 - 45
    OKC   52.5 - 51 - 60
    GSW   51.5 - 42 - 47
    MEM   50.5 - 49 - 56
    DEN   45.5 - 44 - 57
    DAL   43.5 - 44 - 41
    MIN   41.5 - 51 - 31
    NOH   39.5 - 41 - 27
    POR   38.5 - 41 - 33
    LAL   36.5 - 35 - 45
    SAC   31.5 - 28 - 28
    UTH   25.5 - 34 - 43
    PHX   20.5 - 20 - 25
Here are the predictions we feel most strongly about this season:
  • MIA Under 61.5
  • DET Over 40.5
  • GSW Under 51.5
  • SAC Over 31.5
  • CHA Over 26
  • NYK Under 49.5
  • MEM Over 50.5
Here's our rationale on the team picks:
MIAMI UNDER 61.5 (66 last season)
The Heat are likely to be the oldest team in the NBA and, if they pull off the threepeat, nearly the oldest champion in league history. Miami is coming off three straight grueling trips to the Finals - trying to become the first team since the '87 Celtics to make it back a fourth straight year.

And they are likely a little worse this season, given that Dwyane Wade is still hurting as the season starts, and they lost Mike Miller and mostly just got older otherwise. Wild cards Greg Oden and/or Michael Beasley are their main hopes for improvement.

Regardless of what you think the Heat will do come playoff time, it's hard to imagine they'll have enough juice and motivation to get back to the 60-win mark in the regular season, especially given how much energy is required to execute their defensive scheme optimally.

Out of seven teams which have chased a threepeat in the last quarter-century, only the '98 Bulls have surpassed 61.5 wins, and they did so with 62 W's, and even that was a decline from an average of 70.5 wins in the previous two seasons. Several threepeat chasers landed in the 57-58 range, and that's about what we expect from these Heat.

DETROIT OVER 40.5 (29 last season)
Three of the top five players in minutes for Detroit last season were Brandon Knight, Kyle Singler and Jason Maxiell. Yes, the parts of the new-look Pistons may not match perfectly, but read that first sentence again. Plug in Brandon Jennings (whom we think is a significant upgrade over Knight) and Josh Smith, plus a larger role for Andre Drummond (7th in minutes last year), and we think the talent upgrade is too massive to ignore.

We expect this team to be a solid 40-plus win team, in the running for the 5th or 6th seed. Our only area of concern would be that we wish they'd hired a better coach than Maurice Cheeks. George Karl would've been a great fit for this club, and Brian Shaw would've been preferable, as well.

GOLDEN STATE UNDER 51.5 (47 last season)
We love the Andre Iguodala acquisition, really we do. But departures Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack played significant roles last year. And as exciting as Golden State's surprise playoff run was, it was heavily dependent on Andrew Bogut being healthy enough to provide elite interior defensive play.

This is really a bet against Bogut's health as much as anything. The big Aussie has averaged just 43 games played over the last five seasons. Without him, the Warriors' frontcourt gets mighty thin, and may not be able to stop anybody. They'd rely on Jermaine O'Neal, a man with an equally troubling recent history of health.

Other concerns include the loss of assistant coach Mike Malone, who had major responsibility and was the architect of the team's improved defense, and that the Warriors had the point differential of just a 44-win team (+0.9).

But this pick will likely all come down to Bogut. If he plays 70+ games - something he's done twice in eight seasons, and not since 2007-08 - this pick'll be in trouble. If he's under that, we'll probably be right.

SACRAMENTO OVER 31.5 (28 last season)
Speaking of new Sacramento coach Mike Malone, this pick is mainly about him. The Kings ranked 29th in defense last season, and we expect Malone to improve that standing significantly. This is a team which played very good offense after the All-Star break/Thomas Robinson trade last year. We're a little concerned that going from Tyreke Evans to Ben McLemore is a talent downgrade, but have greater belief in Malone's impact on D.

CHARLOTTE OVER 26 (21 last season)
Again, a positive coaching change plays a big role here. Charlotte has hired Steve Clifford, who is a Van Gundy/Thibodeau disciple, and the early returns have been startling. The Bobcats have surrendered just 84 points per game in preseason (in approximately 95 possessions per game by my estimation) after ranking dead last in defense last season, giving up about 109 points per 100 possessions.

Yes, we know: it's preseason, it's preseason, it's preseason. But Charlotte doesn't have to come anywhere near the elite defensive numbers it's been posting in October. If the MikeCats can simply get up around 20th in the league on D, they should surpass 26 wins easily.

Further, all the evidence suggests this team should be better. Al Jefferson and Cody Zeller are replacing Byron Mullins, and there are some very young players who should show improvement, in addition to what we believe will be a strong coaching change. We'd expect low-30s in Ws, and wouldn't be surprised by mid-30s.

NEW YORK UNDER 49.5 (54 last season)
The Knicks have the biggest spread between their O/U line and Pelton's SCHOENE projection (37 wins). For a team that was so dependent upon three-point shooting for its offense and Tyson Chandler for its defense, we worry that the Knicks have replaced some sharpshooters with league-average shooters and we worry about Chandler being able to stay healthy. Further, the East has gotten stronger at the top, with the Nets, Bulls and Pacers all improving. Not sure we'd predict New York to regress as far as SCHOENE does - we still see them as a 5 or 6 seed, but probably in the mid-40s rather than low-50s after their charmed season in '12-13.

MEMPHIS OVER 50.5 (56 last season)
We don't entirely understand why the conventional wisdom seems to be down on Memphis. This is largely the same club which won 56 last season, with Marc Gasol and Mike Conley still in their primes.

Yes, Zach Randolph's age is a concern, but we like how Le Grizz fortified their frontcourt depth by flipping Darrell Arthur into Kosta Koufos, and believe Ed Davis will be ready to offer more support this season. We also think they've patched some gaping holes in their roster by adding Mike Miller to provide shooting from the wing, and Nick Calathes to contribute at backup point guard. The transition from a solid veteran head coach in Lionel Hollins to a rookie like Dave Joerger is always a variable, but we think Joerger has the makings of a good one.

Alright, folks, just four days until tip off. The League is back, rejoice.