Ah, the creme de la creme of the NBA. These are the six teams that are most likely to be hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy in June.
In light of KD's injury, the Thunder are looking at regressing a bit from the last few seasons. A lot of this depends when Durant comes back, but Serge Ibaka (10 wins) and Russell Westbrook (eight wins) will keep the team in the upper half in the West until the return of Iceberg Slim.
This line may have been before the announcement of Durant's injury. If so, the line obviously has come down since then, meaning that Vegas probably pegs the Thunder in the low 50s.
I think Westbrook will be able to carry the team; the real question is if Ibaka can become an 18-20 point per game scorer, the team could surpass 50 wins with ease. If not, OKC might be looking at missing 50 wins for the first time in a few years.
The model does like the Bulls, but did penalize the Bulls a bit for Derrick Rose's (seven wins) injury troubles. The team will still revolve around the core of Jimmy Butler (11 wins), Joakim Noah (12 wins) and Taj Gibson (three wins).
Vegas thinks that the Bulls' additions of Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott, and the reintegration of Rose, are worth another six wins from last year's team.
53 wins seems pretty accurate for this team, which should have an improved offense this season and shouldn't have to require a superhuman effort from Noah like during last season. Rose's injury risk or inability to be the same player as earlier in his career keeps this team from being on the same level as the Cavaliers or any other contender, however.
Another popular regression candidate among the public, the model thinks the Rockets, rejuvenated by the arrival of Trevor Ariza (nine wins). The model likes all five Rockets starts, collectively pegging them for 49 wins. No Parsons? No problem.
Vegas thinks the Rockets will regress too, probably thanks to the departures of Chandler Parsons, Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin.
I don't see why the Rockets should regress - Dwight Howard looks healthier, Ariza plugs a lot of their weaknesses and Parsons was not that great. I think this team is a lock for anywhere between 53 and 56 wins.
The team everyone has their eyes on coming into this season, the Cavs look like they'll lock up the East with relative ease. Backed by the new Big Three of LeBron James (17 wins), Kevin Love (10 wins) and Kyrie Irving (five wins), the Cavs look to have one of the all-time great offenses.
Vegas feels pretty similarly about the Cavs, possibly building in some injury concern with Love and Irving, who both have checkered injury histories.
Given that this team is just coalescing and learning a new system, a win total in the high-50s in its first year seems reasonable. I think this team will win over 60 games for four seasons starting next season, though.
Speaking of Big Threes, the Clips' Big Three of DeAndre Jordan (13 wins), Blake Griffin (nine wins) and Chris Paul (17 wins) might be enough to take the Clippers to the Finals this year. While none of their offseason additions will make much noise, this team should gel and develop in its second year under Doc Rivers.
For some reason, Vegas thinks that the Clippers might regress from last season, possibly due to concerns about usurping teams in the West.
I could see this team winning 60 games and the West relatively easily.
Is anyone surprised to see Los Spurs at number one? I hope not. Another year and another dominant season for the Spurs will increasingly result from the development of Kawhi Leonard (14 wins), backed up by the Big Three (seven wins each). Once again, the Spurs will have one of the best benches in the game, resulting in them having an incredibly deep team.
Vegas knows to never bet against the Spurs, but also knows that Gregg Popovich doesn't care about the regular season. Pop will rest his starters as he sees fit, and this could deflate his team's regular-season win total.
I, for one, never bet against the Spurs. This team is a lock to win at least 58 games, and could creep into the low-60s without anyone batting an eyelash.
Sleepers and lower-seeded playoff teams reside here. It's somewhat likely that one of these teams will claw its way to its conference finals, but the teams here are clearly a cut below contention.
No. 12: Portland Trail Blazers
Model Prediction: 43-39 (No. 7 Seed in the West)
Led by one of the league's best starting fives (of which the model thinks LaMarcus Aldridge is the worst, curiously), Portland gets almost 80 percent of its wins from its starters. The model feels similarly about this team as it did the Suns, not believing the career-best performances of Robin Lopez and Wes Matthews last year are sustainable.
Vegas Over/Under: 49-33
Vegas believes Rip City is due for some regression as well this season, but less than the model does. With Dame Lillard's improvement and an improved bench, it's possible that this team will be largely able to hedge against regression.
I see this team winning between 46 and 49 wins, regressing some but building on its young stars.
No. 11: Toronto Raptors
Model Prediction: 43-39 (No. 5 Seed in EAST)
Another team that the model severely underestimated last season, Toronto is another regression candidate, according to the model. The strong Raptors backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan had career years last year, and the model isn't sold on that repeating.
Vegas Over/Under: 48.5-33.5
Vegas is sold on the Raptors feel-good story and the continued growth of its core, winning as many games as last year despite better Cavaliers and Bulls teams at the top of the East.
I like 43 or 44 wins for this team; I'm still not sold on Dwayne Casey as a coach, and think that this team stayed stagnant this offseason while the top of the East improved dramatically.
No. 10: Washington Wizards
Model Prediction: 43-39 (No. 4 Seed in East)
The model pegged Trevor Ariza as a 13-win player last year, and although The Truth is a grizzled veteran, will only offer eight wins. Coupled with Bradley Beal's injury and the age of this team aside from John Wall and Beal, the model thinks the Wiz will regress from last year.
Vegas Over/Under: 49.5-32.5
Vegas is in on the Wizards, thinking that last season was only the beginning. Vegas also seems to think that Pierce is a bona fide upgrade at the 3 over Ariza.
I agree with the model that the Wizards will miss Ariza and will top out at 45 wins, possibly looking at a .500 season. I think this team is a lock for the under.
No. 9: New York Knicks
Model PredicTion: 46-36 (No. 3 Seed in East)
The first result that truly made me gawk at the model. The model is huge on Jose Calderon (10 wins), presumably due to his role as a creator on some great offenses over the past few years. Quincy Acy (seven wins) and Samuel Dalembert (five wins) are also great additions and will offer some defense on an otherwise all-offense team.
Vegas Over/Under: 41-41
Vegas likes where this Knicks team is headed too, evidently. This surprised me - I thought public perception held that the Knicks were a low-30s team.
Again, I gawked when I saw this, but I've started talking myself into the Knicks returning to their 2012 glory days. I think the team could sniff a .500 record and get a low playoff seed.
No. 8: Dallas Mavericks
Model Prediction: 48-34 (No. 6 Seed In West)
The model thinks the Mavs lost its trade with the Knicks, as Tyson Chandler (10 wins) is less valuable than the combination of Jose Calderon (10 wins) and Sam Dalembert (six wins). Furthermore, the loss of Shawn Marion (seven wins) really hurts this team's defense. However, Chandler Parsons (eight wins) will help mitigate these losses.
Vegas Over/Under: 50-32
Vegas thinks the Mavs should be slightly better than last year with a real rim protector, despite the aforementioned losses.
I think the Mavs will miss Marion, who offers much more defense than Parsons. I think 48 is just about right, but this team getting into the low 50s is not out of the question.
No. 7: Golden State Warriors
Model Prediction: 48-34 (No. 5 Seed in West)
While the Dubs should be happy with the addition of Shaun Livingston (four wins), losses of role players Jermaine O'Neal and Steve Blake (two wins each) may come back to bite with the Dubs' lackluster bench. The model also isn't convinced Stephen Curry (12 wins) will be able to play 75 games this season due to past injury issues.
Vegas Over/Under: 51.5-30.5
Vegas is all-in on Steve Kerr and Curry taking these Warriors to the next level and possibly becoming contenders.
I could see growing pains under Steve Kerr and slippage in last year's great defense, but I think 48 wins is the low end for this Warriors team. The high end? 56 wins.
These teams are the most interesting I think, given that these are the teams right on the cusp of playoff spots. So, without further ado, here are the teams that will break your heart when they miss the playoffs by a game!
No. 18: Charlotte Hornets
Model Prediction: 40-42 (NO. 8 SEED IN EAST)
As I discussed with the Heat, the model really likes Josh McRoberts due to his defense and passing. Well, it also likes Chris Douglas-Roberts (three wins) and Anthony Tolliver (another three wins) as role players, who both departed this offseason as well. Born Ready will bring the Hornets 12 wins; however, according to the model, this merely offsets the departures of the three aforementioned players.
Vegas Over/Under: 44.5-37.5
Vegas thinks that the benefits of adding Lance outweigh the drawbacks of losing Tolliver, McBob and CDR; while Lance is an All-Star caliber player (and budding hip-hop star), whether he's worth the three role players is up for debate.
I do think McBob is an underrated talent, but I do think a second season under Steve Clifford and the 8th Grader coming to town will give this team a winning record.
No. 17: Denver Nuggets
Model Prediction: 40-42
Even all healthy, it looks like the Nugs will be on the outside looking into the playoffs again this season. As with conventional knowledge, the model thinks this team is exceptionally deep: 10 players will chip in at least a win next season, with Ty Lawson (nine wins) and Kenneth Faried (11 wins) leading the way.
Vegas Over/Under: 41.5-40.5
The model and Vegas more or less agree on Denver, pegging it as an approximately .500 team that might fight for the eight-seed.
A .500 record or so seems right for these Nuggets, who seem to still be feeling their way around with Brian Shaw at the helm and without a true identity yet. They've got some great pieces and potential All-Stars in Faried and Lawson, and a great addition in Arron Afflalo, but I have a hunch they'll need a season to gel.
No. 16: Atlanta Hawks
Model Prediction: 41-41 (No. 7 Seed in East)
Like the Nuggets, despite being much healthier than last season, the Hawks look to end up in a similar spot this year. The return of Al Horford (seven wins) and the addition of the defensive-minded Thabo Sefolosha (six wins) should help, but the losses of Lou Williams and the general age of the team limit those improvements.
Vegas Over/Under: 42.5-39.5
Vegas doesn't feel too optimistic about the Hawks either, it looks like; due to Horford's injury issues, maybe Vegas has built in some risk here.
41 wins does seem a bit low; however, the consensus seems to be that the rest of the East improved more than the Hawks did. For what it's worth, the Hawks were one of the teams most underestimated by Wins Produced last year, having pegged them for 36 wins instead of their 40 expected wins.
No. 15: Phoenix Suns
Model Prediction: 42-40
Poor Phoenix - despite the West getting comparatively worse (due to the East's improvement), Phoenix will still just miss out this year. A full year of Eric Bledsoe (seven wins) and the addition of Isaiah Thomas (five wins) no doubt improve the Suns; however, about a half-dozen players on the Suns had career years last season, and the model isn't sold that the Morris twins, Gerald Green, PJ Tucker and Goran Dragic can sustain last year's level of play.
Vegas Over/Under: 44-38
It seems that the general consensus with Vegas as well is that the Suns overachieved last year, possibly due to their status as the league's "nobody believes in us" team (copyright Bill Simmons); this year, they're expected to fight for a playoff seed, but may not have that same fire.
42 wins does seem a little low to me, but I do see regression coming for this year's Suns. I think Vegas's estimate of 44 wins seems like a reasonable estimate.
No. 14: Memphis Grizzlies
Model Prediction: 42-40 (No. 8 Seed in West)
While many seem to be touting the Grit n' Grinders as title sleepers, the model thinks this team is in for some regression. Mike Miller (six wins) and Ed Davis (two wins) are gone, and Memphis's dynamite frontcourt is a year older. While Sargeant Vincent Lamar Carter (five wins) coming to town and full seasons with Gasol and Courtney Lee will help, this team only was supposed to win 46 games last year, according to Pythagorean wins.
Vegas Over/Under: 49-33
Vegas is buying into Memphis's window being now and that the Grizz will continue with their remarkably consistent level of production from the past few years.
I do see a possibility for regression looming for this team, but Memphis's consistence over the past few years thanks to their strong identity gives me pause. I see this team hitting around where Vegas does, especially with the addition of VC.
No. 13: Detroit Pistons
Model Prediction: 43-39 (No. 6 Seed in East)
Our first surprise playoff team! The model is a BIG fan of Andre Drummond - like 17 wins big - which is fourth in the league I believe (after LBJ, KD and CP3). Jodie Meeks (four wins), Caron Butler (two wins) and DJ Augustin (two wins) comprise a much-improved supporting cast from last season which might make going to the Big D this season not such a cakewalk.
Vegas Over/Under: 36.5-45.5
Vegas clearly doesn't think Drummond is the fourth-best player in the league, and I can't say I fault it for that. Still, Vegas thinks this team will take baby steps toward a playoff spot in its first season under Stan Van Gundy.
Given the talent of this roster (I'm one of the last members of the Josh Smith fan club), I think 43 wins is completely doable, especially under a coach who can utilize smart rotations that get the most out of the Smith-Drummond-Greg Monroe monolithic frontcourt.
We're back with part two of my NBA predictions! I think I'll be putting up six teams a post, spanning five posts, just because it's a lot of material per post. So, without further ado, here's team number 24 as designated by the model!
No. 24: Sacramento Kings
Model Prediction: 32-50
As a Boogie aficionado and northern California resident, I really want the Kings to succeed. Unfortunately, the mystifying loss of Isaiah Thomas, who the model really liked, hurts. The model actually isn't huge on Cousins or Rudy Gay, pegging them both as approximately five-win players, but curiously rates Darren Collison as a seven-win player, presumably due to his decent effective field goal percentage. We'll see if he actually performs as a starter.
Vegas Over/Under: 30-52
Vegas agrees that the Kings should be slightly better than last year despite the loss of IT, probably due to Cousins' development (T-minus two years until his MVP year, I hope) and a full season of Gay.
Unfortunately, 32 wins seems about right. The team only seems marginally improved from last year, but this team is not going to really be in contention for a .500 season at this point, despite what their ownership thinks.
No. 23: Utah Jazz
Model Prediction: 32-50
I don't understand what the Jazz are doing. Unlike many people who are much smarter than me, I don't see a very high ceiling in any of their young players. That being said, the model does like Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors, both of whom it pegs for about seven wins this year. Dante Exum, Kobe from Down Under, is pegged at about five wins by virtue of his draft position; given how erratic his play has been in Summer League and the preseason, he'll either blow past that expectation or be replacement level, I think.
Vegas Over/Under: 26-56
Vegas likes this Jazz squad less than the model, probably betting lower on Exum's performance during his rookie season than the model.
Like Vegas, I really don't see that much upside in the Jazz, and don't see them breaking 30 wins this year. Prove me wrong, Exum.
No. 22: New Orleans Pelicans
Model Prediction: 35-47
According to the model, the Pels' real problem is its lack of bench production: the only players worth over a win are Ryan Anderson (three wins) and John Salmons (about two wins). Anthony Davis looks primed for another monster season, pegged at 13 wins, but this team hasn't been built with enough depth to contend.
Vegas Over/Under: 43-41
Vegas presumably is banking on Davis being the league's third-best player and dragging this team into the playoff discussion.
I tend to agree with the model; unless this team's starting five is one of the league's best, I can't see this team winning more games than it loses. It looks like a great fantasy team, but the depth isn't there.
No. 21: Brooklyn Nets
Model Prediction: 36-46
According to Brooklyn's Pythagorean win-loss record last season (based on its point differential), the Nets were a 38-win team. The model sees Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez, Andrei Kirilenko, the corpse of Kevin Garnett, Mason Plumlee and Jarrett Jack all as productive players, but not stars at between three and eight wins. Beyond that, however, the Nets roster is pretty bleak.
Vegas Over/Under: 41.5-40.5
Vegas must be confident that Lopez's return and Jack's addition will prop this team, another year older, up.
While the Nets gained Lionel Hollins, Jack and re-gained Lopez, they lost The Truth, Jason Kidd and Shaun Livingston, and a bunch of old players got another year older. I can't see this team contending for a playoff spot, even in the East, given how it's older and thinner than last year's 38-win-caliber team.
No. 20: Minnesota Timberwolves
Model Prediction: 39-43
Look at these frisky Wolves! Most advanced metrics are higher on Ricky Rubio than conventional wisdom is, and this model sees Rubio as almost a 10-win player. Given that Andrew Wiggins was the number one pick, the model deems him just about worth 10 wins as well, which may be way too high, given his raw talents. The fearsome duo in the middle, NikPek and Gorgui Deng, make up about 10 wins together, and the team has some competent role players in Kevin Martin, Mo Williams and Thaddeus Young.
Vegas Over/Under: 27.5-54.5
Vegas's response to the model: this team, which wasn't especially close to being a playoff team last year, lost its by-far best player.
Okay, Vegas, fair point. The model predicts Minny to win one fewer game than last season despite losing one of the 15 best players in the league. However, Minnesota may have been better than its record indicated last year. Remember that concept of Pythagorean wins? Yeah, the Wolves had 48 of those last year, stinking it up in close games more than almost any other team in NBA history last year. So, if the Wolves were a 48-win team last year, they're actually nine wins worse this year. It's possible! Still, this team seems more like a 33-35 win team to me, given Maple Jordan's rawness and the not-so-anticipated return of coach Flip Saunders.
No. 19: Miami Heat
Model Prediction: 39-43
Yeah, the Heat lost a couple players to free agency this summer, but they signed Josh McRoberts! Unfortunately, McBob and his surprisingly-high five-and-a-half wins may not be enough to propel the Heat to the Finals this year. The model likes Dwyane Wade as a ten-win player this season, but predicts he'll play as many minutes as in 2012, which is doubtful given his knee issues. The model is not a huge fan of CB4 (five wins), most likely due to the minimal rim protection he offers, but Luol Deng (six wins) can do it all and might keep the Heat in the playoff hunt.
Vegas Over/Under: 44-40
I see where Vegas is coming from: a team featuring Bosh, Wade, Deng and Eric Spoelstra (one of the top four coaches in the league, with Pop, Rick Carlisle and Doc Rivers) can't miss the playoffs in the East, right? Unless Bosh and Wade are older and still not recovered from four straight 100-game theories and a nonexplosive shooting guard who has no outside shot is useless, right?
I could see this team finishing under .500 or winning 50 games. I do think Bosh is good, I think Mario Chalmers, recently promoted from whipping boy to starting point guard, may be a top-15 point guard, and I think Spoelstra can make this team work. It really comes down to what Wade is, and if he can play at least 75 percent of his games.
Whew! First of all, I have not posted here in a while - I've been devoting most of my writing energy to RantSports for the past couple of months. However, what follows is not for RantSports, but is a model I created based off of Arturo Galletti's Wins Produced metric, which can be found at boxscoregeeks.com. Wins Produced is awesome - it's incredibly accurate, and relies only on box score stats to create its values. By weighting different statistics differently, Galletti and co. were able to find the right way to value different stats.
As Galletti's pal, Andres Alvarez, points out on their website, while Wins Produced makes predicting players' year-to-year production relatively simple, predicting their minutes played can be rather difficult. Injuries, coaching decisions and various factors strongly affect players' minutes played, making win-loss predictions rather difficult to divine. Therefore, with the creation of my model, creating a formula to predict each player's minutes played took up most of my time and effort. Essentially, I used such factors as the average number of minutes played per season during each of the past three seasons, position on a team's depth chart and whether a player started or not to estimate projected minutes. While rough, the minutes formula gave me what looks like a pretty accurate depiction of projected minutes; however, injuries and coaching decisions still will render many of the predictions completely wrong, I'm sure. Also, the model doesn't account for teams that have different attitudes toward how their minutes are divvied up; a team like the Spurs, for example, play their starters for relatively few minutes per game (around 29 each), while a team like Tom Thibodeau's Bulls will pound its starters into the ground, playing them each about 37 or 38 minutes per game.
What follows is the prediction for each team that the model spit out; the Vegas over/under (via Bovada.lv), which provides a gauge of public perception of the team and how the model differs; and my own gut feeling about how the team will do this season. So, without further ado, let's get down to some divination!
No. 30: Philadelphia 76ers
Model Prediction: 20-62
The model, like most people, has the tankalicious Sixers as the worst team in the NBA for the second year running. While general manager Sam Hinkie's efforts weren't enough to get the league to change its lottery system, they will be enough to keep the Sixers at the bottom of the standings once again. The model somewhat likes Henry Sims, Hollis Thompson and Nerlens Noel, pegging them all as above five-win players; however, after those three, this is a bleak, bleak roster. Noel's hair should be a lock for an All-Rookie team, at least.
Vegas Over/Under: 16-66
Despite the model having the Sixers as the league's worst team, Vegas has outdone it. All I have to say is: it's really hard to lose 66 games. Last year's Sixers couldn't do it. And this year's Sixers team can't be as bad as last year's...right? Maybe?
I think 20-21 will be right around where this year's Sixers will fall. I think Noel will be an NBA-quality big man right away, and MCW will be a quadruple-double threat every night (a triple-double, but with 10 turnovers to boot), but the loss of Thad Young (who deserves more than anybody else in the league to get traded to a contender) might hurt more than I think. It's hard to peg a win total on a team that can go on a 20-game losing streak at any given time.
No. 29: Boston Celtics
Model Prediction: 24-58
Boston is a difficult team to predict, given Rajon Rondo's tenuous position as trade bait and the role rookies Marcus Smart and James Young will fill. For the record, to estimate rookies' Wins Produced, I used the average Wins Produced for draft picks at that position for first-round picks, and an average of .009 Wins Produced per 48 minutes, the average for second-rounders and undrafted free agents, for the aforementioned two groups. Rondo's eight wins could leave with him if he's traded, so I wouldn't put money on this one.
Vegas Over/Under: 27-55
I think Vegas is more bullish on Brad Stevens' coaching, which the model doesn't account for, and the two rookies' production. Again, given the Rondo situation and unknown production of Smart in particular (who could be an immediate impact player, or shoot 32 percent from the field), this is not a lock to go under by any means.
I think 24 wins is a bit low for this Celtics squad, but by just two or three wins. I would be incredibly surprised if it got to 30; at this stage, it's just not a well-rounded team with multiple weaknesses.
No. 28: Los Angeles Lakers
Model Prediction: 26-56
A lot of people like to see the Lakers succeed because it's good for the league. I don't. As a tortured Warriors fan, I love to see the Lakers suffer. Put it this way: Jordan Hill will be responsible for 10 of its 26 wins. I like Jordan Hill as a player, and the model does too (and D'Antoni would take him out at the half for good after he had 12 and 8 for some reason pretty much every game last season), but this team will be leaning on Jordan Hill. Yep.
Vegas Over/Under: 30.5-51.5
Linsanity Volume Three and/or a Kobe comeback not withstanding, this team is a lock to go under. Byron Scott does not mesh with this roster whatsoever (all D, no threes philosophy - the opposite of the entire team). Call me a cynic not betting on Lin or Kobe, and it may be my desire to watch the Lakers flounder, but I think this team will be sitting the basement of the West all season.
26 seems like an accurate number to me. They could even go under, but I think anywhere between 24 and 28 is this team's destiny.
No. 27: Orlando Magic
Model Prediction: 29-53
Another team that's hard to predict given its two rookie starters, the Magic's three leading players by Wins Produced look to be Nikola Vucevic, Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon. Both rookies might be athletic sensations on the court, or could be zeros on offense that drag this team down. Only time will tell!
Vegas Over/Under: 27.5-54.5
Given this team's variance, 27.5 seems like a reasonable over/under. With this team, the difference between 29 and 27.5 wins is too close to make a wager on.
29 seems a little high for this team given how Jacque Vaughn has yet to prove he's a decent coach. The model is high on Gordon simply by virtue of his being the third overall pick, but he may very well end up being a three-year project (even though I think he'll be awesome one day).
No. 26: Indiana Pacers
Model Prediction: 32-50
Poor Indy. It's still got a couple of eight-win studs in David West and George Hill, but the stopgaps at the wing positions following Born Ready's move to Charlotte and PG's gruesome injury aren't going to cut it, according to the model. I found it interesting that the model seemed to really like most rim protectors (Tyson Chandler, Andre Drummond and DeAndre Jordan all were rated really highly), but Roy Hibbert was rated as a three-win player.
Vegas Over/Under: 33-49
The model and Vegas reached similar outcomes for this team. While the team may seem to have a real dearth of talent, I believe Frank Vogel is a great coach and the team will grind their way to at least 30 wins through defensive effort.
32 seems right to me due to the reasons I just mentioned regarding Vogel; however, the rumblings about Indy tanking to get a high pick (1997 San Antonio-style) have already began. If Indy decides to go for broke, trade West and pair a talented rookie next to PG next year, all bets are off.
No. 25: Milwaukee Bucks
Model Prediction: 32-50
Jason Kidd? Jabari? The return of Larry Sanders? Giannis, who grew 236 feet and six inches this offseason? Sign the model up! The model likes these Bucks evidently, in part because Jabari being the second overall pick places him as a seven-win player even as a rookie. The model also likes the addition of Jared Dudley, almost a four-win player - not bad for someone who's probably going to come off the bench.
Vegas Over/Under: 24.5-57.5
Vegas is much lower on the Bucks, obviously because of last season's stinker. This team got better in every aspect this offseason, but Vegas believes that those changers were worth far fewer than the 17 wins the model dictates.
I like the Bucks as a 30-plus win team! I think Kidd is a huge upgrade despite his power trip, I think Jabari is NBA-ready (Paul Pierce 2.0, but with exactly the opposite temperament) and can put up 18 points a game, I think Sanders is at the very least a top-12 rim protector, and Ersan Ilyasova, Khris Middleton, John Henson, Giannis and Dudley are all competent role players. While they might not be ready for the playoffs this season, it's quite clear that a 7-foot-4 Giannis at the point is going to lead them their in 2015. Go Bucks!