The Denver Nuggets had an intriguing offseason and wholeheartedly expect to fight for one of the rough and rugged Western Conference’s eight playoff births, ending their five-season drought. Like the rest of the league, Denver is likely done making deals, and with training camp and the season quickly approaching, each of the 30 teams’ over/under win totals has been released.
July’s breaking news is now in the rearview mirror, and most of the league’s significant offseason moves have been made. LeBron James is a member of the Los Angeles Lakers as well as a recent target of the U.S. president’s Twitter fingers, the recent Kawhi Leonard and Demar DeRozan traded places while the Nuggets made some noise by adding Michael Porter Jr. and Jarred Vanderbilt in the draft and the diminutive spark plug Isaiah Thomas in free agency.
Each franchise is preparing for the battle that is the 2018-19 season with the players on their current rosters. And, at least according to Jeff Sherman of the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, the Nuggets’ over/under is set at 47.5 wins or just 1.5 more than the team finished with last season. However, according to these odds, Denver will finish in sixth place in the punishing Western Conference, finally ending their lengthy playoff absence.
NBA seas wins
— Jeff Sherman (@golfodds) August 5, 2018
Per the forecast, it will once again be the Golden State Warriors setting the pace for wins this season, seeing an over/under of 62.5 wins. This is the fourth straight year the Warriors enter the regular season with the highest projected win total from the prognosticators in Vegas, coming away with the title in three of those previous seasons.
Houston is yet again favored to finish second in the Western Conference with 54.5 wins, and the Thunder stand in third with 50.5 while the Jazz and new-look Lakers sit tied with 48.5 expected wins. As noted earlier, the Nugs are situated sixth in the West, followed by the New Orleans Pelicans and Minnesota Timberwolves with 45.5 and 44.5 wins respectively.
This seeding suggests the San Antonio Spurs will — somewhat shockingly — miss the playoffs for the first time in 22 seasons while the Nuggets’ intra-division rivals and last season’s third seed in the West, the Portland Trail Blazers, are presumed to miss out on postseason fun as well.
The projections anticipate the Nuggets’ young triumvirate of Nikola Jokić, Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and the facing off against Russell Westbrook, Paul George and the rest of the Thunder in the first round of the playoffs. While the Nuggets went 3-1 against the Thunder last year, the Mile High crew earned two of those victories while OKC’s defensive stalwart Andre Roberson was out with a left knee injury — and those victories came by a combined four points.
In the East, the Celtics have the highest projected win total at 57.5, followed by Philly and Toronto (54.5 each). After that, the Eastern Conference playoff picture sees the Pacers (47.5) round out the teams with home-court advantage while the Bucks, Wizards, Heat and Pistons are all projected to make the playoffs. Detroit, however, is not projected to meet the .500 mark during the regular season (37.5).
While the regular season still won’t tip-off for another two to three months, excitement for NBA action certainly is building. And if these projections are correct, the Mile High City can prepare for its first playoff birth in half a decade.