After two straight seasons in which the NBA was forced to truncate and shift its schedule, the league will return to its traditional 82-game regular-season schedule for the 2021-22 campaign, which was just released this week. The season is set to start on Oct. 19 and end April 10. The playoffs will run through mid-June. In preparation for the season, Caesars Sportsbook has released its projected win totals for all 30 teams.
Here’s the complete list of Caesars’ projected win totals for the upcoming season:
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Below are three of the biggest takeaways from the projections:
1. Nets projected to win the most games in the league
The Brooklyn Nets failed to live up to their lofty potential last season as they lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals. On paper, the Nets were arguably the most talented team in the entire NBA yet were plagued by injury issues. Their star trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden played less than 10 total games together during the regular season, and Harden and Irving both missed time in the series against Milwaukee. As a result, the Nets were unable to advance to the conference finals.
However, the Nets, if healthy, will have another excellent opportunity to win the first title in franchise history during the upcoming ’21-22 season, as they remain arguably the league’s most talented team. So, it’s not so surprising that Caesars is bullish on Brooklyn. The Nets are projected to win 54.5 games in the upcoming season, which is the highest projection in the Eastern Conference and across the league at large. The Nets were able to win 48 games in the shortened 72-game slate last season, so there’s no reason to believe they won’t be able to reach that 54.5 mark as long as health is on their side.
2. Lakers, Jazz projected as biggest West winners
The two teams with the highest projected win totals heading into the upcoming season are both in the Eastern Conference. The Nets are tops in that category with 54.5 victories, and the reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks are second with a projection of 53.5. When it comes to the Western Conference, the two teams projected to pile up the most W’s are the Los Angeles Lakers and the Utah Jazz. Both are projected to win 51.5 games.
Utah’s high projected win total shouldn’t come as a surprise given how well the team played during the regular season last year. Utah finished the ’20-21 season with a 52-20 record, which was the best mark in the West. The Jazz didn’t make any major roster adjustments over the offseason, so they should be right back in the conversation for the top seed in the conference during the upcoming season.
The Lakers are a bit different, as they made some big moves over the offseason after finishing just seventh in the West last season with a 42-30 record. The Lakers traded for Russell Westbrook to pair with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and they also added several other veterans, including Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Trevor Ariza and Wayne Ellington. Those additions obviously make the Lakers more formidable on paper, and it’s clear that Caesars thinks that L.A. will be a much-improved team compared to last season.
3. Thunder are at the bottom of the barrel
When it comes to Caesars’ projections for next season, the Nets are on one end of the spectrum as the team projected to win the most games, and the Oklahoma City Thunder are on the other end. The Thunder’s projected win total of 22.5 is the lowest of all 30 teams from across the league’s landscape. Only six total teams are projected to win fewer than 30 games. The other five are the Cleveland Cavaliers (25.5), Detroit Pistons (26.5), Houston Rockets (24.5), Orlando Magic (24.5) and San Antonio Spurs (29.5). The Thunder finished last last season with a 22-50 record, so win-percentage-wise, Caesars expects them to be even worse in the coming campaign.
The future appears bright for the Thunder given all of the draft capital that the team has amassed, and they were wise to lock Shai Gilgeous-Alexander up with a huge extension over the offseason as he appears to have the makings of a future star. Yet in the present, the team is still firmly in rebuild mode, and their roster as currently constructed just isn’t built for sustained success in the league. Only time will tell if they ultimately do finish with the NBA’s worst record next season, but they will likely be in the running for it, at least.
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