Which NBA Teams Have Underachieved This Season?

Before the start of the season, sportsbooks posted NBA win totals for all 30 teams and, to nobody’s surprise, oddsmakers were particularly bullish about the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. As we approach the trade deadline, those leans were proven to be accurate with the Cavs (38-14) holding a three-game lead in the Eastern Conference and the Warriors (48-4) leading the Western Conference by 3.5 games.

With just 30 games remaining in the season, oddsmakers have finally accepted the possibility that the Warriors may overtake the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (72-10) for the most regular season wins in league history. Based on the current odds at 5Dimes (and accounting for the juice) Golden State has a 63.96% implied probability of winning at least 73 games this season.

It will be interesting to see whether Golden State attempts to rest their players down the stretch, or whether they devote themselves to putting their names in the record books. Since the San Antonio Spurs (45-8) are on their heels for the top seed, Golden State will likely concentrate on securing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs before resting any players.

While the Warriors and Spurs have managed to surpass their lofty preseason forecasts, the Cavaliers have merely met expectations. Following NBA All-Star Weekend, 5Dimes posted updated NBA Win Totals for every team in the league. Though Cleveland has a firm grasp on the top seed in the Eastern Conference, oddsmakers have set their over/under at 58.5 wins — just one game higher than their preseason total. In contrast, the Warriors and Spurs updated win total is 12 and 10 games higher, respectively.

Golden State’s updated win total shows that they have shattered even the most optimistic projections, but there’s one team that has been even more surprising — the Portland Trail Blazers. After losing four of their five starters (including LaMarcus Aldridge), oddsmakers set the Blazers win total at 25.5. For some context, they have already gone over that total with 27 wins at the All-Star break. Their updated win total (40) is 14.5 games higher than their preseason total, giving them the largest difference in the league.

The table below compares the preseason win total with the current win total at 5Dimes.

TEAM CURRENT (2/17) PRESEASON (10/7) Difference
Houston Rockets 39.5 55.5 -16
New Orleans Pelicans 33.5 47.5 -14
Phoenix Suns 23.5 36.5 -13
Los Angeles Lakers 18.5 29.5 -11
Milwaukee Bucks 34.5 44.5 -10
Washington Wizards 37.5 46.5 -9
Chicago Bulls 42 50.5 -8.5
Brooklyn Nets 22.5 28.5 -6
Memphis Grizzlies 45.5 50.5 -5
Philadelphia 76ers 16.5 20.5 -4
Atlanta Hawks 45.5 49.5 -4
Los Angeles Clippers 53.5 57.5 -4
Miami Heat 44 46.5 -2.5
Utah Jazz 41.5 42.5 -1
Minnesota T-Wolves 27 26.5 0.5
Oklahoma City Thunder 57.5 56.5 1
Cleveland Cavaliers 58.5 57.5 1
Sacramento Kings 34.5 32.5 2
Orlando Magic 36.5 34.5 2
Indiana Pacers 44 41.5 2.5
Dallas Mavericks 42 36.5 5.5
Boston Celtics 48.5 42.5 6
New York Knicks 35.5 29.5 6
Detroit Pistons 42.5 35.5 7
Toronto Raptors 54 46.5 7.5
Denver Nuggets 34.5 26.5 8
San Antonio Spurs 66.5 56.5 10
Charlotte Hornets 43 31.5 11.5
Golden State Warriors 72.5 60.5 12
Portland Trail Blazers 40 25.5 14.5

Portland has been the league’s best Cinderella story, and Damian Lillard’s team currently boasts the seventh best record in the Western Conference. That places them a half-game above the league’s biggest disappointment — the Houston Rockets (27-28).

When win totals were posted before the start of the season, Houston’s over/under of 55.5 was the sixth-highest in the league. Their updated win total is just 39.5 — a difference of 16 games. Other major disappointments include New Orleans (-14), Phoenix (-13), Los Angeles Lakers (-11) and Milwaukee (-10).

Based on these updated win totals, we’re able to look ahead and project the playoff picture for both conferences. These numbers could obviously fluctuate based on player movement at the trade deadline, but here’s oddsmakers current playoff projections.

Eastern Conference

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers (58.5)
  2. Toronto Raptors (54)
  3. Boston Celtics (48.5)
  4. Atlanta Hawks (45.5)
  5. Indiana Pacers (44)
  6. Miami Heat (44 U-140)
  7. Charlotte Hornets (43)
  8. Detroit Pistons (42.5)

Western Conference

  1. Golden State Warriors (72.5)
  2. San Antonio Spurs (66.5)
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder (57.5)
  4. Los Angeles Clippers (53.5)
  5. Memphis Grizzlies (45.5)
  6. Dallas Mavericks (42)
  7. Utah Jazz (41.5)
  8. Portland Trail Blazers (40)

It’s interesting to see that oddsmakers don’t believe that Portland’s win total is higher than Houston’s even though the Rockets (-150) have better odds of making the playoffs than the Blazers (-140).

Bettors may be curious to see that Utah’s win total is 1.5-games higher than Portland’s even though they are both sitting on .500 records at the time of publication. It’s particularly intriguing because both teams have fairly easy strength of schedule. Perhaps oddsmakers believe that Portland is more likely to be a “seller” at the NBA trade deadline.

For what it’s worth, bettors can also view playoff probabilities by visiting basketball reference. Based on these projections there may be value on the Warriors under and Clippers under.

Make sure to track the latest odds and public betting trends on our free NBA odds page. Interested in following our winning picks? Sign up for a 4-day trial of our Pro subscription for just $49!

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David Solar is the Content Manager at Sports Insights and can be reached directly at David@SportsInsights.com.

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David Solar

David Solar has been the Content Manager at Sports Insights for over four years. He specializes in sports betting analytics and has created several popular data-driven betting systems. He can be reached directly at david@sportsinsights.com or on twitter at @TheDavidSolar.

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