Blake Griffin was traded to Detroit this past winter. Getty Images
Metro highlights three NBA season win totals that look like they can be capitalized on.
Detroit Pistons Over 38.0 wins (-115)
The Pistons got to 39 wins a year ago after dealing for Blake Griffin before the trade deadline, but they were hoping for better, so GM and head coach Stan Van Gundy was shown the door.
Despite not having a first-round pick in this year’s draft, Detroit had an effective offseason. Ed Stefanski was brought in as the de facto GM (his official title is senior advisor), and reigning coach of the year Dwane Casey climbed aboard after being dismissed in Toronto. Glenn Robinson III was added as another useful utility player off the bench.
If Reggie Jackson can stay healthy and run the offense from the point (he missed 37 games last season), feeding Griffin and fellow big man Andre Drummond, the Pistons could find their way back to the playoffs. 38 wins is well within reach in the sleepy Eastern Conference that’s now sans LeBron James in Cleveland.
Denver Nuggets Under 47.5 wins (-115)
The Nuggets could be the “odd man out” in the uber-competitive Northwest division that includes the Thunder, Jazz, Trailblazers and Timberwolves.
Denver’s big pickup in the offseason was the seemingly burnt-out Isaiah Thomas, now on his fourth different team in three seasons and coming off another hip surgery. Meanwhile, heart-and-soul type Kenneth Faried, along with Wilson Chandler, have departed.
First-round draft pick Michael Porter Jr. was supposed to make an immediate impact, but instead the Missouri product underwent a second back surgery in less than a year and may not be available for the start of the season.
These setbacks should offset any potential gains from a full year from Paul Millsap and improvement from young star Nikola Jokic, who was recently signed to a max deal. The Nuggets only won 46 games last year and might take a step backward in 2018, so Under 47.5 is the right way to go.
Utah Jazz over 49.0 wins (-115)
The Jazz won 48 games a year ago and were a tiebreaker away from winning the Northwest Division, but they got their revenge by beating Oklahoma City in the playoffs, making Russell Westbrook look foolish in the process. Utah was eventually dispatched in five games by the Houston Rockets, but the Jazz had a season they could be proud of.
In a league that values wholesale changes and big splashes now more than ever, Utah has gone against the grain by favoring continuity with their young squad. Coach of the Year candidate Quin Snyder has such talented stars as Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors at his disposal, as well as intriguing rookie Grayson Allen. Assuming they improve with age, the Jazz should easily eclipse 49 wins.