The 2021-22 NBA campaign has offered us a few shocking surprises. Sure, the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls are in a tie for the Eastern Conference lead right now. However, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Cleveland Cavaliers are currently tied for third place and are both only 2.5 games back.
In the Western Conference, we have the Phoenix Suns as the top seed at the moment. Phoenix looks hungrier than ever after letting the title slip through their fingers last summer. Also, don't sleep on the Golden State Warriors, who have a firm grip on the second-place spot at the moment.
While the playoff race is starting to shape up a bit, it’s going to be interesting to see how many wins these teams will accumulate on their way to the postseason. Before we jump into my picks for some of the top teams in the standings, here is a look at the current win totals from FanDuel Sportsbook.
Odds from FanDuel Sportsbook
|Eastern Conference||Win Total|
|New York Knicks||35.5|
|Western Conference||Win Total|
|Los Angeles Lakers||37.5|
|Golden State Warriors||56.5|
|Los Angeles Clippers||39.5|
|Portland Trail Blazers||34.5|
|New Orleans Pelicans||33.5|
|San Antonio Spurs||33.5|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||24.5|
Here is how the top teams from each conference got to this point and why we think they will (or won't) hit their current season win total:
The Warriors not only have the second-best record in the Western Conference, but they also have the best shooter in the game in Steph Curry. Additionally, they have posted seven-game winning streaks twice during the season. And on the heels of posting eight wins in their last 10 outings, they have a 42-17 record. Not too bad for a team that missed the playoffs last season. Combine that with the return of Klay Thompson, who is averaging 17.1 points per game, and barring a major collapse of some kind, the Warriors should have no problem exceeding the 47.5-win total. Simply put, bet the over on this one. Confidence Meter: 8 UPDATE: Our Over 47.5 bet on the Warriors looks like money in the bank at this point. However, at the current price of 56.5 wins, we would probably pass.
The Phoenix Suns advanced to the NBA Finals last season. While they won the first two games of the 2021 NBA Finals, they eventually fell to the Milwaukee Bucks in six games. But for those of us who thought their playoff run was a fluke, they have proven otherwise thus far this season. In fact, they went on an 18-game winning streak from Oct. 30 through Dec. 2. And they have posted wins in five of their last six outings, propelling them to a 48-10 record, good enough for the best record in the Western Conference and the NBA.
As impressive as the Suns have been this season, it has been a while since the last time they won more than 58 games. The last occurrence took place back in 2006-07. That said, I’d be careful about betting the over on this one. Confidence Meter: 5
The Brooklyn Nets came into the 2021-22 season as one of the prohibitive favorites to compete for the Larry O’Brien trophy. Last season, the trio of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving played sparingly together during the regular season. On top of that, Irving went down with an ankle injury in the second-round playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks. After trailing 0-2, the Bucks came back to take the series in seven games.
Through their first 59 games, the Nets have only posted 31 wins and they currently have the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference. For those of us who care to do the math, the Nets will need to finish 14-9 the rest of the way to reach the predicted threshold. And with Irving expected to participate in only road games once he is out of the league’s health and safety protocols, winning on a nightly basis won’t be a given for this ball club. Based on the way they’ve played so far, the Nets are certainly capable, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they fell short by a win or two. Confidence meter: 5
Regardless of what anyone says, the Chicago Bulls are the biggest surprise this season. It is no secret how poorly this team has played over the past several years. The last time they notched a postseason berth was 2016-17. And in that season, they posted just 41 victories. And that season was the only time in which they won more than 30 games.
However, thanks to their offseason acquisitions, the Bulls are a completely different team. Although they have had several games postponed and multiple players in the health and safety protocols, the Bulls have produced seven wins in their last 10 games. And thanks to drastic improvements at both ends of the floor, the Bulls own the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.
Based on their win totals over the past few seasons, the 48.5-win prediction total seems to be a bit of an overkill, to say the least. On the flip side of the coin, this Bulls squad has a different mental mindset compared to the teams we’ve seen take the court in the past. That sentiment is supported by the fact they’ve won some games they would have lost last season.
This, combined with the fact that Chicago bolsters a Big 3 – Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic, it is foreseeable that this team can maintain this level of play for the duration of the season. In other words, I’m going to recommend betting the over for this team’s early-season win prediction total. Confidence meter: 7