Without a single team believed to be among the elite in the Eastern Conference, not many eyes will be on the Southeast Division this season. Of course, smart gamblers consider all their options, and the Southeast offers compelling preseason win total bets for all five teams this year.
2017-18 Record: 43-39
2018 Win Total: 45.5 (from William Hill)
The Wizards got only 41 regular-season games from John Wall in 2017-18, and still managed to reach a 43-39 record—22-19 with him, 20-21 without him. He averaged 26.0 PPG and 11.5 APG in a six-game playoff series against the Raptors, showing that he can carry the Wiz against top-flight competition. A full season from Wall would itself be enough to push Washington up to 45 or 46 wins, but the team also upgraded on the interior by trading Marcin Gortat and signing Dwight Howard. Howard is still elite on the boards, as he ranked fourth in the NBA with a 22.2% rebound rate last season. Howard (rightly) gets a bad rap for causing chemistry issues, but he probably won’t be publicly throwing shade at Wall the way that Gortat did last year.
Bet: Over 45.5
2017-18 Record: 44-38
2018 Win Total: 42.5
Miami has one of the stranger rosters in the league and, as the team’s preseason pursuit of Jimmy Butler suggested, not one that holds much promise for either the present or future. Franchise legend Dwyane Wade shot 40.9% from the floor in his 21 games for the Heat last year; the less he shoots during his farewell tour around the league, the better. Hassan Whiteside and Erik Spoelstra reportedly made nice over the summer, but that doesn’t change the issues that preclude Spoelstra from effectively incorporating the big man into his lineups. Goran Dragic still gives the Heat a much-needed scoring punch at 32 years old, but the contributions of role players like Kelly Olynyk and James Johnson would be better utilized on a contender.
Bet: Under 42.5
2017-18 Record: 36-46
2018 Win Total: 35.5
Many franchises have gone to great lengths to escape the NBA’s dreaded treadmill of mediocrity in recent years, but the Hornets are still running in place: They’ve won at least 33 games in five straight seasons without winning a playoff series. This year’s squad remains thoroughly average by the generous standards of the Eastern Conference, as Kemba Walker leads an unremarkable, oft-injured supporting cast. Rookie Miles Bridges brings some much-needed explosiveness to Charlotte, but it’s hard to see how the veteran wisdom of Tony Parker, the team’s other significant offseason addition, raises the ceiling for this team. Dwight Howard’s exit left the locker room sighing with relief, but his absence on the block will be noticed immediately.
2017-18 Record: 25-57
2018 Win Total: 31.0
The Magic have moves to make before they have a concrete future as a contender, primarily adding a point guard and shooters in the backcourt. But in the frontcourt, Orlando has an excess of one of the modern NBA’s most coveted commodities: length. The duo of Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba is as green as it gets, but their combined wingspan of nearly 15 feet can’t be taught. Alongside Aaron Gordon, they’ll cause nightmares for opposing offenses. D.J. Augustin almost certainly won’t match the head-turning efficiency he posted last season, but should continue to be a spark plug for the Magic on offense.
2017-18 Record: 24-58
2018 Win Total: 23.5
It was obvious last year that the Hawks were building a team to compete down the road, but by selecting Trae Young in this past summer’s draft, franchise brass made clear just how far down the road its vision lies. It’s anybody’s guess whether Young will ultimately pan out as a pro, but the 20-year-old could hold the Hawks back significantly as he first adjusts to the pro game. Free-shooting, turnover-prone and a terrible defender, he will be the focal point of a team already planning for another top-five pick in next year’s draft. One only hopes that Atlanta’s promising core of young forwards, including Taurean Prince and John Collins, won’t be stalled in its development.
Bet: Under 23.5