On the surface, optimistic Warriors fans will look at Sportsbook’s 2012-2013 over-unders and see a surefire opportunity for some easy cash. 36.5 wins (-115) seems a near worst case scenario for this team when looking up and down the roster, after all, noting the several solid offensive options Golden State has on each level of the floor and the new presence of a defensive anchor this organization has lacked for what seems like forever.
But that’s not how the NBA works and games aren’t won on paper – especially when you’re an organization with the woebegone history of this one. Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut have already endured setbacks in their recoveries from ankle injuries, with the latter primed to miss at least the first couple games of the season. Vegas takes ancillary factors like injuries into account when compiling these numbers, though, so maybe Bogut’s early absence shouldn’t sway you. Just as important, they factor in player improvement.
So in deciding how much of your future to mortgage on the Warriors mark of 36.5 win and which side of the line to take, those factors must to be considered. As does how Sportsbook‘s 2011-2012 preseason numbers looked once last season ended. Taking New Orleans and the Los Angeles Clippers out of the equation (that Chris Paul trade kind of mucked things up there), 14 teams were comfortably over Vegas’ preseason lines, 10 were under, and four were within a game of the early predictions. Vegas was a bit pessimistic in 2012 and we can only hope that continues this season with Golden State.
Finally, how to bet? Following are fair and unbiased cases made for each side. But like any respectable, all-for-one Warriors fan, we suggest you take the over. Not necessarily because it’s more likely and you’ll be in the chips come season’s end, but because Golden State needs all the help and optimism they can get this season.
Reasons for “Over”
- The Warriors have a great recipe for regular season success – a potentially elite offense and an improved defense. Bogut’s presence matters more than anything else here; he’s one of the five best big man defenders in the game and has the skill on the other end to help GS better last season’s 11th ranked offensive efficiency. Teams like Denver and Phoenix have recently shown us that combination spells good things for winning during the regular season grind; postseason success is another story, but that doesn’t matter here.
- Klay Thompson will have a big, big year, and who knows this better than Warriors fans? Vegas is factoring in player improvement, but not the dramatic jump we know we’ll see from Thompson this season.
- Depth. The Warriors found a solid backup to Curry this offseason in Jarrett Jack, and he’s been the team’s best player this preseason. Harrison Barnes and Richard Jefferson offer help to Thompson and Brandon Rush on the wings, and Festus Ezeli – at the very least – should be better than Andris Biedrins in Bogut’s stead. Carl Landry and Draymond Green could have a major offensive impact off the bench, too.
- Schedule intricacies. The season’s early slate is manageable even without Bogut in the lineup, aided by two games against Minnesota in which Kevin Love won’t play. Then there’s the stretch from December 3 to December 21. Golden State will ring in the Christmas season by playing eight teams that look lottery-bound in an 11 game stretch. They’re on the road for the majority here, but the only seemingly un-winnable game on the list is in Miami on December 12th. Other than that it’s easy to imagine the Warriors hitting a stride here and gaining steam as the New Year approaches.
- Injuries. Injuries. Injuries. If Curry or especially Bogut miss significant chunks of the season, the Warriors will underwhelm. That’s the case of every team in the league, but it doesn’t seem as likely for them as it does Golden State.
- Growing pains. There are a lot of moving parts to this team, with six of the Warriors’ top 10 players new to the organization. Rome wasn’t built overnight, and GS lacks the transcendant stars of past turnaround squads like the 2008 Celtics or 2011 Heat. Only time will tell here, but it wouldn’t shock to see Bogut and the rest struggle getting acclimated to life as a Warrior.
- The murderer’s row of games from December 22nd to January 25th. My god. This stretch has to be as tough as any other in the league, with Golden State playing 13 of those 15 games against likely playoff teams, including tilts against the Lakers, Heat, Spurs, and Thunder, and three matchups with the Clippers. They’re at Oracle for nine of these games, but the point remains; this is brutal. To get through January afloat, Golden State must play winning basketball in the stretch directly before this one mentioned above.
Follow Jack Winter on Twitter @ArmstrongWinter.