Before the 2020/21 NBA season got underway, we polled Hoops Rumors readers on the win totals for each of the league’s 30 teams, using over/unders from major betting sites. From the Bucks (51.5 wins) to the Knicks, Pistons, and Thunder (22.5 wins apiece), our readers made their picks for whether each team’s win total would land over or under the projected figures.
This is the fourth year we’ve run these polls, and in each of the first three years, our voters have finished a little under .500, including 14-16 in each of the last two seasons. Did that change in 2020/21? Let’s check in on the results and find out…
- Boston Celtics (Over 45.5 wins): ❌ (36-36)
- Brooklyn Nets (Over 45.5 wins): ✅ (48-24)
- Philadelphia 76ers (Over 44.5 wins): ✅ (49-23)
- Toronto Raptors (Over 42.5 wins): ❌ (27-45)
- New York Knicks (Under 22.5 wins): ❌ (41-31)
- Milwaukee Bucks (Over 51.5 wins): ❌ (46-26)
- Indiana Pacers (Over 39.5 wins): ❌ (34-38)
- Chicago Bulls (Under 29.5 wins): ❌ (31-41)
- Cleveland Cavaliers (Under 23.5 wins): ✅ (22-50)
- Detroit Pistons (Over 22.5 wins): ❌ (20-52)
- Miami Heat (Over 44.5 wins): ❌ (40-32)
- Atlanta Hawks (Over 36.5 wins): ✅ (41-31)
- Washington Wizards (Under 34.5 wins): ✅ (34-38)
- Orlando Magic (Under 31.5 wins): ✅ (21-51)
- Charlotte Hornets (Over 26.5 wins): ✅ (33-39)
Eastern Conference record: 7-8
Projecting under 22.5 wins for the Knicks was one of the big misses in the Atlantic, as no team exceeded its projected win total this season by more than New York — to be fair, not many experts saw that coming either.
The Central was full of near-misses, with the Bucks, Pacers, and Pistons falling a little short of expectations, while the Bulls slightly exceeded theirs.
A strong 4-1 showing in the Southeast, however, helped make up for a 3-7 record in the East’s other two divisions. The Hawks and Hornets went comfortably over, while the Magic went far under and the Wizards dug too deep a hole to clear their over by season’s end. If the Heat hadn’t been hit so hard early in the season by injuries and the health and safety protocols, we could’ve had a clean sweep in the Southeast.
- Denver Nuggets (Over 44.5 wins): ✅ (47-25)
- Utah Jazz (Over 42.5 wins): ✅ (52-30)
- Portland Trail Blazers (Over 41.5 wins): ✅ (42-30)
- Minnesota Timberwolves (Under 29.5 wins): ✅ (23-49)
- Oklahoma City Thunder (Under 22.5 wins): ✅ (22-50)
- Los Angeles Lakers (Over 48.5 wins): ❌ (42-30)
- Los Angeles Clippers (Under 47.5 wins): ✅ (47-25)
- Phoenix Suns (Over 40.5 wins): ✅ (51-21)
- Golden State Warriors (Over 38.5 wins): ✅ (39-33)
- Sacramento Kings (Under 29.5 wins): ❌ (31-41)
- Dallas Mavericks (Over 43.5 wins): ❌ (42-30)
- New Orleans Pelicans (Over 36.5 wins): ❌ (31-41)
- Houston Rockets (Under 35.5 wins): ✅ (17-55)
- Memphis Grizzlies (Over 32.5 wins): ✅ (38-34)
- San Antonio Spurs (Under 30.5 wins): ❌ (33-39)
Western Conference record: 10-5
That’s more like it! The Northwest was the rare division where the perceived “good” teams all went over their projected win totals, while the “bad” teams went under. That worked out perfectly for us, resulting in our voters’ first ever 5-for-5 division. The 42nd win for the Trail Blazers and 50th loss for the Thunder were especially big.
We also benefited from a little luck with the Clippers‘ and Warriors‘ year-end records, and predicting the Suns would go over was a great call — Phoenix was the Western team that exceeded its projected win total by the greatest margin.
Our enthusiasm for the Mavericks and Pelicans in the Southwest didn’t play off, but our bearish outlook for the Rockets did. Houston was the only team not to even get halfway to its projected win total this season.
Overall record: 17-13
For the first time in four years, you would’ve come out a little ahead if you’d taken our voters’ picks to Vegas. That’s all the more impressive given the unusual circumstances of the 72-game 2020/21 season.
Looking back at the preseason projections, along with your predictions, which team surprised or disappointed you the most? Jump into the comment section below to share your thoughts!
Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.