How the Donovan Mitchell trade impacts NBA betting odds for win totals

Donovan Mitchell scored 29 points, and the Utah Jazz handed LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers their third straight defeat, 104-101 on Saturday night (Alex Goodlett/AP)

Well, I sure hope you didn’t listen to me in July when I advised taking the Cleveland Cavaliers under 42.5 wins. In fact, I hope you faded me, because Cleveland got a whole lot better on Wednesday when they traded Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, Ochai Agbaji and a pile of picks for Donovan Mitchell.

The Cavaliers jumped up to o/u 48.5 wins, and Utah plummeted from o/u 31.5 n Tuesday to o/u 25.5 Thursday evening. The impact of the Mitchell move is the focus here, but there are three other teams that were off the books when I covered the rest of the NBA win totals a month ago, so let’s knock that out too.

Cleveland Cavaliers – o/u 48.5 wins

Key additions – Donovan Mitchell (G)

Key losses – Collin Sexton (G), Lauri Markkanan (F)

Cleveland was already a fun team, and by consolidating Markkanen and Sexton into Donovan Mitchell, they just became truly intriguing. And of course, a lot better.

It goes without saying that Mitchell is an instant upgrade on both sides of the ball over Sexton. I’ve already heard the talking heads and podcast hosts calling Cleveland a 50-win team. 48.5 feels like a very sharp line, and given the buzz and hype around this team now, I wouldn’t be surprised to see public money move this up by a win or two.

I’m feeling rather bearish on the Cavs despite the huge backcourt upgrade. Unless Mitchell can improve on his Harden-esque defensive performance last season, this puts a ton of pressure on Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley. If Mobley is ready to be that dude, there is no ceiling for this team. If he isn’t, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them win 46 games and finish 5th or 6th in a tough Eastern Conference.

I’m going to stay away for now, but I’m still leaning UNDER 48.5 wins. If it does move with the money like I’m anticipating, I’ll probably even put some money down.

Utah Jazz – o/u 25.5 wins

Key additions – Just read the Cavaliers’ notes above.

Key losses – You get it.

Do we finally know what’s going on in Utah? They’re blowing it up. And I don’t think they’re done. Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic could help a contender, and there’s no reason to keep winning players like that around if the Jazz are jumping into the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes.

As it stands right now, with a handful of savvy vets, decent role players and whatever Collin Sexton is, Utah is probably a 30-win team. So the move would be to hit the OVER 25.5 wins.

But you probably shouldn’t bet this team until we get a sense for what their actual opening day roster is.

In short, no. We kind of still don’t know what’s going on in Utah. But the picture is becoming clearer.

Los Angeles Lakers – o/u 45.5 wins

Key additions – Patrick Beverley (G), Juan Toscano-Anderson (F)

Key losses – Talen Horton-Tucker (G), Malik Monk (G)

Let’s take the Lakers at their word and assume they’re going to start the season with the newly acquired Patrick Beverley and the somehow-still-there Russell Westbook coexisting.

This isn’t a very good team.

I love Patrick Beverley, and what he brings to a team is incalculable. Just look at how much he changed the culture in Minnesota after ending up in a leadership role. But that was a squad on which PatBev was the vet. He’s joining Lebron James (not to mention Anthony Davis and Westbrook), the most imperious veteran leader in the league.

Between the Lakers’ purported “Big Three” and Beverley, this is a highly combustible concoction of egos. But we’re in luck, as bettors. The Lakers are one of the public’s favourite teams and Lebron is arguably the betting public’s favourite player. So the market is overrating them a little.

I’ve got L.A. as no better than the 9th best team in the West. And the 9-seed isn’t winning 41 games, let alone the 46 you’d need to hit the over. In keeping with the traditions of my people (Warriors fans), I’m fading the Lake Show hard. Pound the UNDER 45.5 wins.

Brooklyn Nets – o/u 51.5 wins

Key additions – Full-Time Kyrie Irving (G), T.J. Warren (F), Royce O’Neal (Wing)

Key losses – Andre Drummond (C), Bruce Brown (G/F), Goran Dragic (PG)

Brooklyn was overvalued for the entire 2021-22 season, including the playoffs. Why? That team was immensely talented.

So is this one.

Ignore chemistry for a moment. On paper, Brooklyn is looking at a crunch-time rotation of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Joe Harris, Patty Mills, Royce O’Neal and Nic Claxton. Add in possible found money if T.J. Warren can be the kind of player he was before the foot injury and the Nets look great. The pieces fit in theory, the top-end talent is there, and they won 44 games last year without getting much from Irvin and nothing from Simmons.

The optimistic view: Irving is Irving, KD is so hoops-focused the awkwardness of this summer doesn’t affect him, and Ben Simmons actually plays. The Nets probably win 50-53 games in that scenario.

But how can you ignore chemistry with the league’s pre-eminent circus? How can you be optimistic about this team? Will Ben Simmons ever play another game?

I’m here for chaos. Give me the UNDER 51.5 wins.

New York Knicks – o/u 37.5 wins

Key additions – Jalen Brunson (PG), Isaiah Hartenstein (C)

Key losses – Nerlens Noel (C), Alec Burks (G), Taj Gibson (F)

Last, and certainly least interesting, are the New York Knicks. It must be disappointing to see your team set itself to trade for Donovan Mitchell only to see him go elsewhere. What is this team? If you’re a Knicks fan, do you feel confident going into the season with a team built around Jalen Brunson, Too Late Julius Randle, Too Early R.J. Barrett and the husk of Derrick Rose?

I certainly wouldn’t. But as bad as New York was last season, Tom Thibodeau’s grinding style was enough to eke out 36 wins. And I dare say the Knicks have improved by adding Brunson.

There might be a 40 per cent chance this team is better than it was last year, maybe a 35 per cent chance they’re worse. The remainder? Well, that’s the Knicks. Do Something Stupid Coefficient. It’s the chance they do something utterly confounding to make the team worse, like moving Cam Reddish, picks and salary filler for Russell Westbrook.

So I’m going UNDER 37.5 wins, because the Knicks have spent the last decade challenging the Sacramento Kings for the league’s most mismanaged franchise.

As always, play safe and don’t chase.

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