NBA win totals best bets: Raptors undervalued without Leonard
Andrew D. Bernstein / National Basketball Association / Getty

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It's been just over four months since the Toronto Raptors captured their first NBA title, but it feels like it happened ages ago. A bonkers free-agency period and the extended drama in the weeks leading up to Tuesday's tipoff have made for an exhausting offseason.

Still, you've got time to find value in the NBA win totals market, and we're here to help. Here are the odds a week before the start of the year, with five of our best bets on the board:

Atlanta Hawks 33.5 (-115)
Boston Celtics 49.5 (-115)
Brooklyn Nets 44.5 (-120)
Charlotte Hornets 23.5 (-115)
Chicago Bulls 32.5 (-120)
Cleveland Cavaliers 23.5 (-120)
Dallas Mavericks 40.5 (-120)
Denver Nuggets 53.5 (-115)
Detroit Pistons 37.5 (-120)
Golden State Warriors 48.5 (-120)
Houston Rockets 53.5 (-120)
Indiana Pacers 47.5 (-110)
Los Angeles Clippers 53.5 (-120)
Los Angeles Lakers 50.5 (-125)
Memphis Grizzlies 26.5 (-115)
Miami Heat 43.5 (-120)
Milwaukee Bucks 57.5 (-115)
Minnesota Timberwolves 35.5 (-110)
New Orleans Pelicans 39.5 (-125)
New York Knicks 26.5 (-125)
Oklahoma City Thunder 31.5 (-120)
Orlando Magic 41.5 (-115)
Philadelphia 76ers 54.5 (-115)
Phoenix Suns 28.5 (-120)
Portland Trail Blazers 46.5 (-125)
Sacramento Kings 38.5 (-110)
San Antonio Spurs 46.5 (-110)
Toronto Raptors 46.5 (-120)
Utah Jazz 53.5 (-125)
Washington Wizards 26.5 (-110)

Los Angeles Clippers under 53.5

When fully healthy, the Clippers profile as the best team in the NBA. That caveat, though, is the reason for hesitation. Kawhi Leonard sat out 22 games last regular season after missing nearly all of 2017-18, and Paul George is expected to miss at least the first 10 games of this campaign.

Los Angeles plays seven teams from last year's playoff field during that initial stretch, which also includes a matchup with the Lakers. If the team starts slow, reaching 54 wins will be a tough ask; the Warriors (57) and Nuggets (54) were the only teams in the Western Conference to reach that number last year.

The West is maybe as loaded as it's ever been, and having two injury-prone stars could mean the Clippers are forced to toss more than a handful of games into the hands of the second unit. They're deep, but perhaps not deep enough to be a top-two seed.

Toronto Raptors over 46.5

From Leonard's new team to his old one. Oddsmakers might be overestimating the star's regular-season impact. He was the pilot during Toronto's remarkable playoff run, but was he worth 12 wins before then?

Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry, and Serge Ibaka all took turns guiding the Raps to those 58 victories, and all figure to assume larger roles in 2019-20. Offseason signees Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson are perfect fits stylistically on the wing for a rangy Raptors defense, and the team also has defensive anchor Marc Gasol for the entire season after adding him late last year.

Leonard missed 22 contests a year ago, in which Toronto went 17-5 with an average margin of victory of 11.8 points. Winning 47 games would have been good enough for the sixth seed in the East in each of the last two years, and this Raptors team is certainly capable of claiming that spot in a top-heavy conference.

Portland Trail Blazers over 46.5

The Trail Blazers have won at least 49 games in four of six seasons since Damian Lillard's sophomore campaign in 2013. They've claimed the third seed in the West in back-to-back years and reached the conference finals a season ago. Yet they enter 2019-20 tied for the conference's seventh-highest win total.

Portland's bench underwent a dramatic makeover in the offseason, and center Hassan Whiteside is better than any player who the Blazers let walk. He'll pair with a recovering Jusuf Nurkic to form perhaps the best frontcourt under Terry Stotts for his flowing pick-and-roll offense, and the backcourt combo of Lillard and CJ McCollum is arguably the most potent in the West with Klay Thompson sidelined for Golden State.

The conference is stronger than it has been in years prior, but the Blazers' stars are better than they've been at any point this decade. Project Portland for at least 47 wins this year.

Boston Celtics over 49.5

On the surface, this looks to be a classic trap number. The Celtics won 49 games last year with a seemingly more talented roster, so why would they win more than that number this year? Well, basketball isn't played on paper, and this year's iteration is designed more efficiently than last year's.

Remember when the Celtics were priced for 60-plus wins because of their loaded roster? It's largely the same roster, but Kyrie Irving has been swapped with a more effective off-ball scorer in Kemba Walker, who can replace 90% of Irving's production while allowing emerging stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to make things happen with the ball. Al Horford's absence will be missed tremendously in the playoffs, but his regular-season production shouldn't factor too heavily here.

Don't forget, either, about the expected improvements from Tatum, Brown, and Gordon Hayward, who's now another year removed from his gruesome injury. This may not look like a better roster on 2K, but it's a better team. Expect the record to reflect that.

Indiana Pacers under 47.5

Over bettors may think they're buying value here on a team that won 48 games with Victor Oladipo sidelined for more than half of the season. Those same bettors may want to check Oladipo's timeline: the Indiana guard isn't expected to return until December or January, which could mean missing anywhere from 30-to-50 contests this year, too.

The Pacers were a pedestrian 23-23 without Oladipo in the regular season, and they said goodbye to shot-creators Bojan Bogdanovic, Darren Collison, and Tyreke Evans in the offseason. Maybe the combination of Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb, and T.J. Warren can fill the void, but this feels like a team lacking cohesion for at least the first few months.

This team won exactly 48 games in each of the last two years, and this squad feels worse than either of those ones. Even if Oladipo returns quickly, he likely won't be the same player for a while. Fade the optimism and hit the under on Indiana.

C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.

NBA win totals best bets: Raptors undervalued without Leonard
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