Site Manager’s Note - Welcome to the inaugural Grizzly Bear Blues NBA Preview Over/Under Challenge! Think you are smarter than twelve of our staff members? Take the challenge by posting your over/unders in the comments section every day with the corresponding teams. We will keep track over the course of the season, and the commenter(s) who beats our overall over/under projections at the end of the season will win a Fan Essentials box!
The GBB Staff taking part in this challenge are-
Joe Mullinax - Site Manager
Matt Hrdlicka - Senior Features Writer
Kevin Yeung - Senior Features Writer
Chase Lucas - Features Writer
Mac Trammell - Features Writer
Brandon Conner - Features Writer
Jonathan Concool - Game Coverage Writer
Colin Huguley - Game Coverage Write
Austin Reynolds - Game Coverage Writer
Corban Ford - Game Coverage Writer
Jonah Jordan - GBB Boots on the Ground Editor
Adam Rubrum- GBB Boots on the Ground Editor
Today, Jonathan will take a closer look at the Milwaukee Bucks and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Milwaukee Bucks: Vegas Projection - 39.5 Wins
Overall GBB Staff Predictions -
- Three take the over (Concool, Trammell, Rubrum), nine take the under (Mullinax, Lucas, Hrdlicka, Reynolds, Ford, Conner, Jordan, Huguley, Yeung)
- Average projected record: 38-44
Players to Watch:
Giannis Antetokounmpo -
With the “Greek Freak” set to take over point guard duties for the Bucks this season, Giannis is definitely a player to keep your eye out for. The Bucks will turn to their 6’-11 prodigy out of Greece to run the team as we saw him do so at times last season for Milwaukee. At just 21-years-old though, Giannis still has plenty of room to grow, but the Bucks did throw him a four year, $100 million dollar contract extension this summer so I’d expect Antetokounmpo’s play this season to back up that contract.
Thon Maker -
Finally. After a couple years of controversy regarding Maker’s eligibility to play in the NBA we will finally get to see the 7’-1 player out of Sudan in NBA regular season action.
Michael Beasley -
Yes it’s 2016 and we are still talking about Michael Beasley. The Bucks made a late off-season move to acquire Beasley from the Rockets after they got the injury news on Khris Middleton. It will be interesting to see what kind of role Beasley steps into for Milwaukee as the Bucks need to make up for Middleton’s scoring one way or another.
Jonathan’s Prediction: Over. Coming off a season where the Bucks won just 33 games, Milwaukee put together a pretty nice off-season and looks poised to make some noise in the Eastern Conference next year. The Bucks were able to bring in some key veteran leadership and championship experience with the additions of Jason Terry and Matthew Dellavedova this summer as they looked to build around their young core.
Milwaukee also surprised many in the draft this year, as they took highly sought after Thon Maker out of high school with the 10th overall pick as many had him going in the late first round. Add in the likes of Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greg Monroe, and Michael Carter-Williams and the Bucks look like they might be onto something.
With another year of experience under the belts of this young Milwaukee team and another year of coaching experience for Jason Kidd, I’m going to take over on the Vegas projection of 39.5 wins. I think the Bucks can seriously contend for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference this season and to do so they would most certainly need to win more than the projected 39.5 games. Although they did lose their leading scorer last year in Khris Middleton as he ruptured his hamstring over the summer and is expected to miss at least six months, I expect Giannis to take his game to the next level (as he just signed a $100 million dollar extension) and help carry this team to the playoffs and past 39.5 wins.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Vegas Projection - 45.5 Wins
Overall GBB Staff Predictions -
- ZERO TAKE THE OVER. Twelve take the under (Mullinax, Lucas, Hrdlicka, Reynolds, Ford, Concool, Conner, Jordan, Trammell, Huguley, Rubrum, Yeung)
- Average projected record: 42-40
Players to Watch:
Russell Westbrook -
Westbrook will be a player everyone throughout the league will have their eyes on, as people want to see how Russ responds to life without KD. (Hint: it might be with a lot of triple-doubles).
Victor Oladipo -
I’m a big Oladipo fan and I really think he can be one of the better guards in the league in the near future. With that being said, Victor will be entering his fourth year in the NBA so I expect to see a much more complete Oladipo than we have seen in the past. Also now being alongside Westbrook, the Thunder may be home now to the fastest back-court in the NBA which also will be very fun to watch.
Steven Adams -
With Serge Ibaka now in Orlando, Steven Adams will definitely be someone to keep your eye out for. Adams will look to fill the defensive void Ibaka left but also look for Adams to be a big part of what the Thunder do on offense now without KD.
Jonathan’s Prediction: Under. Okay this one was hard. As much as I love the duo of Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo (makes me smile just typing it), I don’t think the Thunder will win more than 45.5 games, therefore I’m taking the under.
Whenever you lose a guy like Kevin Durant, there is going to be an adjustment period no matter what (even if you have a guy like Westbrook still). I think it will take some time for Westbrook and the Thunder to adjust to life without Durant and although they did bring in some backcourt help for Russ in Oladipo, I don’t think that’ll be enough to salvage for the loss of KD. Not to mention they also lost their long time defensive anchor in Serge Ibaka this past off-season, which should give Steven Adams the nod to step into that position, but again it’s going to take time for these players to get use to their new roles.
Just because I’m taking the under on the Thunder though doesn’t mean I don’t think they’ll get into the postseason. Anytime you have a guy who can impact the game like Russell Westbrook you’ve got a chance to contend for the postseason. I think the Thunder will get into the playoffs this year but not at 45.5 wins. In a much more competitive Western Conference, I don’t think 45.5 wins is a realistic number as I expect more teams to hover around the 40 win mark as the gap between good and bad teams closes.