Vegas Predictions for the NBA 2016/17 Season

It should come as no surprise the Golden State Warriors are favored to win the 2016/17 NBA Championship after acquiring Kevin Durant from the Oklahoma City Thunder.  It is however surprising to see the championship odds probabilities for the top 3 teams in the NBA (Warriors, Cavaliers, and Spurs).  Overreaction by the public has caused Vegas to give the following championship probabilities for the top 3 teams  [from 9/13/2016]:

Warriors (62%), Cavaliers (24%), Spurs (8%)

Note: Implied probabilities were generated from american odds using the following tool.  Adding up the probabilities do not add up to 100% because the odds are for a specific team.  Although percentages might be off this analysis helps establish tiers.

Looking at NBA championship odds over the past seven seasons we can see that the Warriors championship odds for this upcoming season are significantly higher than the odds given to the super teams of the past (Miami Big Three, the Spurs, or the Lakers super team).

                                                                                       Data Source: http://www.vegasinsider.com/nba/odds/futures/

The Value of Durant:

After losing to the Warriors in a seven game series with the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals last year Kevin Durant announced on July 4th he was going to join the Warriors.  Tracking championship odds leading up to July 4th and after July 4th we can capture the value Kevin Durant has in Vegas.  The move made the Thunder go from annual title contender to a team hoping just to make the playoffs.  The move devalued the odds of the Cavaliers and Spurs who most consider the 2nd and 3rd best teams in the league.  The move also took the Warriors from a tier that included the Cavs and Spurs to a new higher tier.

Conference Winner Odds:

According to the current odds from Vegas (9/23/2016), the Warriors and Cavs should be able to breeze through their respective conferences without too much trouble.  They both have a 75% chance of winning their conference.  If this does happen the NBA for the first time in its history will have the same finals matchup three years in a row.

Regular Season Wins Odds:

In order to understand the regular season expectations for every NBA team by Vegas for this upcoming NBA season I overlayed the 2016/17 regular season wins predictions with actual 2015/16 wins.

Insights:  Although the Warriors, Spurs, Thunder, and Toronto had some of their best regular season records in their respective franchises, Vegas does not seen them matching the same number of wins this year.

Use the actual wins from last season and the predicted wins for next season we can see which teams Vegas is buying stock in and which teams they are selling.  The section below highlights the teams with big win differentials between the two years.

Which teams is Vegas buying: Vegas is optimistic on the young teams of the NBA such as the 76ers, Timberwolves, and Lakers.  It is interesting to see that Vegas thinks the 76ers will nearly triple their win total from last year.

Which teams is Vegas selling: Selling Spurs stock seems odd considering that Duncan had limited impact to the Spurs season last year.  Miami took the biggest loss in number of projected wins due to losing Bosh, Wade, and Deng in the off season.

Here is the raw data used in the analysis:

Data Sources:

[1] http://www.vegasinsider.com/nba/odds/futures/

[2] http://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/vegas-releases-2016-17-nba-season-overunder-win-totals-for-every-team/

Data Tool: Tableau

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