Bulls big man Lauri Markkanen

Reinhold Matay/USA Today Sports

Ostrowski: Bet The Bulls' Over On 27.5 Wins

Vegas isn't impressed with the Bulls' offseason additions.

Joe Ostrowski
August 06, 2018 - 4:17 pm
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(670 The Score) The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook released its NBA over/under wins total this week, around which the conversation may have gone like this.

Bulls: We landed Jabari Parker in free agency and drafted Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison in the first round! Don’t forget that we locked up Zach LaVine for the future! There's no more Jerian Grant, David Nwaba or Paul Zipser. 

Vegas: Eh, that’s cute. The Chicago kid comes home. Cool. You're still bad.

Westgate has pegged the Bulls' season win total at 27.5, the second-lowest in the Eastern Conference and third-lowest in the entire league, better only than the Hawks (23.5) and the Kings (25.5).

So what do we make of this? Will the Bulls go over or under 27.5 wins? Let's break it down.

The Fred Hoiberg-led Bulls have hit the over in each of their past two seasons, going 41-41 after their mark was set at 38.5 in 2016-'17 and going 27-55 when their mark was set at 21.5 last season. The Bulls hitting the over last year came in a season marked by a constant lineup shuffle, as Lauri Markkanen, Robin Lopez, and Justin Holiday were the only players to start at least 45 games. 

LaVine played 24 games in his return from a torn ACL, and he was alongside Kris Dunn and Markkanen in only half of those games, in which the Bulls went 5-7. That supposed core played only 255 minutes together last season.

Markkanen exceeded all expectations in his rookie season, and he's taken his fitness seriously this offseason by bulking up. The No. 7 overall pick in 2017, Markkanen became the fastest player to reach 100 3-pointers in NBA history and also broke the Bulls rookie record for 3-pointers. It's reasonable to expect him to continue to improve.

A vigilant approach is always best before taking your cash to the ticket writer and saying "over." It’s much easier something to take a wrong turn over a six-month period. We rarely account for the inevitable injuries or practice punchouts.

But the Bulls have added more talent to the roster for Markkanen’s second season, and this will mark LaVine's first healthy year in Chicago. Hoiberg should be well-motivated too, as it's a pivotal season with two years left on his contract. He could be looking for an extension with an overachieving 2018-'19 season. 

We also must note that this is a LeBron James-less Eastern Conference. The Bulls were 0-4 against his Cavaliers last season. His signing with the Lakers forced the two biggest moves in wins total based on last year's results. The Cavaliers won 50 games last year and now have a 30.5 line, a drop of 19.5 wins. The Lakers won 35 games and have a 48.5 line, a jump of 13.5 victories. The Grizzlies (34.5) and Mavericks (34.5) both jumped 10.5 wins, and regression is expected with the Rockets (54.5) after a league best 65-17 record last season. 

Verdict: This isn't a lean or a pass. This is a bet. Take the Bulls over 27.5 wins. This number will climb.

Joe Ostrowski co-hosts Hit & Run with Barry Rozner on Sundays at 9 a.m. and is 670 The Score's weekday morning update anchor. Here's a link to his weekly sports betting podcast. Follow Joe on Twitter @JoeO670.​