Ed Note: This is for fun. With the Magic looking to be improved, we wanted to have some fun, and let you guys jump in with the chances of winning a prize from us.
Much of the fun of the preseason revolves around predicting what’s going to happen. October is the time of year everyone writes their team previews, records their over/under podcasts, and makes those award prognostications public. Much of the conversation, naturally, focuses on how successful each team will be. How many wins? Will they make the playoffs?
We can always dive deeper, of course, and that leads us to “proposition bets.” For the uninitiated, a proposition bet (or ‘prop’ bet) asks a question about a team, player, or situation and lets the bettor place a bet on the answer they like. Often these come in the form of an over/under question such as “Will Evan Fournier score over or under 20 points on opening night?”
I’ve decided to make up a handful of my own Magic-themed prop bets for you all to take a stab at. None of these are related to any official prop bets from betting outfits online or in Vegas, just my own intuition based on projecting this year’s team and comparing against last year’s performance.
To spice things up a bit, we here at the ‘ol OPP have put together something of a contest for you. Submit your answers at this link , along with your SBNation username and an email we can contact you at, and if you get the most right when we tally things up at the end of the season, you’ll be given a prize courtesy of everyone at OPP.
EDIT: Submissions are now closed! Expect a follow-up post soon about your responses, to see where you agreed and disagreed with the crowd.
Don’t feel like entering? You’re always welcome down in the comments section if you got one or two picks you’re interested in discussing.
I’ve offered some my own analysis for each of these props, but if you want to skip past all that and get right to your own picks, I’ve listed the bets at the bottom.
How many free throws will the Magic attempt per game?
Over/under: 21.5 FTA/g
Last season, Orlando was nearly the worst team in the league when it came to drawing fouls, getting just 20.1 FTA per game (29th, just ahead of the Atlanta Hawks). That figure was actually an increase on the previous season’s total, when they took just 19.1 FTA/g. For perspective, 21.5 attempts would have placed the Magic 24th league-wide last season.
If you’re taking the over: You believe Vogel will find a way to make the team more aggressive, that Biyombo could draw some hacks around the rim, or that Orlando can’t be the worst foul-drawing team forever and should regress to the mean.
If you’re taking the under: You realize that Victor Oladipo took a measly 3.4 FTA/g...and that it was still the most on the team. You might think that without that true star player, the Magic aren’t going to get those superstar calls.
How many games will the Magic win against the Southeast Division?
Over/under: 6.5 wins
Personally, I’m not the type to care very much about division results, rivalries, or titles. If the NBA dissolved divisions tomorrow, it wouldn’t break my heart.
That said, given the high level of turmoil and change among the Southeast Division teams, I thought this was a pretty interesting question. Reminder that the Magic play a total of 16 games against other Southeast teams, and that they won just 4 of those last season (1 against Miami, 1 against Charlotte, and 2 tight ones in that February back-to-back with Atlanta).
If you’re taking the over: You see the Boshless/Wadeless Heat as a vulnerable target, and you think the Hawks will take a step back after swapping Al Horford for Dwight Howard. You could think the Magic are just better, and that winning 25 percent of their division games was fluky compared to their overall 43 percent record.
If you’re taking the under: You might think Orlando was lucky to go 2-2 with Atlanta, who was the best team in the division last season, and that Charlotte could be even better if Michael Kidd-Gilchrist stays healthy.. You might just think Orlando is a worse team than they were before.
Where will the Magic rank in team Defensive Efficiency?
Over/under: 14.5 out of 30 teams
This is pretty straightforward: measured by points allowed per 100 possessions, do you think Orlando will be above-average on defense, or below average? After an up-and-down season that saw the Magic play like a top-10 defense through December before cratering in January and February, they settled at 17th in defensive rating, per NBA.com.
If you’re taking the over: You believe the Magic surely will improve by a few spots just by adding Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo. You might think that Vogel will design a better defensive scheme than what Skiles put together.
If you’re taking the under: You’re concerned about Ibaka’s health, and you think Oladipo’s defensive contributions last season are being underrated. You shed a single tear every time you look up Evan Fournier’s DRPM (-2.53, good for 433 out of 462).
How many players from their opening night roster will Orlando trade away from the team?
Over/under: 2.5 players
Three players have been traded from the Magic since the start of last season, but only two were part of in-season moves: Tobias Harris and Channing Frye. The most obvious trade discussion revolves around Vuvevic, but I don’t think anyone on the roster is truly untouchable besides Gordon. This bet might be less about the players involved and more about the state of the front office.
If you’re taking the over: You foresee a lot of turmoil among management, and could see GM Rob Hennigan making some desperation moves to save his job. You might anticipate Orlando moving on from Vucevic, and could see a couple other smaller pieces getting shifted in the process.
If you’re taking the under: Maybe you’re feeling optimistic about the stability and success of the team this season. If Elfrid Payton in particular performs well, it may negate the need to look for a PG on the trade market.
How many offensive rebounds will the Magic secure per game?
Over/under: 11.0 OReb/g
The Magic were 18th in the league last season at 10.3/g, and 11 would be good for 10th. It’s certainly within the realm of possibility, with Ibaka and Biyombo on the team. While neither were elite in the category, they’re both solid enough, especially compared to the players they’re ostensibly replacing in the rotation from last season (Tobias Harris and Jason Smith). Gordon could corral a few more this year as well, given better health.
If you’re taking the over: You think Biyombo and Ibaka will be able to crash the glass hard, and you recognize that the Magic will have a solid offensive rebounder on the court at all times. You might also suspect Vogel will instruct the Magic to focus on offensive boards to juice their anemic scoring.
If you’re taking the under: Obviously the Magic are just going to make all their shots, and there can’t be offensive rebounds if there aren’t misses. More realistically, you might just think top-10 is too big a jump, and Vogel may just as well instruct the team to ignore offensive boards in favor of focusing on transition defense.
How many mid-game marriage proposals will the Magic host this year?
Over/under: 3.5 marriage proposals
To quote Editor Zach Oliver: “Marriage proposals at games are the greatest scourge facing the sports world today.”
Ok, maybe he didn’t say that, but the sentiment is there, because Zach hates happy people and the very concept of happiness itself.
If you’re taking the over: You love happiness and just want the best for everybody.
If you’re taking the under: You hate happiness and just want to watch the world burn.
How well will Serge Ibaka shoot from 3-point range?
Since he made 3-pointers an important part of his game in the 2012-2013 season, Ibaka has shot at least 35 percent from downtown every year...except last year. On a new, less talented team, but one more year removed from his knee surgery, it’s easy to imagine Ibaka bouncing back from his 32.6 percent mark last season, or getting even worse in his new situation.
If you’re taking the over: You see last season’s shooting as an outlier, and expect a bounce back to his career norms. You think that health was more of an issue than anything as Ibaka came back from his arthroscopic knee surgery, and that a healthy Ibaka is a capable shooter.
If you’re taking the under: You see last season’s shooting as the start of a trend, and you worry about how well he’ll perform without two superstar teammates drawing attention away from him. You’re concerned that his shooting got much worse in the last three months of the season.
How many turnovers per game will Elfrid Payton give up?
Over/under: 2.4 TO/g
Payton saw little change in his per-game turnovers from his first to second seasons, so I’m setting the line right where he ended up last year. So far his preseason passing has looked pretty sloppy, but, well, it’s preseason. Cutting down his mistakes will go a long way toward justifying his starting spot in the lineup.
If you’re taking the over: You’re not expecting much progress from Payton this season on the offensive end, or you’re worried about how he’ll jell with his new teammates.
If you’re taking the under: You’re looking forward to Payton taking a big step forward in his third year...or you think that he’s going to fail so badly he won’t even get the playing time necessary to accumulate that many turnovers.
How many minutes per game will Jeff Green play?
Over/under: 23.5 mpg
There’s a lot of tension here between how much Magic fans want him to play, versus how much he should play, versus how much he’ll actually play. In an ideal world, he plays backup minutes behind Aaron Gordon, who performs so well that there’s little argument otherwise. Reality, of course, is another question entirely. Green has never played fewer than 28 mpg in a season.
If you’re taking the over: You’re imagining that Vogel, by choice or due to a slow start by the team, will choose to lean on his most veteran players. You might think an injury to either Gordon or Ibaka would propel Green into a starting role. Maybe Jeff Green has already made you a believer after his strong preseason.
If you’re taking the under: You’re hoping that health and excellent production from the starting forwards keeps Green tied to a bench role. There’s always the glass-half-empty scenario, too: maybe Green plays so poorly that the coaching staff can’t possibly justify the playing time.
How many games will Nikola Vucevic start for the Magic?
Over/under: 60.5 games started
The greatest mystery surrounding the Magic since their offseason moves has been how they’ll manage their complicated big man rotation. Is there a point to having Vucevic, Ibaka, and Biyombo all at the same time? One easy solution, of course, is to trade away one of them, and Vucevic is the most obvious candidate, if only because he wasn’t acquired just months ago.
If you’re taking the over: You think Vucevic, as one of the best offensive centers in the NBA, is too valuable for the offensively-stunted Magic to give up. You might believe Biyombo will happily settle into a bench role that’s part of a very successful night-to-night rotation for Orlando.
If you’re taking the under: You don’t think Vucevic will be with the team past the trade deadline, and even if he is, you’re guessing Biyombo’s elite rim protection outweighs Vucevic’s considerable advantage on the offensive end. You might believe Vucevic will come to accept a Kanter-like bench role as an offense-only center who won’t be abused by other teams’ backups.
What will be the sum of Bismack Biyombo’s FG%, FT%, and TOs, expressed as decimals?
Over/under: 2.07 fieldthrowovers
2.07 is what you get adding those up for Biyombo’s 2016 season. Considering that...you know what, I’m not even gonna bother analyzing this one. Good luck.
If you’re taking the over: Sure. Why not? Seems reasonable, I guess?
If you’re taking the under: Yeah, I guess that’s fine too. Not gonna judge you one way or the other, really.
List of all prop bets
Magic FTAs per game, over/under: 21.5
Magic wins against Southeast Division opponents, over/under: 6.5
Magic’s NBA ranking in defensive efficiency, over/under: 14.5
Opening night roster players traded away, over/under: 2.5
Magic offensive rebounds per game, over/under: 11.0
Magic mid-game marriage proposals, over/under: 3.5
Serge Ibaka’s 3FG%, over/under: 34.5%
Elfrid Payton’s TOs per game, over/under: 2.4
Jeff Green’s minutes per game, over/under: 23.5
Nikola Vucevic’s games started for the Magic, over/under: 60.5
Bismack Biyombo’s combined FG%, FT%, and TOs, over/under: 2.07
One more time, the link to the submission form can be found right here. Good luck!