The Lakers are projected to make the Western Conference playoffs next season according to Caesars Sportsbook. The oddsmakers have Los Angeles opening at 51.5 wins, which the franchise hasn’t done since the 2010-11 season.
The Lakers finished 37-45 in LeBron James’ disastrous first season at Staples Center. However, with the addition of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins in the frontcourt, as well as Danny Green as a 3-point specialist, confidence is growing that Los Angeles will break a six-year postseason drought.
According to ESPN, a flood of bets have rushed into Caesars for the Lakers to win the NBA Championship for 2019-20. While the favorites now to win the conferences in the regular season are the Milwaukee Bucks and the Clippers, the Lakers have the highest title odds.
At Caesars Sportsbook, nearly six times as much money has been bet on the Lakers to win the 2019-20 NBA title than has been wagered on any other team. The Lakers, at +300, are the championship favorites at Caesars, yet six teams opened with higher season-win totals, including the Clippers, who are the favorites at multiple other sportsbooks.
The Lakers are projected to finish fifth in the West behind the Clippers, Nuggets, Rockets and Jazz. Last year’s conference champs, the Golden State Warriors, are pegged at just 47 victories.
“I think the Clippers should be the favorite,” Caesars’ oddsmaker Alan Berg told ESPN, “but sometimes you have a better number on teams on the basis of liability, which is the case with the Lakers.
“Two of the tougher numbers to make were the Clippers and Lakers,” Berg added. “How are they going to attack the regular season? Will Kawhi play anywhere near 82 games? Will LeBron or [Anthony] Davis? Load management is likely to play into the regular season for these two squads.”
Lakers & Clippers Title Odds Boosted by Offseason Additions
The news of the offseason was the superstar shuffling, particularly in Los Angeles. With Paul George and Kawhi Leonard joining the Clippers, and the infusion of talent for the Lakers, OddsShark points to those two teams battling for the Finals.
No question that the Lakers and Clippers have been two of the biggest winners of a completely wild NBA offseason and they are the two title favorites on the updated NBA championship odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com with the Clippers at +300 and the Lakers at +400. With the breakup/injury issues of the Golden State Warriors, the road to the Western Conference title clearly goes through the Staples Center.
One dissenting voice among analysts is Zach Cram of The Ringer. He mostly points to the Lakers bench not being up to snuff, using analytics to show its shortcomings.
Cram sees little on the bench outside of Kyle Kuzma, with the team producing a a Wins Above Replacement of just six.
The (analytical) system doesn’t love Kuzma, the only young Laker of note after L.A.’s trade for Anthony Davis and subsequent trade to clear cap space. The Lakers do love Kuzma—they refused to include him in the Davis deal—but in two seasons thus far, he’s profiled as an inefficient scorer and poor defender. At least for now, that combination pushes him closer to a back-end rotation player than future core contributor.
With James and Cousins facing injury issues the last few seasons, this could be a crippling problem for this roster for 2019-20. It could be one that prevents a title appearance.