The Lakers have not yet won the 2020 NBA championship, though with a 3-1 series lead over the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, they are very close to doing so. What’s more, according to the sharps in Las Vegas, the Lakers are favored to not only get back to the Finals, but they’re favored to win the championship next year.
According to the folks at VegasInsider.com, which compiles a consensus list of odds based on the posted odds of a number of sports books, the Lakers are a 7-to-2 shot to win the championship next year. No. 2 on the list remains the Clippers (4-to-1), despite their epic flameout in the conference semifinals, losing a 3-1 lead to the Nuggets.
The Bucks, who also collapsed in the second round against Miami, are No. 3 on the list, at 13-to-2.
That the Lakers, led by a star who will be 36 years old and surrounded by a horde of fellow 30-somethings, could be favored to win next year is a remarkable statement on the durability of LeBron James. Say what you will about his legacy, when it comes time to lay down money, most people clearly think James is still a good bet.
Here’s the list of the Top 13 teams, in terms of betting odds for 2021:
|ODDS TO WIN 2020 NBA FINALS (11/12/20)|
Lakers Will Have Issues To Work Out Before 2021
Of course, there is much that remains in limbo for 2021, both in terms of the Lakers and in terms of the league in general.
For the Lakers, the biggest issue is the future of Anthony Davis, who is capable of becoming a free agent this offseason, with a player option for next season. L.A. would re-sign him at the first possible opportunity and he would almost certainly accept a max offer from the team. Still, Davis has said he will keep his options open in free agency and there is a chance he opts in for the final year of his current contract and pushes off free agency until next year.
There are a number of smaller issues to work out for the Lakers, too. They will have to make a decision on an extension for Kyle Kuzma, though it is more likely that the team will look to trade him. If the Lakers sign Kuzma, he will eat into their cap space for the 2021 offseason, when the Lakers are planning pursue major free agents like Bradley Beal and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Lakers will have a handful of playoff contributors to consider in free agency, too. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Rajon Rondo have player options, while Markieff Morris and Dwight Howard will certainly be free agents. Avery Bradley, who opted out of the NBA’s Orlando return, has a player option, too.
The NBA Also Has Issues Ahead of 2021 Season Start
Leaguewide, we still have no idea how next season will look. The NBA is clearly not ready for fans to come back to arenas, not while the novel coronavirus remains a threat. As such, the start of the season is still up in the air. The originally planned start date in November proved to be a no-go, and December is out, too.
Commissioner Adam Silver wants to have an 82-game season with fans in attendance and will be willing to wait for that. He said last month that January of 2021 would be the earliest start time, though even that looks shaky.
“My best guess is even though it’ll be the 2020-21 season, that the season won’t start until 2021,” Silver said on CNN. “We said the earliest we would start is Christmas of this year. But the more I’m learning and listening to Dr. (Anthony) Fauci, I continue to believe we’re going to be better off going into January. The goal for us next season is to play a standard season.”
And when the NBA gets back on the floor, who knows how some of the teams will look? The Lakers will likely come back to a much more difficult slate of teams next season, with the Warriors back to full health and the Nuggets returning with another year of experience. The Clippers look less imposing now after their postseason failure, but will still bring back a talented bunch.
In the East, the Nets will have Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant healthy. Miami figures to improve as well as the Celtics and Raptors.
That is a lot of question marks, both within the Lakers and without. But whatever some of the answers to those questions prove to be, at least at the outset, the Lakers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to bringing home a 2021 championship.