Lakers Among Favorites to Make NBA History in 2023

Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis

Getty Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis

The Los Angeles Lakers missed the playoffs in 2021-22 despite having LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook. The team won only 33 games and fired Frank Vogel as head coach after the regular season concluded.

Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham was hired by the Lakers as Vogel’s replacement. The Michigan native has won a championship both as a player and assistant coach and BetMGM has given Ham the ninth-best odds to win his third title in 2022-23.

The Lakers are +1400 to win the 2023 championship. The Golden State Warriors, who defeated the Boston Celtics in this year’s Finals, are projected to repeat.

The Lakers and Celtics are tied for the most championships in NBA history (17). The Warriors helped the Lakers by beating the Celtics in six games in the 2022 Finals.

Hall of Famer James Worthy, who won three titles with the Lakers in the ’80s, loved seeing the Celtics lose to the Warriors. The seven-time All-Star celebrated Boston’s defeat by trolling former Celtics star Cedric Maxwell on Twitter.

Lakers Have a Lot of Work to Do to Win Another Title

The Lakers had the second-best preseason odds to win the 2022 title. However, they were so bad that they didn’t even qualify for the play-in tournament. The purple and gold are 75-33 in the regular season when James and Davis play. Due to injuries, though, the two superstars only played in 21 games together in 2021-22.

James, Davis, Talen Horton-Tucker and Austin Reaves (non-guaranteed) are the only Los Angeles players under contract for next season. Russell Westbrook has a player option worth $47.1 million and he’s expected to pick it up. So unless the Lakers trade the one-time MVP this summer, Westbrook will be back next to James and Davis in 2022-23.

In a June 2 column, Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley described three specific types of players the Lakers need around James and Davis to compete for a championship. According to Buckley, Los Angeles requires players who can play on-ball defense, stretch the floor with perimeter shooting and create their shot off the dribble.

James will turn 38 in December, so the Lakers can’t afford to waste another year of his excellence as they did in 2021-22. The King averaged 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists in his 19th season and the Lakers were still a walking disaster.

Since Davis isn’t even 30 yet, he was supposed to be the Lakers’ alpha as James got older. However, the big man has appeared in just 76 regular-season games since the Lakers won the 2020 championship over the Miami Heat. Davis played in only 40 games in 2021-22, averaging 23.2 points and 9.9 rebounds.

1 NBA Insider Thinks Lakers Should Rebuild

It’s interesting that BetMGM has given the Lakers the ninth-best odds to win the title in 2022-23 since Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report urged the Lakers to tear its roster down and enter a rebuild on June 14. The NBA insider doesn’t believe James, Davis and Westbrook can win together in the rugged Western Conference for a mixture of reasons.

“The Lakers cannot realistically expect to contend in 2022-23, and their long-term prospects will be bleak if they don’t replenish their stock of picks and young talent. Davis, in particular, could still net a hefty return in trade,” Hughes wrote. “Big picture, the NBA may now be operating in the post-superteam era; the homegrown Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors are in the Finals. Yet Los Angeles seems most likely to resist the organic-growth trend. It’ll try to win in the short term and then bank on free agency and its big-market appeal to lure talent, just like it always has.

“There’s a slim chance it’ll all work out, but the better bet is that if the Lakers continue on this course, they’ll spend most of the next decade wishing they’d pulled the ripcord when they had the chance.”

The last time the Lakers missed the playoffs, they won the championship the following season. However, James is older and has a ton of mileage on his body and Davis hasn’t proven that he can stay healthy.

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