Dan Favale | Fri 06/10/2017 - 14:10 EDT

NBA Futures: LA Lakers Odds

NBA Futures: LA Lakers Odds
LaVar Ball, the father of rookie guard Lonzo Ball, thinks the Los Angeles Lakers are going to the playoffs. Is he right? Can a young, placeholder-heavy team really register as anything more than a lottery formality? As we near opening night for the 2017-18 season, it's time to find out.

2017-18 Los Angeles Lakers Betting Odds

lonzo

  • Pacific Division: +2000
  • Western Conference: +12500
  • NBA Championship: +2500

As you can already tell, oddsmakers are not predicting the Los Angeles Lakers to be very competitive this year. They’re stocked with high-end youngsters, such as Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, and one-year stopgaps at various positions. That mixture of talent makes for a dicey projection—especially in the Western Conference. 

The Lakers’ potential is particularly difficult to predict, because there is so much noise attached to them. That comes with playing in Hollywood, one of the NBA’s three biggest markets. But the belief that Ball, as a rookie, will lead them back to the playoffs or even respectability from the get go is more than absurd.

Newbies take time to figure out the game. It doesn’t matter that Ball had one heck of a summer league. The speed of play changes exponentionally in the regular season, when you’re going up against experienced veterans, many of whom, at Ball’s position, are superstars.

To top it all off, the Lakers have a host of players angling toward their next contract. Chief among them: Julius Randle, Brook Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Not one of these players is assured a spot in their long-term plans. The Lakers, remember, are trying to dredge up two max-contract slots for LeBron James and Paul George next summer. Lopez and Caldwell-Pope know they’re probably not coming back, while Randle has to know he’ll likely become collateral damage of the quest for $70 millionish in breathing room.

kcp

Anytime this happens, let alone when the knowledge is so universal, the team in question opens itself up to mercenary production—contributors who deviate from the gameplan and collective dynamic to pursue their own stats, in search of better paydays, usually at the expense of victories.

And yet, despite all this, many people expect the Lakers to be competitive.

Entering training camp, the peeps in Vegas set their win-total over/under at 33.5. Thirty. Three. Point. Five. If you want to bet the over, you have to bank on the Lakers winning 34 games—eight more than last year. 

That’s a tall order. Yes, the Lakers are more talented on paper. But the dynamics are so darn shaky. The offense should be fast and free and fun, but will it be efficient with a rookie floor general running the show?

And what will their defense look like? They placed dead last in points allowed per 100 possessions last season, according to NBA.com, and haven’t gotten measurably better. They’ll need defensive leaps from Larry Nance Jr., Ingram and Randle, a rookie breakout from Kyle Kuzma and a born-again renaissance from the fast-aging Luol Deng to have a puncher’s chance in heck at cobbling together league-average stopping power.

Worst of all, nearly everything could go right for the Lakers, and their big-picture chances won’t get much more enticing. It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking at the NBA championship landscape or the divisional pecking order. The Lakers have no appeal.

After all, the Golden State Warriors still exist. Any team you bet on to win that isn’t them must be considered a dark horse. The Lakers don’t even come close to measuring up on the same radar as the Cleveland Cavaliers or Oklahoma City Thunder.

ingram

Speaking candidly, let’s say the Lakers are better than everyone expects.

What will that even mean?

Maybe they win more games than fellow Pacific Division participants like the Sacramento Kings and the Phoenix Suns. But we already know they’re not catching the Warriors, and hell will need to freeze over for them to have a viable shot at sniffing the Los Angeles Clippers, who have, by and large, rebounded beautifully following Chris Paul’s exit.

Hence the final verdict: The Lakers are nothing plays on the futures front. If you want to work their win-total overs and unders, go right ahead. But steer clear of division, conference and championship odds unless you hate having money in your pocket.

Results / FixturesL.A. Lakers

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