Posted on June 17, 2019, by Travis Pulver
Following the conclusion of Game Six of the NBA Finals, it didn’t take long for oddsmakers to release odds for the 2019-20 season. When the initial odds came out, several sportsbooks made a surprising move. Somehow, they had pegged the Los Angeles Lakers as the team to beat next season.
At the time, the only explanation for such confidence had to be the expectation that the Lakers were going to complete a trade for Anthony Davis—which they did.
So, as could be expected, the odds shifted soon after the trade was announced:
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- Los Angeles Lakers +350
- Milwaukee Bucks +700
- Houston Rockets +900
- Los Angeles Clippers, Toronto Raptors, Golden State Warriors +1000
- Philadelphia 76ers +1200
- Boston Celtics +1400
- Brooklyn Nets +2000
- Denver Nuggets +2500
- Dallas Mavericks, Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs. Utah Jazz +3300
- Sacramento Kings, New Orleans Pelicans +5000
- Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic +6600
- Memphis Grizzlies +8000
- Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns, Washington Wizards +10000
So, since the oddsmakers seem to be confident in the new and improved Lakers, should fans and gamblers be just as confident? The answer to that is easy—absolutely not.
But are the Lakers going to be a better team next season? Of course!
When LeBron James was healthy at the start of the season last year, the Lakers looked like a good, competitive team. With a healthy LeBron and Davis in the lineup when the season starts, the Lakers are going to be tougher in 2019-2020.
But good enough to be the runaway favorite? Not even close.
Golden State is not going to be the threat they were without Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson in the lineup, but Steph Curry and Draymond Green are going to be tough to beat. Whether they trade Chris Paul or not, the Houston Rockets are going to be tough to beat, too.
Milwaukee is expected to return intact, and with a year of playoff experience under their collective belt, the Bucks are going to be even better next season.
However, as constructed, with James and Davis as the centerpieces, the Lakers are going to be one of the better teams in the NBA. They will probably win their division next season (Golden State, Sacramento, Clippers, and Phoenix), and will certainly make the playoffs.
But otherwise, expectations should be tempered.
Last year, following the acquisition of LeBron James, the championship odds on the Lakers got pretty short, pretty quick. They got as short as +580 on July 9 but climbed up to +740 by the 18th and got up to +1000 by August 8th.
Their talented young roster had made strides under Luke Walton. But not enough to justify such short odds simply because LeBron James joined the team. This point as eventually proven with how the season played out.
What if Anthony Davis and James don’t end up meshing well? That is a possibility and something that should give gamblers pause.
The Lakers are going to be a good team. But they still need to do something in order to become a potentially great team. While they are rumored to have interest in Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker, with just $23.7 million in cap space, it is unlikely the Lakers land either.