Since we collectively hate the Los Angeles Lakers, allow me to explain why they may stink
The Los Angeles Lakers spent a good chunk of the summer as Vegas favorites to win the NBA championship. After their arena roommates, Los Angeles Clippers, stole Kawhi Leonard, and the Milwaukee Bucks made some solid moves to solidify their rotation, the Lakers now find themselves in the third post at 6/1 odds according to Vegas Insider.
Often times big market teams get the Vegas bump because the books are expecting a lot of action on the popular teams, but are the Lakers really the third best team in the NBA?
Don’t get me wrong, LeBron James is one of the best players to ever play who is still no worse than the third player in the NBA today. They of course added Anthony Davis, who not too long ago was in the top-three-player-in-the-world conversation.
Star power typically carries teams to NBA championships, so I can’t knock the approach. Those two are likely to perform at their expected levels, but there could be other underlying issues with this squad.
As a lifelong Boston Celtics fan, I’m a lifelong Lakers hater. You may say I’m biased. And I say, so what? Truth is, the Lakers haven’t been on the Celtics radar for the past few years. Six years to be exact, which is the Lakers current playoff drought. They will always be public enemy number one when both teams have a chance to meet in the Finals, but that hasn’t happened lately. Anyway, the Lakeshow are likely to break their playoff hiatus when the 2020 playoffs get underway.
Why am I giving the Lakers any ounce of my energy? Well, that is because I want to knock down the Lakers fans a couple pegs. Maybe this says more about me than it does about them, but it makes me feel better about myself. Sue me.
The Lakers have arguably the best one-two punch in the league and they have filled their roster with really good quality rotational players. So what’s the problem you ask?
In theory, the Lakers roster is loaded. But it is too loaded. We saw a little bit of this with the Celtics last year. You can’t can have too many good players. Yes, I said can. Last year, Brad Stevens was tasked with managing a lot of different personalities that all expected significant playing time. Frank Vogel is going to have to deal with this times a million if the Lakers start off slow, just as the C’s did last year.
LeBron James’ teams have a history of starting slow when he’s part of a newly constructed team. If the Lakers come out of the gate and go 10-9 and have dropped games that they are expected to win, don’t be surprised to see some turmoil out in LA. If that is coupled with the Clippers hot start, forget about it. The media will have a field day and Vogel won’t make it to New Year’s. I’m sure Jason Kidd won’t mind.
Their roster construction has some question marks. The names and skill sets look to make sense. It is no secret that you want to surround LeBron with shooters. But according to FiveThirtyEight this team is bringing back just 44% of the non-LeBron minutes, which is the second lowest of his career. With little continuity, potential internal issues with their personalities, too many guys for not enough minutes, and a loaded Western Conference, I don’t see the LA Western Conference Finals that the media is salivating about.
The Lakers are a veteran team, and a lot of veteran teams can get over slow starts and cope with individual players receiving minimized playing time. But that, of course, depends on the type of veterans you have. Are you telling me that Rajon Rondo is going to be okay with a reduced role if they aren’t winning? What about DeMarcus Cousins? Or what will Kyle Kuzma’s reaction be if he isn’t playing his expected minutes? Kuz doesn’t seem as volatile as the former two, but he is also an up-and-coming player that has yet to get his pay day.
Every NBA team has 240 minutes to fill for a full game. That equates to five players on the court multiplied by 48 minutes. Below is the expected top-10 rotation players for the Lakers in 2019 and how their minutes could play out against their career averages, ultimately affecting the team chemistry, and derailing their season.
Now don't get me wrong, I understand that between load management and nagging injuries these guys could average a few more minutes per game over the course of the season. I'm just estimating how they will divvy up their minutes in an important regular season game. But almost everyone is going to be playing less minutes than they are accustomed to. Not only are minutes an issue, but playing with guys like LeBron and Davis are also going to mean less shots for everyone else.
What happens when LBJ and AD require 40+ minutes in the playoffs and they tighten up their rotation to 8 or 9 players. Who's riding the pine in that situation? All I'd like to point out is that things could get contentious in La-La Land before their ultimate demise.
Aside from their strong personalities and too much depth, there are a lot of really good teams out west again. It's a war zone to get through the Western Conference bracket to the Finals. There could realistically be six teams that end up with a better regular season record next year. In no particular order - Nuggets, Clippers, Rockets, Jazz, Trailblazers and Warriors.
If the Lakers don't gel as quickly as they hope, they could be on the road for the first round in the playoffs. That makes the road even tougher to get to their ultimate goal, of course. So, if you have any extra money and you're looking to place an NBA futures bet, all I want to point out is that you aren't getting good value on the 6/1 odds for the Lakers. I'm just a Lakers hater, though, but don't let me tell you 'I told you so!'