2018 Los Angeles Lakers Predictions with Futures Odds and Expert Picks
This is not going to be the most positive preview of the Lakers you will read. If you want rainbows and unicorns then you will have to go somewhere else. I obviously respect LeBron James immensely. He's the best player in the league and probably the best player ever. And the consistency with which he goes to the finals is remarkable. He's a phenomenon, and we are lucky to be witnessing his career. But he's a lousy teammate, he's all but impossible to coach, and if I was a fan of a team I wouldn't want him on my team right now. And while it is quite possible he will find a big-time playmate next season and win a title in L.A., it really feels like this year could easily go off the rails.
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It starts with the leadership. What chance do you give of James accepting and respecting Luke Walton? Walton is only five years older than James, has limited head-coaching experience, and though they have now played for two of the same teams their paths never crossed. I don't have high hopes that it will work out well - at least not in the short term.
James has never been particularly patient with young players. Actually, that's a massive understatement. As he gets older and his opportunities for more titles grow fewer, he certainly isn't going to get more patient. This is a team with a lot of young guys - promising young guys who should be playing a big role now and a larger role as time passes. Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Mo Wagner - all young guys early in their careers who are or could be big players in this system. But can James be patient with them and trust them? Or will the team be forced into trades to get a roster that makes James happier now? Ball and Wagner are both big personalities as well as promising players, and that might not fly, either.
And not to pile on the negativity, but there is only one ball. Even James can't find a way around that. He needs the ball. As much as he can, and more as the game advances. Rajon Rondo is ball dominant. Ball would ideally be as well. And guys like Ingram, Kuzma and Wagner aren't going to see the ball as much as they might prefer - there just won't be enough to go around.
I could talk about defense, too. James is a world-class defender, but as he has gotten older he has lost intensity on that end of the court so he can keep it up on the other end. And guys like Rondo and Beasley aren't going to star on defense. So, who is the best defender? Ball, maybe? There are some concerns here.
2018 Los Angeles Lakers Additions and Departures
We've talked about the big one enough, wouldn't you say? As has become the norm, the team signed a bunch of older guys to surround James with - it's what makes him comfortable. Rajon Rondo has come in, with one of his biggest roles being to block the development of Ball, presumably. Also joining are Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, and Michael Beasley - all on team friendly contracts. Of those, the one that intrigues me most is Beasley, who was as good last year with the Knicks as he has been in a long while.
In the draft the team picked Moritz Wagner, the Michigan big man from Germany. I watched almost every college game he played, and I am high on him - though I would be much higher in a different situation. I'm just not sure he'll get the time he needs to make progress. In the second round they picked another German, Isaac Bonga, a small forward who played in Frankfurt last year, and Svi Mykhailiuk, the Ukrainian guard who played at Kansas.
2018 Los Angeles Lakers Futures Odds and Trends
NBA title odds ( from Bovada ) : +1000
Western Conference title odds : +650
LeBron James MVP Odds : +333 (favorite)
Lonzo Ball MVP Odds : +45000
Season win total: 48.5
The Lakers were 44-38 ATS on the season, so they were the seventh-most-profitable team on the season and one of just eight that were profitable overall. The "over" went 43-38-1, so there was money on the over as well.
2018 Los Angeles Lakers Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
Under. Comfortably under. They should be the second-best team in the Pacific division, but that means little as the Clippers are looking for an identity, and the Kings and Suns are both in rough shape. And they should be in the mix for a lower playoff spot. But depth and chemistry are concerns, and there are all sorts of ways that things could go off the rails. In the short term I'm not a believer - but then you know that by now.
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