NBA Odds: Lakers Favorites To Win 2020 NBA Championship
The Los Angeles Lakers remain the favorites to win the 2020 NBA championship when the season resumes at the end of July. Presently, the team is listed as +260 to win the title and +165 to emerge from the Western Conference.
None of this should come as a surprise.
Heading into this season, the Lakers were widely recognized as a force to be reckoned with following the acquisition of Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans. The pairing of him and LeBron James was billed as one that would produce massively positive results – and that is precisely what ended up happening.
When the NBA season was postponed, the Lakers sat atop the West with a 49-14 mark. That put them at a 5.5-outing advantage over the Los Angeles Clippers and a 7-outing advantage over the Denver Nuggets.
The only squad with a better mark than LA is the Milwaukee Bucks, who have benefited from playing in the significantly weaker Eastern Conference.
When the Lakers return to action, they will be without Avery Bradley, who has opted to sit out the resumption of play for safety reasons.
That will hurt a bit.
Bradley was a key member of three of the five best net ratings lineups for the Lakers. His absence will mean that the team will rely more on Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
This week, the Lakers also picked up J.R. Smith – James’ old running mate from his Cleveland Cavaliers days.
It will be interesting to see what Smith still has in the tank, and if it will be enough to compensate for what the team is losing out on with Bradley sitting out.
A lot of the Lakers’ success will ultimately come down to James. This COVID-19 layoff was probably extremely beneficial for him, as it allowed him to rest. Prior to the suspension of the season he was playing at an MVP level.
Whereas Davis fills a lot of the stat cards up, James’ impact is more wins and losses-basd. He is a key member of each of the Lakers’ five best net rating line-ups. So long as he is on the court and healthy, the Lakers have a shot at winning. If something happens to him, the Lakers will turn into last year’s Pelicans.
Matchups in the postseason will also be crucial for the Lakers. This is a team that likes to play fast. They currently rank second in the league in fast-break points per outing and second in most points in the paint.
When the Lakers’ offense slows down, they become a much weaker group. If they run into a team like the Clippers who can make them work on every possession, they could have some issues.
Fortunately, even in a scenario like that, the Lakers have other strengths to fall back on. The team ranks sixth in rebounding percentage thanks to Davis, JaVale McGree and Dwight Howard, and can play solid post-up ball in spurts.
The likely path to the Finals for the Lakers will feature a first round showdown against someone like the Memphis Grizzlies or Pelicans. From there it will be a second-round showdown against the Nuggets or Houston Rockets. And if the Lakers can prevail there, a showdown with the Clippers for the conference title inevitably awaits.
Will the Lakers be able to get past the Clippers? Time will tell. But if they do, there will be no stopping them from capturing a championship this year.