LeBron and Lakers Shaping up to Contend in the West

There’s a bold new era coming to the NBA. An age where the most dominant player in the NBA is where the toughest competition is: the Western Conference. And now the conference has been shaken up even more. Kawhi is gone, DeRozan is in. And the Rockets just unloaded.

It’s a funny thing. The top betting sites knew that LeBron James was going to go to the Lakers long before we did, so it’s worth checking their reviews. Months ago, when LeBron James was still with the Cavaliers, and nobody knew whether he’d stay in Cleveland or head off to greener pastures, suddenly the odds for the Los Angeles Lakers to win the title jumped from the bottom half of the league all the way up to No. 5 on the betting odds boards.

Despite all of the rumors and speculation on where LBJ would land, those who were watching the odds knew exactly where LeBron James was headed. After years of mediocrity for the Purple and Yellow, there was suddenly a new found hope in LA.

Offseason Moves in West Help The Lakers Case

That hope is growing, and the odds on the Lakers to win it all are getting shorter. Now at just +1000, the Lakers sit firmly at No. 4 on the boards behind the Warriors, Celtics, and Rockets. The Probability of San Antonio winning it all has plummeted with the Kawhi Leonard & Danny Green trades. In return, the Spurs got Demar DeRozan and Jacob Poeltl, and they got to hang on to their first-round pick in 2019.

The Rockets are in flux as well, and hopefully for their fans, unloading Ryan Anderson, and De’Anthony Melton for Marquese Chriss and Brandon Knight doesn’t cause them to blow up during launch. Houston was a thing of beauty last season, and they might have won it all had CP3 not gone down with an injury.

Magic Johnson and the Lakers organization are not done moving pieces yet. They just waved Luol Deng to clear cap space for 2019. Getting rid of Deng clears up around 37 Million for the Lakers to try to add even more fire-power. Deng had two seasons left on his 4-year, 72 million dollar contract but has only played in 56 games over the last two seasons. The available money has huge implications for the Lakers next summer. They’ll be able to chase down a top free agent. And right now they have an open roster spot to play with.

Elsewhere out west, the Blazers had an epic run in 2018, heading into the playoffs as the No.3 seed. But they fell apart and got ousted by the Pelicans in the first-round sweep. After a relatively quiet offseason, will they maintain their 3rd in the West position or will the Lakers pass the Blazers in 2018-19 standings?

All of the fluctuations in the west could help the Lakers this upcoming season. They have the strongest corps of young talent in the NBA, and now that youth and inexperience are tempered by the veteran leadership of Lebron James, Rajon Rondo, and Lance Stephenson. The Lakers probably won’t be able to edge out the likes of the Rockets and Golden State. But they are poised to step into the playoffs with a decent seed once more. This is a far cry better than the No.14 finish they had in 2017 and No. 11 finish last season.

Advertisement