Los Angeles Lakers 2021 NBA Win Total Odds & Pick: Will the Reigning Champs Hit Cruise Control?
Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images. Pictured: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Lakers Win Total Odds
The Case for the Over
They are the defending champions with LeBron James, Anthony Davis and arguably a better supporting cast than last season. That’s the case.
The Lakers weren’t great without James on the floor last year even with Davis. The addition of Dennis Schroder and Marc Gasol as a more versatile offensive player than Dwight Howard even if he’s not as durable still presents a potential upgrade. Those players in particular provide a better surrounding structure for Davis when James sits, which he may do more of this season.
The Lakers are also settled into their identity. We’ve seen this before where a team takes a season to figure out its identity and then can find that gear consistently. The Lakers don’t have to solve for how they approach things, or how to play a certain way, they know that now.
There’s also a pride measure to this. The Lakers are expected to take off more this season. They might respond to that by pushing harder. Just a pure “F*** you” from the defending champs.
James made it clear last season he was mad about not winning MVP. Does that spur him to go hard one more time in his career to get that one last MVP award?
LA’s defense should remain elite despite losing Rajon Rondo, Danny Green, and Avery Bradley. They retained Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, added Schroder, and can promote Alex Caruso to a larger role.
There’s also the schedule component. The Lakers play West teams 42 times, and East teams 30 times. The Lakers won 64% of their games vs. the East last season. That same figure gets them to 19 wins this season, meaning they’d only have to go 27-15 in the West, winning 64% of their games. They won 78% of their games vs. the West last season.
If that doesn’t convince you, think of it this way: there are more teams expected to be below .500 in the East next season than in the West. The Lakers went 32-5 vs. teams under .500 last season (86%). There are just several paths to 47 wins for the Lakers based on the schedule.
The Case for the Under
The Lakers’ last game in the Finals was Oct. 11. They will have two months and 10 days off before the start of the season. That’s just not enough time to recover.
LeBron James will play opening night, of that I have no doubt. He’ll play the first week, of that I have no doubt. Everything after that is up in the air. He’ll say he’ll play. But if the body isn’t there, he’s just not going to push it. He knows what he’s playing for and the Lakers won’t be concerned with homecourt; they know they can go anywhere in the playoffs and win.
The bulk of the focus will be on James, but Davis has always been nicked up, a constant “game-time decision.” Less recovery time makes me nervous about his ability to stay on the floor.
The Lakers are most primed to coast of any team. They have nothing to prove, and the most to gain from rest. They play in a tough division with the Clippers, Suns, and Warriors, all likely-to-possible playoff teams.
This line isn’t crazy, it comes out to just a one- or two-game improvement over last year at an 82-game pace. But the question is whether the Lakers can half-care to a better record.
They’ll improve, but their identity is built on defense and grinding out wins; the Lakers had 25 double-digit wins last year. That was fifth-most, but also a sign that they didn’t dominate the way other teams did.
Los Angeles Lakers Win Total Bet
It’s a stay-away.
If James comes out and dominates which would push them towards the over the most, you can bet his MVP. If you like the vibe you can still get good odds on a division title, or NBA title.
The Lakers are best built to win the whole thing. But getting into this number given their short layoff and team construct just doesn’t provide that much value.
Can’t fade them, too good. Can’t back them, too many reasons to coast.