NBA Win Total Odds & Pick: The Los Angeles Lakers Have Too Many Unknowns

NBA Win Total Odds & Pick: The Los Angeles Lakers Have Too Many Unknowns article feature image

Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Check out this post for updated season win total odds for all 30 NBA teams.

Los Angeles Lakers Win Total Odds

2023-23 Win Total
Previous Season's Wins

The Case for the Over

  • LeBron James + Anthony Davis = Success
  • An Improved Roster … Slowly But Surely

When LeBron James and Anthony Davis play for the Lakers, their straight-up record is 91-38 (70.5%) overall and 75-33 (69.4%) in the regular season. That includes last season’s disastrous campaign where the duo went 11-11 in games together.

Despite all the roster problems, despite all the drama, despite all the Hollywood obligations and COVID and everything else, when James and Davis play together, they’re 91-38.

To some degree, James and Davis as a combination is pretty foolproof. Yes, it dropped to 11-10 last year with Westbrook. But if this roster is better than last year’s, and it’s at least possible it is, then they can improve on that and get over this win total.

Davis had a rough go of it last season. The injuries obvious took their toll, but early on in the season, Davis was legitimately bad by his own standards. I shared clips of him routinely getting beat on the edge in containment coverage. He was slow to get back. His instincts and timing were off. He just wasn’t the All-Universe defender he’s been at times over the last four years.

If Davis returns to that form, and if his jumper just gets a slight boost from the extra lift of being healthy, this team is good enough to cruise over a low figure for a LeBron James led team.

Let’s talk about the roster. Deep Breath.

They did upgrade the roster. Patrick Beverley is a good rotational guard. Dennis Schröder, for all his warts, is a fine backup. Damian Jones and Thomas Bryant are not only average-to-above-average starting-caliber centers, but they fit the mold of the bigs LeBron has historically had success with (Tristan Thompson, Joel Anthony), but with a little more maneuverability and touch.

Austin Reeves acquitted himself well last year, which, given how bad the team was, is saying something. Kendrick Nunn looked great in preseason, and if he’s what they thought they were getting, he could be the third-best player on the team.

Juan-Toscano Anderson is pesky, Lonnie Walker IV has shake.

If last season's was strategy was to just load up on well known NBA players past their prime and hoping things fit together, this season's roster has a lot of unknowns that allow the Lakers to cycle through combos until they find answers. That’s at least potentially a better solution to their problems.

Now to Westbrook. Whew, OK.

Look, I don’t have an angle here. I can’t find the silver lining. I tried. The numbers with Westbrook and James were better than the lineups with all three early in the season, but as the year went on, that faded, even in games where Davis played. The lineups with Russ and the other two, either separate or together, were all worse than the ones without Russ.

Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: LeBron James #6 and Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers.

There’s no way to look at last season and have optimism.

So instead, we’ll go with the unknown. Beyond the trade possibility, which could net them real upgrades that would make this total rocket up, Darvin Ham has been adamant from Day 1 about trying to make this work with Westbrook. He’s praised him constantly in the media, he’s talked about how important he is, and he’s put in the work to try and get the best out of the situation.

It may not work, but it’s at least a different voice with a different approach, and any improvement to just “not bad” is probably enough.

And if it doesn’t work? Westbrook is probably sent home while they work on a trade (and finally give up the two unprotected firsts they’ve been holding out on surrendering), and the problem resolves itself.

My point is that the odds are low that the situation sustains itself another full season if the results are bad. Last season, the team elected to grin and bear it. This season? Either they figure out how to make this work, or at the very least, the component that drags those lineups down (Westbrook) is removed from the equation via trade or benching.

Ham has the confidence of NBA league insiders far and wide based on his long track record. He’s a former player who has put in the work as an assistant across multiple spots.

He connects, and while ultimately any coach of James only matters so much, getting buy-in will help with the effort, and that helps with the margins, which is all the Lakers need with their top-end talent vs. a low number.

Teams that had between 30 and 40 wins in a season with a win total the following year between 40 and 50 (a key number) in the last 10 years are 12-8 to the over (60%). To make that make sense if you’re bad but not awful, and the market expects you to be good, but not great, you tend to go over.

The Case for the Under

  • Can James and Davis Stay on the Floor?
  • Russell Westbrook
  • The Rest of the Roster

Here’s what LeBron James said about his goal for the season at Media Day:

“I’m going to focus my game on just being available. That’s the most important. Obviously, some injuries you can’t control, but that’s my whole mindset. For me as the leader of this time, one of the leaders of this team, availability is the most important thing in this league, the ability to stay on the floor … that’s always been my mindset."

He mentioned several times that that’s always been his goal, so maybe this isn’t new. But it sure sounds new.

James has missed significant time in the last four seasons. He’s played in 73% of all possible Lakers games, which sounds like a really solid number. But it adds up to 84 games across four seasons, a quarter of the total possible games.

He’s not getting younger. He said in 2021 after his ankle injury that he didn't think he would “ever get back to 100% in my career.” That’s a super worrying quote. He has to miss games at this point just to be able to play the full season.

Davis is his own deal. I don’t need to give you the numbers. He’s missed time constantly, and even when he doesn’t miss a full game, he often gets injured mid-game, leaves, and then returns.

It’s not Davis’ fault. It’s not anything he can really control. It’s just the reality of his body, but there’s absolutely no reason for you to bet on those two guys, who they absolutely positively must have, to stay healthy.

This roster can be better than last year, and still absolutely not equipped for either of those guys to miss significant time. This roster is still only "not bad” if they have both of the stars.

As for Westbrook, the Lakers’ record when Westbrook plays is 31-47. That includes games where LeBron was out, and Davis played (6-12) and when Davis was out, and James played (14-20).

With Davis, Westbrook, and James, the Lakers went just 11-10. That’s a 42-win pace … below the win total.

So if you don’t think the roster is any better, if you just think it’s comparable to last year, and you don’t think Westbrook gets removed from the equation or they find an upgrade, then even if James and Davis play all 82 you would expect for them to go under.

Let’s say you think the roster is better. If you factor in any time out for James and Davis, your margin for error is gone.

What proof do we have that the Lakers will resolve the Westbrook situation in a way that results in roster upgrades? What if they just have to send him home and wait out the year?

LeBron has talked about owning a team in Vegas, about playing with Bronny, about his legacy. This is not a man who feels like he’s got a lot left to give in the current context.

You can like the guys on this roster and still not think that it’s a +0.0 in point differential crew on its own. Reeves is promising but would probably be a bench player on most teams. Same for Nunn.

Beverley is best used as a defensive pest with some shooting chops either in specific matchups as a starter or off the bench. Bryant was the odd man out in Washington, and his defense isn’t great.

Nunn can pop, but for this number, you need Nunn, and Reeves, and Walker, and one more player to contribute, and even then you’re probably within margin. Ask yourself if you think it’s more likely this team wins 50 games or 30 games.

Lakers Win Total Bet

I’m going to pass. It’s a reluctant pass with a lean toward the under. There just seem to be way more ways this thing goes sideways and falls apart than prospers. I can’t, under any conditions, recommend an over, despite that being my default position when I saw “LeBron James with a win total under 45."

But it’s just not 2013 anymore. Or 2018. Or even 2020. It’s 2022, and every year takes a little bit more from the greatest player of his generation. There are nights when LeBron has looked human. He has nights where he’s still the Greatest of This Time, where he’s the most dominant player on the planet. But those nights are becoming fewer, the stretches more sporadic, and the games missed keep coming up.

You can’t outrun Father Time, and he’s at the very least got James within throwing distance in the race.

Davis is tough to count on. Westbrook does not seem resolved to change or adapt beyond his new 3-point shooting motion. It’s a first-year head coach with an unproven supporting cast.

It’s a low number, and I still lean under. (For what it's worth, Bet365 has the highest total at 46.5 with heavy juice on the under.)

But out of respect for James and what he’s capable of, with the potential of trading Westbrook for Mike Conley and pieces which would instantly make this an over or for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield, which would do the same, I’m going to keep my money to myself.

The Lakers are desperately trying to throw a Hail Mary with the end of what they thought would be a dynasty, and the arm on that quarterback looks awfully frail. But I have too much respect for James and what I think is an improved roster year over year to invest against their chances.

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