The start of the 2021-22 NBA season is just around the corner and there is a ton of excitement surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers after an offseason full of changes.
The Lakers’ big move, of course, was their acquisition of Russell Westbrook, forming a new Big 3 alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
L.A. then added a number of veteran role players that are hungry to win their first or another championship, making the Lakers the odds on favorite to represent the Western Conference in the Finals.
Before we get to the playoffs though, the Lakers still need to go through a full 82-game regular season and our staff put together a roundtable predicting how many regular-season wins L.A. will finish with as well as what seed that will earn them in the West:
Daniel Starkand (@DStarkand):
Record Prediction: 60-22
Regular-season win totals are never easy to predict considering there are a number of factors that could drastically change things for a team such as injuries. But I’m going to say the Lakers win 60 games this year and finish first in the West.
To me, the addition of Russell Westbrook is something that will help out a lot in the regular season. It remains to be seen if it will work in the playoffs, but there’s no denying how hard Westbrook plays on a nightly basis and that will be big for a veteran team.
I also think the Lakers’ depth will be big in the regular season as all 13 of their players are capable of giving quality minutes if needed, making injuries and load management less of an issue.
Trevor Lane (@Trevor_Lane):
Record Prediction: 55-27
I have the Lakers at 55 wins, which may be a bit optimistic if we do see them utilize load management consistently throughout the season. I’m impressed by the roster that Rob Pelinka and the front office have assembled with limited resources and think their talent is enough to carry them on most nights, however, I don’t think they finish first in the West. I think Utah, Phoenix, or another young team will really push for the first seed while the Lakers will instead focus on health and finish in the second seed.
Ron Gutterman (@rongutterman24):
Record Prediction: 53-29
I think the Lakers will win somewhere between 53-57 games this season. However, I’m sticking to the lower end of that range to account for significant load management. This team is talented and should win plenty of games, but they probably won’t play together enough to get to that 60-win territory. They’ll still be very good, and should finish with a top-4 seed in the West.
Matthew Peralta (@_MatthewPeralta):
Record Prediction: 55-27
The Lakers enter the 2021-22 season as heavy favorites to come out of the Western Conference. Given the star power of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, I believe the Lakers have the requisite talent to get all the way to the NBA Finals. As far as the regular season goes, however, I expect head coach Frank Vogel to tinker with lineups and rest veterans throughout the year which means we could see some off nights from the team.
With that in mind, I think the Lakers win 55 games and finish second in the standings. The Utah Jazz are going to be motivated yet again to prove they belong in the elite tier of teams in the conference and have the benefit of continuity heading into the season. As far as the Lakers go, it feels like they couldn’t care less where they finish as long as they make it to the playoffs healthy.
Skyler Trepel (@skylertrepel):
Record Prediction: 61-21
The Lakers will win a grand total of 61 games, finishing first in the West. LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook meeting in the off-season will go down as a legendary moment in NBA history. The friendship they share allowed them to discuss how they will all work together and the sacrifices that will need to be made on their ultimate goal of winning a championship. Westbrook is finally back home in Los Angeles. He and LeBron can work together with each other as off-ball options. Westbrook was dropping 40 points as an off-ball option to James Harden on the Houston Rockets with multiple win-streaks playing some of the best basketball of his career before the pandemic stopped the league dead in its tracks. You can expect his skill set to be utilized in the same fashion on the Lakers to create chemistry between these ball-dominant superstars.
Not only that, but Westbrook historically makes bigs better as he and Davis are primed to form the most dangerous pick-and-roll in the league. Davis also looks to have a revenge season after an injury-plagued season last year to remind people of the unicorn-like skill set that helped lead the Lakers to a championship in 2020.
Last but not least, when a top 10 scorer of all time, 10-time All-star and three-time Olympic gold medalist named Carmelo Anthony is your best role player, you’re primed for success. The Lakers have a star-studded cast of role players along with some solid shooting. The addition of Westbrook will keep the Lakers from losing those midseason games they lost last year because he goes hard every night. For these reasons and more, the Lakers are well on their way to a 61-win season atop the Western Conference capped off by the 2022 NBA championship.