Lakers Odds: Los Angeles Faces Long Odds to Win Pacific Division
Russell Westbrook, Lakers
(Photo by Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Lakers have gone from clear favorites to repeat as Champions to long-odd underdogs to win the NBA Pacific Division.

It doesn’t seem so long ago that Los Angeles Lakers were the defending champions of the NBA. After their winning run in 2020, however, the Lakers have been disappointing, with the 17-time champions failing to make the playoffs last season and suffering a first-round knock-out the previous season.

Ahead of the 2022 season, fans are hopeful the team can turn things around. The bookmakers are not as Lakers are not as confident and have the Lakers at long odds to win the Division, let alone the conference or NBA Championship.

The Downward Slide of the Lakers

In the 2019-20 pandemic-shortened season, Los Angeles dominated the Western Conference en route to a 52-19 record. Their .732 win percentage projected out to a 60-win season, and they went on to win 16 of 21 games in the playoffs on the way to their 17th championship.

The following season, the Lakers were hamstrung by injuries and limped to a 42-30 record in the NBA regular season. They backed their way into the playoffs by winning their play-in game against the Golden State Warriors but fell hard to the Phoenix Suns 4-2 in the first round of the playoffs.

Last season the team fell apart at the seams. Trading for Russell Westbrook did not work out as well as anyone imagined, and the Lakers slipped to a 33-49 record and failed to make the playoffs in one of their worst seasons in memory.

Strong Performance Would Defy Odds

The Pacific Division is one of the more competitive divisions in the NBA, and the Lakers will find themselves up against the defending Champion Warriors, the Phoenix Suns, who had the best record in the NBA last season, and the crosstown rival Los Angeles Clippers, who have retooled and should have a healthy Kahwi Leonard back.

Those betting on the new NBA season will find both the Warriors and Clippers as +200 favorites, slightly ahead of the Suns, who sit at +215. The Lakers check in as a +750 longshot, meaning a $100 bet on the Lakers winning the Pacific Division would return $750 (7.5-1).

Coincidentally, the total season wins for the Lakers is 45.5, which would generally put them in the middle of the pack in the conference.

How the Lakers Can Succeed This Season

The elephant in the room at the Lakers right now is Russell Westbrook.

When the Lakers traded for Westbrook, they believed he’d be the missing piece of a championship puzzle. Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka bet big that a new and formidable “big three” would emerge with Westbrook, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis. That simply failed to materialize as chemistry issues dogged the team for the duration of the season.

The offseason failed to produce any big trades for Los Angeles, who seem content with giving the core group a chance to redeem themselves this season. It remains to be seen if James and Davis find a way to get better results with Westbrook in the lineup. If they can figure that out, they may be able to put some pressure on the division. If they don’t, it could be another long and sad season for the team.

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