After years of rebuilding and missing the NBA playoffs, change is expected to be abound for the Los Angeles Lakers this season. Of course, that’s primarily due to their signing of LeBron James in a four-year contract in free agency.
After coming to terms with James, the Lakers filled out their roster by signing veterans Michael Beasley, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson. With a promising young core still intact and developing, the Lakers are bullish about this season.
While president of basketball operations Magic Johnson, general manager Rob Pelinka and head coach Luke Walton have each stressed the time it will take for the group to gel, it’s clear reaching the playoffs is an expectation.
Some even view the team as a contender and threat to dethrone the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors. With predictions ranging far and wide, members of the LakersNation.com staff submitted their win total predictions.
Dan Duangdao (@DanDuangdao): 47-35
LeBron James-led teams initially struggle in Year 1 and it will not be any different for the Los Angeles Lakers. With eight new players, patience will be required as the veterans learn how to play with the young core.
In an era where shooting is a premium, the Lakers are banking on tough playmakers. After training camp and preseason, James and company showed what they can eventually become in the highly competitive Western Conference.
Despite the early season struggles, I predict the Lakers will finish with a 47-35 record for the 2018-19 NBA season, which would be a 12-win improvement. Based on last season, Los Angeles should end their five-year playoff drought.
While the Lakers may not have home-court advantage, they should be trending in the right direction following the All-Star break and will be an extremely tough matchup in the first round.
With the best player in the game today never losing in the first round, the hope is the young core’s development will propel them to make a deep playoff run.
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH): 51-31
The Lakers won 35 games last year which I believed was around what they could do if everything went right, but it didn’t. The team dealt with numerous injuries, struggles to figure out the right lineups and rotations, and a midseason trade, and were still able to hit that number. It’s not difficult to imagine them being a .500 team with better health last year.
Now you add the best player in the world to that group, and LeBron James will obviously account for a big leap in wins. You also add Rajon Rondo who covers up a huge hole from last season as the Lakers had no backup point guard when Lonzo Ball was injured.
Considering all of those things, plus the development of Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo, and Josh Hart and I truly believe the Lakers will cross that 50-win mark, even in the ridiculously tough Western Conference.
Trevor Lane (@Trevor_Lane): 50-32
The Lakers are entering into the season with plenty of expectations now that LeBron James is in purple and gold. After years of rebuilding it’s finally winning time again but don’t expect everything to be seamless right out of the gate.
On the contrary, I fully expect the Lakers to hit some bumps in the road before things start to smooth out a bit as we get further into the season and figure out how to integrate the new faces. When the dust settles I think they go 50-32 and head into the playoffs as a team no one wants to face.
Daniel Starkand (@DStarkand): 50-32
In my opinion, at this point of his career, LeBron James has earned the respect that any team he is on should be projected to win around 50 games regardless of what conference he is in.
I know that this Lakers team is brand new, and I do expect them to struggle a bit in the first couple months of the season. But once they get comfortable playing with each other I think they are going to be one of the best teams in the West.
LeBron is surrounded with young talent in Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart, all of which could potentially have breakout seasons. If any of those guys can develop into a second All-Star caliber player, then the Lakers may be better sooner than people think.
The Lakers are going to play with outstanding pace with LeBron, Lonzo and Rajon Rondo running the show, so if nothing else they are going to be really fun to watch.
Ron Gutterman (@RonGutterman24): 53-29
I see great things for this Lakers team in 2018-19. While I do have some concerns regarding three-point shooting and size, I think this team has all the tools to be successful. This is the first team in NBA history to have three players on the roster who ranked top seven in assists the year before.
That type of ball movement, a lot of which we saw in the preseason, will be vital for success and will help to alleviate some of the shooting struggles. I also think this will be a huge, possibly All-Star-level year for Brandon Ingram.
If he can bring his scoring averages up to around 20-22 a night, this team will go far. While I do think it might take some time to build chemistry, this team will be nearly impossible to guard once they figure it out. A 53-29 record should be good enough for a four seed and possibly even a three seed in the West.
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