The Los Angeles Lakers are always one of the most-watched teams in the NBA. This year, though, the intrigue is at a major high point.
Los Angeles added LeBron James, the best player in the league, during the offseason. Considering the personal rivalry between him and Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, it will interesting to see how the fanbase accepts him.
But what will happen on the floor for the Lakers this year and in the coming years? Let’s examine some recent prop bets offered by 5Dimes Sportbook and decide which lines are best to bet on. We like the look of the following four bets:
LeBron James plays over 74.5 regular season games (+160 with 5Dimes)
James is a basketball legend for many reasons. One of his most impressive attributes, though, is his durability. He has averaged just 4.7 missed contests per season throughout his career, and many of those absences were due to rest. Since his Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers teams were frequently near the top of the Eastern Conference, he could afford some missed games here and there.
With the 2018-19 Lakers, LeBron likely won’t have the luxury of sitting many games out for resting purposes. The Western Conference is as competitive as ever and there is no guarantee that Los Angeles makes the playoffs. On paper, there are about 10 teams clearly deserving of playoff spots this year, but only eight spots.
Sure, LeBron could get injured and miss a chunk of time. But he rarely struggles with major problems with his body, even as he has progressed to the age of 33. He is a very solid bet to play in at least 75 contests this year.
Lonzo Ball starts first game of regular season (-275 with 5Dimes)
As the line for this bet indicates, Ball is definitely the favorite to win the starting job at point guard. His main competition, Rajon Rondo, is 32 years old and is nowhere near the player he was five or six years ago when he was All-Star caliber with the Boston Celtics. Why would he start for the young Lakers, especially considering he is just coming over to the team on a one-year contract?
Ball is more than just the U.S. sportsbooks’ favorite. He is so obvious of a favorite that you really need to bet on these odds. As the No. 2 pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, Ball is a huge part of the Lakers’ long-term plans. He played a whopping 34.2 minutes per game last year as a rookie, despite dealing with a knee injury. New superstar LeBron James is a much better fit on the floor with Ball, who is a great cutter off the ball and can help make up for James’ occasional laziness on defense by playing solid defense himself.
Ball did have surgery on his knee in the offseason. However, he is expected to make a full recovery by the start of his training camp, so that’s not really a major factor here. Expect Ball to start the season at point guard over Rondo and get the lion’s share of minutes there all season.
Lakers not a top-five seed in the Western Conference (-155 with 5Dimes)
As I alluded to above, the Western Conference is going to be very unforgiving next season. If a squad fails to develop chemistry quickly or struggles with injuries, the strength of the rest of the West will be sure to push said team to the bottom of the standings.
The Lakers will probably not be a top-five seed next year. The Golden State Warriors are the favorites to win the NBA title and will have one of those five seeds. The Houston Rockets won 65 games a year ago and are bringing back their three best players (James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela). The Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz have extremely balanced starting fives with defense and lots of experience. They should take spots number three and four.
After those teams who should make the top four, it’s anybody’s guess who fills the fifth spot. The Lakers might fill it, but the Denver Nuggets, San Antonio Spurs, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans and the Portland Trail Blazers all have solid squads as well.
Los Angeles has too little shooting and too much youth for oddsmakers to trust in them this much to be a top-five seed. Having LeBron James isn’t enough for a top-five seed in the West, especially considering that he sometimes coasts on defense during the regular season.
Lakers win zero championships before 2022-2023 season (-185 with 5Dimes)
This is a bet you won’t be cashing in on for a long time. However, there’s just no possible route to the Finals this season, and teams like the Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Utah Jazz all figure to be powerhouses for a long time with the players they have locked up.
Sure, LeBron is going to be a Laker for at least three more seasons, and he very well could attract some big-name players to come play for the team in the next year or two.
However, is there even a guarantee of a championship if the team somehow is able to attract, say, Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson? No. The elite Warriors, Celtics, 76ers and Jazz teams would probably still exist in that timeline. There are also 25 other NBA teams that all have the chance at a surprise run to dominance.
At some point, LeBron is going to start declining. And when that happens, the Lakers could be an amazing team. They also might be mediocre. Because of the uncertainty of the future, this is a good bet to take.