The Los Angeles Lakers are clearly not trying to tank this year. The team added veterans like Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov this summer in an effort to supplement their young core with capable role players, and the front office obviously wants to at least make a return to competence after three straight trips to the lottery (and possibly, because of Jim Buss’ self-imposed deadline, their jobs on the line).
They took steps in the right direction, but the team may have better chances to keep their 2016 lottery pick than most thought possible entering the summer. As a result of the doomed Steve Nash trade, the Lakers still owe a first round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers (who acquired it from the Phoenix Suns). That pick is once again top-three protected this season, meaning if the Lakers’ selection is outside of the first three in the lottery then they have to convey it to Philadelphia (it is unprotected in 2018).
According to Las Vegas oddsmaker SuperBook, the Lakers are projected to improve from 17-wins to around 24.5. While a respectable one season jump, that estimate still would leave them with the second-worst record in the league if SuperBook’s projections are relatively accurate (h/t AllThatAmar of SLC Dunk for the handy table of the estimates):
Could the Lakers end up surprising Vegas? Sure, but while that win total may be disappointing for the most optimistic fans, it looks about right and is still a notable improvement over last season.
The Lakers kick off training camp (and their apparent quest for around 24-25 wins) next Monday.
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