Las Vegas released their over/unders for the 2016-17 NBA season, and most Los Angeles Lakers fans probably didn’t love what they saw. The Lakers were initially set at 24.5, which would leave them as the worst team in the Western Conference and second worst team in the entire NBA if the predictions held true.
Will the Lakers really be that bad? What are reasonable expectations for the team? To try and get some answers to these two questions, we turn to the Silver Screen and Roll staff for our latest Silver Screen and Roundtable:
1) Do you think the Lakers will win more, or less than 24.5 games? How many games do you think they'll win?
Daman Rangoola: More. I have them pegged at 27 wins, a 10-win improvement over last year's pitiful campaign. This isn't necessarily a bad thing at all, especially considering the Lakers have a top-three protected pick in what appears to be a loaded draft.
Despite adding veterans such as Jose Calderon, Timofey Mozgov, and Luol Deng, this team is still extremely young, and young teams just don't win at a high rate in the NBA. The team is headed in the right direction, with a clearer path towards playoff contention than the franchise has had in a couple of years. Luke Walton's impact as a head coach will be felt from opening night, but I don't think it'll translate to a drastic difference in wins and losses in his first year.
This team will be more competitive, the young players will be given ample opportunity to grow...and will lose a lot.
Ben Rosales: More, around 27 wins or so and I'd venture to say that this is a floor for their performance this upcoming season, not a ceiling. The sheer gravitational pull of the Byron black hole of incompetence and manning up still gets too little press for how it actively deflated the Lakers' win total last season.
Last year's team featured systems that were actively harmful at both ends, nonsensical rotations, and a coach more interested in proving the size of his nether regions than actually teaching anyone on the team how to go about winning games. Add on the relative disaster that was Kobe Bryant for the grand majority of last season and this year's team has effectively managed to unchain two massive anchors on their chances of winning any given night.
Even if we assume teething issues on Luke's part, the superiority of the personnel (thus making arranging the rotation easier: we're often arguing about multiple good ways of constructing lineups instead of one demonstrably "decent" lineup and a pile of smoldering garbage) and having a system that is sensible for that personnel is a massive overall leap on this past season.
Ultimately, the team will go as far as the young core can carry them, but given all of the aforementioned and the pieces around them core to complement their skill sets, I'd reserve the right to be pleasantly surprised by the how the team does.
Jameson Miller: More. Let’s say 31 wins. Before anyone accuses me of wearing purple and gold tinted glasses, bear in mind that a record of 31-51 would still only bring the Lakers’ win percentage to a whopping .378. Yeehaw.
Really though, as has already been stated ad nauseum, this season’s successes and failures won’t be measured in the win-loss column. Luke Walton’s oft stated purpose of developing the young guys and engendering a positive culture should, somewhat paradoxically, lead to far more winning than his predecessor’s feckless attempts at doing so ever did.
The Great Mambino: The under, just a tad, at 23 wins. The Lakers will definitely be better this year, but that's not saying much considering last season's squad was the worst in franchise history. Their two main problems, if we could even go so far as to distill them to two isolated reasons? Zero semblance of any offensive game plan and the worst defense in the league.
Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov go a long way to help remedy that, but make no mistake--this is a team that belongs to the young core. As such, I can only suspect that Future Hall of Fame Head Coach Luke Walton will let them take their lumps.
D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle weren't ready to defend on an NBA level and as (essentially) second-year players, it's tough to expect that they'll make great strides. Future seven-time All-Star Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac have the physical tools, but as rooks, let's not pray for the second coming of KD and Serge Ibaka. Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams aren't providing any perimeter protection.
Offensively, it's hard to say what Walton will do to the offense (because he's never done this before), but with so many young players, projecting even a middle of the road offensive efficiency may be asking too much.
Again, Deng and Moz will help shore up the defense, but I expect this team to be a bottom 5-10 defense again, which is enough to put a pretty severe cap on their wins no matter what the offense does.
Sabreena Merchant: The Lakers will win fewer than 24.5 games. Although two of the major issues of last year's team have been remedied, this is still a very young team with an unproven coach that doesn't have a proven formula to win games, at least not yet. The defense was hideous last year and doesn't figure to improve tremendously, given that many of the core players are rookies or sophomores.
Even considering the new additions, there's no guarantee that Timofey Mozgov will return to his 2015 form, and Luol Deng was much better as a four last year than at small forward, which is where he projects to spend most of his time.
Hopefully, the offense will take a step forward with a more creative and modern system under Luke Walton. However, if the defense is a trainwreck once again, the Lakers will struggle to pick up wins in an improved Western Conference. 21 wins.
Tom Fehr: This is a lame answer, but the over/under seems about right. The team should be better, but the roster's still really bad for this year, and they're in a really tough conference where it feels like everyone else is getting better too. I'll say they hit 25 wins, so technically this is an over, but I wouldn't touch that over/under line at all in Vegas.
Bryant Freese: More. I have the Lakers winning 26 or 27 games this upcoming season. A solid 9 to 10 game improvement from last years disappointing season. Many fans want to see the Lakers in contention for the playoffs this year, which isn’t going to happen, but for a team as young as the Lakers, a 9 or 10 game upgrade is a vast improvement.
The coaching change from Byron Scott to Luke Walton should yield at least three more wins from last season alone. New additions like Brandon Ingram and free-agents Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng are upgrades at their respective positions and will add a few more wins to the Lakers record.
Chinmay Vaidya: I think the Lakers will be over 24.5 games, but not by much. The big change will be Luke Walton at head coach. I expect his more modern offensive system to benefit D'Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram tremendously. The additions of Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov may not do much for the win total, but they are still NBA-level players that can contribute consistently. Deng will be the best defender on the team and the perimeter group should be better defensively because of Deng's presence. I think 28 wins is a reasonable expectation for this team given all the changes.
SoCalGal: I'm gonna go out on a limb and say more. 52 games. Book it.
2) What record would qualify as a disappointment for you this season?
Daman: Last year the Lakers won 17 games, I think anything less than a 5-7 wins improvement would be disappointing. There should be enough natural growth, coaching aptitude, and veteran presence to cross the 24.5 over/under.
Ben: Probably anything below the Vegas line. Luke has publicly disclaimed wins in favor of observing the development of the young core, but as mentioned above, those things are going to be pretty strongly correlated next season. This isn't to say that we shouldn't expect some struggles and clunkiness as they work out the kinks but if the team's performing (relatively) well in the win column, that means that the kids are also playing well and that's the ultimate goal next season.
Jameson: Anything in the low twenties. Again, although wins and losses shouldn’t be the measuring stick of progress this year, there’s still a certain empirical threshold that shouldn't be broken if the Lakers want to be afforded the latitude typically reserved for a “young team on the rise” while avoiding the scathing criticisms heaped on a team that’s obviously going nowhere, or worse, going backward.
Mambino: 16 wins would be disappointing. This team is not good, but they're not as bad as last year and no coach, no matter what his level of experience, could be as bad as Byron Scott.
Sabreena: I feel resigned to being disappointed with the Lakers no matter what this season, because they'll likely miss the playoffs for the fourth year in a row. Growing up a Laker fan, that was essentially inconceivable. Anything under 25 wins would be pretty disappointing, even though I fully expect that result.
Tom: I'll say around 20 wins or less would be a disappointment. But in a bigger picture, what's much more important is how they get to whatever win total they reach. Did the young guys improve? Did Walton make good adjustments after getting some experience under his belt? Were Deng and Mozgov good additions? Any of these questions would be a bigger indicator of satisfaction or disappointment than the actual win total.
Bryant: I’m giving the Lakers one game under the Vegas line, 24 wins. Anything under 24 wins is a disappointment. They won 17 games last year, and the development of D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson, plus the additions they made should be enough to improve more than six games from last season.
Chinmay: Anything under 20 wins would be a disappointment. This would mean the young players didn't take any steps forward, Ingram had an underwhelming year and the Walton hire would definitely be questioned. Lakers fans are looking a for a massive improvement and anything under 20 wins would be extremely disheartening.