The majority of NBA teams that most recently were seen on the basketball court finishing well outside of playoff contention aren’t picked as one of the top-five choices by oddsmakers in Las Vegas to win the next NBA Championship, but the Los Angeles Lakers aren’t most NBA teams.
So yes, despite the Lakers not looking like anywhere close to a title contender during the 2017-18 season, Las Vegas oddsmaker Westgate has given the purple and gold the fifth-best odds to win the next NBA title at 20/1, tied with the Miami Heat and behind the Golden State Warriors (5/4), Houston Rockets (7/2), Philadelphia 76ers (7/2) and Boston Celtics (8/1).
The full list is below:
2018-19 NBA Championship— Jeff Sherman (@golfodds) June 2, 2018
Trail Blazers 80/1
Reading this list, a few things are clear. For one, the Clippers look like they’re going to be terrible. Also, Las Vegas has very little faith in the Cleveland Cavaliers to keep LeBron James, which ... fair. After all, it’s not like the Cavaliers are in the NBA Finals due to anything other than the sheer force of LeBron’s overwhelming talent and will, and he could bring that anywhere.
And that’s where the Lakers come in, because as promising as L.A.’s young core is, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart aren’t why Las Vegas has faith in the Lakers. They either have a lot of faith James and/or other stars like Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and time-traveling Kobe Bryant are coming, or at least faith that Lakers fans think they are coming, which aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive ideas.
However, the Sixers having such high odds also aren’t because of their own young core or because Jeff Sherman is a Bryan Colangelo burner account. There also seems to be a lot of thought among oddsmakers that James or other free agents could head to Philadelphia, a scenario which would obviously knock the Lakers’ actual odds down a significant amount once it happened.
Still, the Lakers being in the conversation is quite a change from recent years, reflective of both an increased belief among oddsmakers in the team’s future and (probably) them sensing an increased belief in the Lakers amongst the team’s fanbase.
Which one of those things these odds are more reflective of can’t really be borne out until the results of free agency, but those in the know in Vegas at least seem to think there’s a chance. Fans just probably shouldn’t channel their inner-Lloyd from “Dumb and Dumber” and put all their money down upon hearing it.