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Las Vegas predict Lakers will finish fourth in Western Conference

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It would seem Las Vegas has some pretty lofty expectations for LeBron James and the Lakers.

2018 NBA Summer League - Las Vegas - Detroit Pistons v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers will open next season with some pretty lofty expectations from throughout their organization and fan base. This much can go without saying for the most part. Those expectations are matched by Las Vegas, it would seem.

Per Jeff Sherman of Westgate Las Vegas, Los Angeles’ win total has opened at 48.5, which would leave them tied with the Utah Jazz for fourth place if these were accurate (which with half a win, they can’t exactly be, but still):

As with every other instance in which I’ve written about gambling on the Lakers, I have to mentions how public a team they are — meaning they will attract a higher number of bets than other teams across the NBA. To me (and please, never, ever bet based on my opinion), this feels like setting the total at a point where even Laker fans might consider the under.

Remember, the point of setting numbers is to garner as many bets on each side as possible.

In complete honesty, I would probably take the under if I’d bet this at all. Frankly, I’d probably stay completely away from the bet altogether. This isn’t about me doubting the team per se, I just think wins are going to be really hard to come by next year in general.

Think of it this way: Only two teams seem built to tank in the Western Conference (the Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings). A few other teams might eventually reach that point thanks to injuries (the Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies — who don’t have their first-rounder next year — and Clippers). That still leaves upwards of 10 teams vying for eight playoff spots.

All this leads me to believe we’ll see a bunch of teams in that 44 to 48 wins range, which falls well below the number in question.

A ton would have to go right for the Lakers to reach the 49 wins needed for those betting the over to cash in. They’d have to avoid injuries, hit the ground running in terms of chemistry, the kids would have to be ready for the spotlight that comes with LeBron James and, honestly, they’d need other teams to slip up in some way or another.

Maybe I’m wrong and all those things fall the Lakers’ way. If things turn out like that, I’ll quite happily cop to underselling this team. I just don’t know about betting hard-earned money on going over for this win total.