Every year, before the start of the NBA season, a panel of ESPN’s basketball experts participate in a poll where they try and predict which teams and players will take home the league’s biggest awards, including the Most Valuable Player Award, the Rookie of the Year Award and, of course, the NBA championship.
Last year, they predicted that the the Los Angeles Lakers would finish with the fifth-best record in the Western Conference behind the Denver Nuggets, LA Clippers, Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz. They also gave the Lakers the fourth-best odds to win it all behind the Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers.
As we all know now, the kind folks at ESPN were just slightly off in their predictions.
The Lakers finished the 2019-20 season ason with the best record in the Western Conference and the third-best record in the NBA. Following their successful regular season campaign, the Lakers cruised to their 17th NBA title, winning all but one of their playoff series in five games.
Simply put, they were the best team in the league, and they got even better in the offseason, at least on paper. For that reason, the experts at ESPN aren’t overthinking their for the NBA champion this year — the Lakers are the favorites by a wide margin:
1. Los Angeles Lakers: 132 points (86% first-place votes)
2. Milwaukee Bucks: 50 points (7% first-place votes)
3. LA Clippers: 30 points (7% first-place votes)
To give a little context as to how favorited they are compared to last year, the two teams with the most first-place votes were separated by 32 points. This year, the Lakers and the Bucks are separated by a whopping 82 points.
ESPN’s experts have been wrong before, but in our own expert opinion, they got it right this year.