For most of the season, it feels like the Los Angeles Lakers have been a tad bit underrated. Despite their early success, people questioned whether or not they were as good as the Milwaukee Bucks or the Clippers, the latter of whom they lost to on opening night and Christmas Day.
With the regular season all but finished, it’s become clear that the Lakers have as good of a shot as anyone to win the championship this year, and the playoff projections that ESPN released on Wednesday support that.
In March, ESPN’s panel of NBA insiders gave the Milwaukee Bucks a 60.5% chance of winning the title. The Lakers were a distant second at 28.9%, followed by the LA Clippers at 10.5%.
Three months later, and the same panel of NBA insiders has given the Lakers the best odds of winning the championship. Here’s how they voted:
Los Angeles Lakers: 50%
Milwaukee Bucks: 26.5%
LA Clippers: 23.5%
The voters also gave the Lakers a 97.1% chance of winning the Western Conference, and a 61.8% chance of making the NBA Finals. The latter is considerably lower than the Bucks’ odds of making the Finals (88.2%), but surely that has something to do with the conferences they play in.
It’s worth noting that the first poll was taken before the Lakers beat the Bucks and Clippers in back-to-back games, so there could be a little recency bias in play with the latest poll. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with voters changing their opinion on a team as a result of a few games — I mean, that’s what people did when the Lakers lost to the Clippers, right?
We’ll see how much the Lakers’ odds fluctuate when the season resumes next month.