It’s still pretty hard to imagine how far the Lakers have come in the last two months. At the trade deadline, the team was in 13th place and floundering. Now, at the start of May, they’re in the second round of the playoffs and set to match up against the defending champion Warriors in a series that is not quite a toss-up but one the Lakers certainly have a shot in.
It’s been a long road for the Lakers, one that included detractors along the way. The Lakers went some way in making believers of them. They’re more than simply the best of a sub-par bottom of the Western Conference. But are they legitimate title contenders yet?
With only eight teams left in the playoffs, it’s no longer much of a longshot to be champions, especially with how frequent injuries seem to be happening this postseason (knock on wood). But the Lakers aren’t exactly one of the favorites.
According to DraftKings, the Lakers are coming in at +750 odds to win the NBA title. It’s the fifth-best odds in the entire NBA but last in the Western Conference. The Celtics have the best odds at +120, then the Nuggets at +600. The Warriors and Suns have matching +600 odds. Only the 76ers (+1200), Heat (+2800) and Knicks (+3000) have worse odds.
Interestingly, when looking at the Finals MVP odds, it’s a list of expected names. Jayson Tatum is the runaway leader for now at +185 with Nikola Jokic next at +650. The first Laker to appear is LeBron James at +1100, a surprise considering he was far from the best player last series. Anthony Davis, who dominated the series against the Grizzlies, is +1800.
If you’re looking for some fun long shots, the Lakers have a couple of those, too. Austin Reaves is coming in at +20000 odds to win Finals MVP while D’Angelo Russell is +35000.
Steph Curry, meanwhile, has the third-best odds of winning Finals MVP. The plucky, upstart and underdog Lakers are simply looking to take down the big bad defending champions with their superstar player.