COMMENTARY | Las Vegas released its over/under numbers for all 30 NBA teams on Tuesday, and the Los Angeles Lakers stand at 33.5.
They deserve better, but the number is justifiable under the circumstances.
The Lakers have every reason to feel like it's them against the world heading into the Oct. 29 season opener against the Los Angeles Clippers. Everyone outside of their own locker room is doubting them, including oddsmakers whose job it is to play the percentages. A season ago, 33 wins would've captured the No. 11 seed in the Western Conference. This season it figures to net a worse result considering how top-heavy it is.
Vegas isn't the only one placing doubt on this year's Purple and Gold.
ESPN's Power Rankings have the Lakers situated at No. 21, citing the uncertainty of Kobe Bryant's recovery as a reason for the low positioning. The caveat here is that because they're missing Dwight Howard, the expectations are much lower, which in turn gives everyone on the team something to prove. How many wins that translates to is anyone's guess, but a team featuring Bryant (eventually), Pau Gasol and Steve Nash can string together 34 wins without issue.
Considering the crop of young players who can bring athleticism coupled with those veterans who know how to win, the Lakers are poised to surprise skeptics. Better yet, they'll have a full training camp to mesh as a unit and bring the newcomers up to speed on head coach Mike D'Antoni's system.
But for the folks who set the betting lines, it's strictly a numbers game, and the Lakers have a lot of factors working against them.
For starters, they're without Bryant, who is their unquestioned best player, indefinitely. Consequently, he's the key to any measure of success they'll have in 2013-14. Very few believe in the rest of the team's ability to compete.
That alone should motivate the Lakers to prove doubters wrong and play for one another. Playing as underdogs is new territory for the Lakers, but it's a role they can embrace while the high-flying Clippers steal some headlines across the hall.
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Michael C. Jones is a Southern California-based journalist and was the 2012 Contributor of the Year. He is the founding editor of Sports Out West and contributes to SB Nation.
Statistics via Basketball-Reference.com.
- Sports & Recreation
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Kobe Bryant