With training camp set to begin next Monday after media day, the Lakers will have a lot of expectations heading into the upcoming season. Adding the best player in the world is going to draw attention and the media and fans are eager to see how this Lakers team is going to play. The Western Conference has been the tougher conference for several years now and this year is no different. You still have the reigning NBA champs in the Warriors, who undoubtedly are the prohibited favorites to win it again. Then you have the Rockets with Harden and Paul who will be formidable. The upcoming Utah Jazz with rising star Donovan Mitchell. Then there’s the Thunder with Westbrook and George. That is just a short list of good teams the Lakers will have to battle with to try to rise to the top.
The Lakers roster is a unique one with a talented young core, sprinkled with some good savvy veterans. It’s no question that the vets will put pressure on the young players to do better, but that is a good thing. The more the pressure, the better the young players have to perform on a daily basis. Ball, Kuzma and Hart will only be in their 2nd season and they need all the tutoring and leadership from guys like Rondo, James, Stephenson and Beasley. Preseason is only 10 days away, and the team must build chemistry quickly in order to compete in a grueling 82-game season. With James now on the Lakers, every team will be gunning for them. As we looked at the schedule, there are going to be some really tough games against the Warriors, Rockets, Jazz, Thunder, Celtics, Sixers, Raptors and Bucks. Most of those teams are the cream of the crop, and we haven’t even listed the up and coming teams that will also make it difficult.
As tough as the Western Conference is, we have the Lakers finishing the season 52-30 which can possibly slot them anywhere from the 3rd to 5th seed. Of course, this is assuming players will be healthy for most part of the season. Last year, the Lakers finished with an overall record of 35-47, so it would be a 17 game increase if our predictions are correct. It will take time for this Lakers team to get it together, but once they hit their stride they’ll be a problem for the rest of the league. 52 wins may seem a bit high, but that’s the impact LeBron James will have on the Lakers.