LeBron making Lakers an instant contender?

NBA Championship Odds: Are the Lakers worth a bet with LeBron on board?

The signing of superstar LeBron James shifted the direction of the Los Angeles Lakers from promising team in the middle of a rebuild to one of the favorites to win an NBA Championship. Does the addition of LeBron do enough to catapult LA into a team capable of winning the title?

Los Angeles Lakers Championship Odds

According to oddsmakers, the Lakers are tied with the Houston Rockets as having the third-best odds to win the NBA title at 10/1. The two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors are the overwhelming favorites at 10/17 after adding DeMarcus Cousins in free agency, while the Boston Celtics have the second-best odds at 6/1. A full list can be found on our NBA Future Odds Page.

Look at Lakers roster

We'll start with James, who will turn 34 on December 30 but is still showing no signs of slowing down as arguably the best player in the NBA. In his second stint in Cleveland, he led his squad to four consecutive NBA Finals appearances and one championship. This past season might have been his most impressive as he averaged 27.5 points along with 9.1 assists and 8.6 rebounds. He upped those totals in the postseason to 34.0 points plus 9.1 rebounds and 9.0 assists. He guided a Cavs roster that did not provide a lot of help around him to the Finals, where they were swept by the Warriors. 

If Los Angeles does not make any other moves this offseason, it enters the season with a slew of guards and wingmen to complement James. Point guard Lonzo Ball is coming off knee surgery and is reportedly being shopped in trades, but he showed during his rookie season to be a solid distributor and a better than advertised defender. Small forward Brandon Ingram came into his own as a strong all-around player who even filled in at point guard when Ball was hurt. Also expected to be key contributors are Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and NBA Summer League MVP Josh Hart, while forner LeBron nemesis Lance Stephenson was signed in free agency and will add toughness plus a veteran presence. Rajon Rondo also comes in as a free agent and is still one of the NBA's assist men and when focused is a plus player on any team.

Power forward Kyle Kuzma was one of the league's brightest rookies, showing himself as a lethal outside shooter and someone who can score in a variety of ways. He wore down last season, but should be better equipped to handle the full schedule his sophomore season. Brook Lopez and incoming free agent JaVale McGee provide a trusted center combo.

Our Prediction:

The Lakers should be strong enough to be one of the best teams in the Western Conference and very well might play in the conference finals. But it's very difficult to picture anyone topping the Warriors this season, especially after the addition of Cousins. Never count out LeBron, but I'm not sure if I want to fade Golden State right now. Maybe next year if another star such as Kawhi Leonard comes over in free agency.

 

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