The Los Angeles Lakers are just a few days away from their first preseason game, and there is a newfound optimism surrounding them as they progress through training camp.
But outside of the organization, everyone still seems to be counting out Los Angeles.
Many feel the best it can do, even if they stay fully healthy, is to be a play-in tournament team in the always-loaded Western Conference.
ESPN is expecting just that for the Lakers, as it has predicted they will win just 36.8 games this season and finish ninth (subscription required to view full article).
“Unlike the deep East, there’s a big drop-off in my West projections from the top eight teams to the group fighting for the final two play-in spots. The Lakers can rightfully expect better health from stars Anthony Davis and LeBron James than last season, when they won just 33 games. But only Patrick Beverley rates well among the team’s revamped backcourt rotation, and the Lakers’ minimum additions at center (Thomas Bryant and Damian Jones) also lag as compared to their peers at the position.”
Writer Kevin Pelton used a stats-based model to make his predictions, which is always problematic, as some aspects of players and teams, both positive and negative, don’t show up in numbers or formulas.
It should be noted that this same article also predicted the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors will also fall into the play-in tournament, so its projections should be taken with a grain of salt.