With the Over/Unders being released for the 2014-2015 NBA season (now just a week away), I thought I’d post my thoughts on a few of the best betting options. I’m hoping to do a couple of separate posts on individual teams before the season starts. Since I use Sportsbook’s online site to bet, I will use their lines.
A couple days ago, I bet on the Los Angeles Lakers’ under of 32 at -130. Now the line has moved to 31 at -135 on the under. It’s obvious betting trends are putting significant downward pressure on the Lakers’ line, and there are multiple reasons why.
Last season the Lakers were terrible. They won just 27 games, with their point differential (4th worst in the league) projecting them for just 22 per ESPN.
The Lakers will have a much different look next season. They lost two of their top three scorers (Jodie Meeks and Pau Gasol) but they will hopefully get more from Kobe Bryant, as he played in just six games last season.
After last year’s disappointing season head coach Mike D’Antoni was replaced by Byron Scott. Byron Scott has been very vocal about his “old school” view of the game and the offense will look much different this season than last. In fact, the strategy that Scott appears to be implementing will be nearly opposite to the strategy used by D’Antoni in LA the past few years.
This preseason, the Lakers have taken a huge portion of inefficient mid range shots, and their offense has struggled as a result. Despite the return of Kobe, without a solid offensive system in place the Lakers simply do not have enough offensive weapons to score the ball effectively. At this point, there is a strong possibility that their offense is worse than last year’s 21st ranked unit, especially if their older players struggle to stay healthy.
The Lakers aren’t much better on the other side of the ball; they finished ahead of just the Jazz and the Bucks on defense last season. Scott is apparently focusing on defense, but I wouldn’t count on instant results.
When it comes to defense, it all starts with the bigs. This figures to be a problem for the Lakers this season as their rotation features several defensively challenged big men. Carlos Boozer, Julius Randle, Ed Davis, Jordan Hill and Robert Sacre are probably all below average defensively and none of them offer anything that resembles rim protection.
The guards don’t look much better, as Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant and Jeremy Lin are all bad defensively. There is not a single defensive impact player on this roster, and their system certainly isn’t going to save them. It would not shock me if this team finished last in defense this season, but either way they will likely be among the bottom five.
In Byron Scott’s last stop with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team never finished above 27th in defensive rating and they finished last in the division in each of his three seasons there.
On the surface, it may seem like the Lakers have what it takes to be competitive, but this team is not likely to be any better than last year’s team that probably should not have won 27 games. If Kobe has a crazy year the Lakers could get into the mid-30’s for wins, but this team will probably be in the bottom 10 in both offense and defense, which likely means they will struggle to get to 30 wins. In the event of a significant injury to any of their major contributors, this team could fall well short of 30 wins.
You have to pay to bet the under for the Lakers, but there’s a reason the line keeps moving. This team is unlikely to win more than 30 games, and it looks like Kobe will have to put his quest for a sixth ring on hold for another year.
*All stats per NBA.com