The new NBA season tips off tonight and for one of its greatest names, it threatens to be a miserable campaign.
The Los Angeles Lakers, in all probability, are going to stink. Marked down at 151.0 to win the title, it’s hard to see the team with the second most championships in league history even making the playoffs as – for the first time in recent memory – the sole mission will be rebuilding for the future rather than gearing up for the present.
A still-good but well past his prime Kobe Bryant and a ever-inconsistent Carlos Boozer apart, the average Laker would struggle to buy a selfie request if they walked down Hollywood Boulevard.
With Steve Nash effectively condemned to retirement last week, Jeremy Lin will bring millions of Asian fans but little else. And as you move down the rotation, this figures to be their worst team since, well, last year when they won only 27 games with Bryant and Nash sidelined and no additional help.
They’re on a line of 1.91 to break the 30-win barrier – a target which might just pay off. Beyond that, expect the losses to mount up with Kobe’s frustrations, with LA’s favourite team slated as outsiders in a Pacific Division where their now-noisy neighbours, the LA Clippers, are 1.55 to emerge on top.
The only area where they may top the polls is in the scoring race where Bryant, if he stays healthy, could have a shot – he’s good value at 21.00.
Otherwise, the Lakers are 3.25 against the Houston Rockets in their opener and having been held under 95 points in four of their eight preseason outings under new coach Byron Scott, go low on the points line and back the Texans title hopefuls on a handicap of -8.5 at 2.25.
Best bet: Go under 201.5 total points in Lakers–Rockets at 2.50