Once again, LeBron James has altered the landscape of professional basketball. James agreed to a four-year contract with the Lakers on Sunday, taking his talents to the Western Conference for the first time. Of course, that move completely altered the NBA title odds, which have already been in flux thanks to James’ expected departure from Cleveland.
Lakers Odds to Win NBA Title
Shortly after the press release announcing James’ decision to join the Lakers, WestGame Superbook manager Jeff Sherman released his revised odds for the 2019 NBA title. As you can probably imagine, the Lakers are now a strong favorite to contend. They are now down to +350 to win the 2019 title, trailing only the Warriors as the league favorite.
LeBron James has reached the NBA Finals every year for eight consecutive seasons.
And what of the Warriors? LeBron now plays in the Western Conference, where the postseason will face a more difficult gauntlet then he’s ever faced in the East.
So with the rosters today and unchanged, LeBron still isn’t even close to touching the Warriors on a neutral court.
LeBron joins a Lakers team that finished 35-47 last year under Luke Walton. They played an uptempo style, finishing second in the league in pace according to basketball-reference.com. Unlike in Cleveland, the Lakers have a legit supporting cast. Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball are a formidable core, and Kuzma is the oldest at 22. Not only will James get to be general of some of the best young athletes in the NBA, but the rising stars will learn and hopefully emulate the work ethic that’s made James one of the most consistent players in the history of the game.
Still, LeBron is going to have one hell of a time getting through the Western Conference playoffs. The Rockets and Warriors aren’t going anywhere, and both could easily prevent LeBron from reaching a ninth straight final.
If anyone saw a residual bump for reaching the Finals, it’s the Celtics. Without LeBron lurking around the East, the stage is set for Brad Stevens to build the Celtics into a perennial power. With a healthy Gordon Heyward and Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum becoming a young superstar, the Celtics are the second biggest beneficiary of this move besides the Lakers.
In June, we noted that the Lakers were creeping up the board at +2000. Looking back on those odds, posted less than a month ago, it’s clear that oddsmakers had hedged for potential LeBron movement. Teams like the Heat, Cavaliers and even the 76ers have seen their odds plummet with the Lakers deal being made official.
Source: Heavy Sports