There's no denying the Los Angeles Lakers are under a microscope. There's also no overlooking the fact that they continue to look like an organization that lacks any sort of blueprint for building a true contender. The Pacific Division is loaded with quality teams, but the Lakers sure haven't shown that they're one of them.
The defending champion Warriors sit as the favorites at +175 on BetMGM to win it, with the Suns and Clippers coming in at +200, and the Lakers way down at +800, along with the always rebuilding Kings at a very distant +25000. The eventual NBA champion could come out of this division, and there's no guarantee it'll be Golden State.
No one would be surprised if the Warriors came away with another division title, of course. Their core is still in its prime, and the youth they stockpiled during the two down years is only expected to take on bigger roles this season.
Then there's the Suns, who deserve to be in the conversation, but with Chris Paul getting older, and DeAndre Ayton clearly not happy about being back in Phoenix, you have to worry about them taking a step back. It could be a chemistry issue or just a roster that's missed it's window, but either way, the Suns are much more likely to find themselves down the Western Conference standings this time around.
In come the Clippers, who at +700 sit tied for the fourth-best odds to also win the NBA title on BetMGM, with a squad that should be at full strength for the 2022-23 season. Those odds aren't unreasonable either -- this team is loaded.
This team won 42 games last year with Kawhi Leonard missing the entire season (+2500 to win MVP), and Paul George (+5000) only playing in 31 games. Add both of those All-Stars to a roster that might be the deepest in the league, while also adding John Wall to the mix, and title expectations absolutely should be sky-high for this organization.
Wall has shown he's got enough left in the tank to be a third option for a team after he averaged 20.6 points and 6.9 assists in 40 games in 2020-21 before sitting out all of last season. That's not only an upgrade, but a nice fit for his next chapter, and coupled with the rest of their depth that helped get this team to the play-in tournament, you have to feel at least lukewarm about something different this time around.
The Warriors deserve to be the favorites, but the Clippers have a shot to dethrone them when the regular season is all said and done.
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