Former NBA champion with the Golden State Warriors, Andrew Bogut, had some things to say about the Lakers’ upcoming season.
Bogut’s overall ranking list included (in order), Phoenix, Denver, the Clippers, Memphis, Golden State, Sacramento, Dallas, New Orleans, and Oklahoma City, all ahead of your Lakers, who he has slotted in at the 10 seed.
In this hypothetical situation, the Lakers would visit OKC in a win-or-go-home play-in game, which would then be followed by (if LA wins), a win-or-go-home matchup with the loser of a New Orleans-Dallas matchup.
In a playoff setting, it’s nearly impossible to bet against LeBron, so even accounting for Bogut’s lack of confidence in the team, they’d probably find a way to sneak in, regardless.
On that note, however, Bogut’s seeding of the Lakers was awfully low and easy to be critical of.
One team that is easily unlikely to finish above LA is New Orleans, who, even in a best-case scenario, feel like a 9 or 10 seed. While they’ve been successful with Zion Williamson healthy, the probability that he escapes his incredibly long injury history and stays out there for most of the season seems low, paired with a serious injury already suffered by contributing wing player Trey Murphy III.
The Mavericks finished around .500 last season with Kyrie and Luka, indicating that a similar record could be put out in a full season. While the roster narrowly improved, the arbitrage seems difficult to see as large enough to rationalize a huge boost in seeding (they were 11th last season).
Another surprising team was Sacramento, as while they were the 3-seed last season, they were first-round exists with no roster improvements in the offseason, and their best players in their prime. This leaves them in a situation where improvement is highly unlikely, and having possessed one of the worst defenses in the league last season, regression from them is probably imminent.
It’s easy to see a scenario where a couple of the teams above the Lakers finish above them—in fact, it’s highly likely that a few of them do.
For every possible team that could be better than the Lakers, to actually be better, however, is a completely different conversation, and seems highly improbable.
Among the teams Bogut has above LA, many of them have worse rosters and/or depth than the Lakers do, and down the stretch of an 82-game season, that can prove extremely costly for them, and advantageous for the Lakers.