It’s the dawn of a new era for the Los Angeles Lakers. But unless new coach Luke Walton is some kind of miracle worker, there still are several dark days ahead.
Kobe Bryant is history. He went out in April by scoring 60 points in his farewell game, a brilliant cap to a brutal 17-65 season.
Five months later, oddsmakers have raised the bar for the Lakers, but that bar remains low. When NBA regular-season win totals were posted at the Westgate this week, the Lakers were tagged at 25½ — the second-lowest total of the 30 teams.
“The sun is coming up on the horizon, but it’s a few years away,” Westgate sports book manager Jeff Sherman said. “This is phase one of the learning process for the Lakers. It’s tough for young teams to go out and get a lot of wins. I expect this Lakers team to be a lot better in the second half of the season than in the first half.”
This is a different world for Walton, who as interim head coach led the Golden State Warriors to a 24-0 start last season. He might not win that many games in his first season with the Lakers.
Of course, the Warriors will be fine without Walton. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green welcomed the addition of Kevin Durant, a four-time league scoring champion who signed as a free agent and created a story that did not slip under the radar this summer.
Still, will Golden State top 66½ wins? It’s not an absurd question about a team that will be more powerful a season after winning a league-record 73 games.
“If the Warriors played all of their big guys, they would be favored in every game,” Sherman said. “Golden State went full bore last season and didn’t come away with the championship, so there’s no reason to do that again. There’s a good chance they will have a comfortable lead with a few weeks to go, so they can rest some guys and maybe lose a few more games than people expect.”
The Warriors’ win total is set well above the No. 2 (San Antonio, 57½) and No. 3 (Cleveland, 56½) teams on the list. The Spurs won 67 last season, and the Cavaliers won 57 to earn the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
LeBron James and the Cavaliers claimed Game 7 of the NBA Finals at Golden State in June, so winning on the road in the playoffs again is not their biggest fear.
“I think the Cavs will rest LeBron on some nights and go through the motions,” Sherman said.
The Knicks acquired point guard Derrick Rose in a trade with the Bulls, who signed free-agent veteran Dwyane Wade to play in their backcourt with Jimmy Butler. The Bulls (38½ wins) are expected to be a sub-.500 team.
Rose boldly called the Knicks a “superteam” — along with the Warriors — because of what he can accomplish with Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis and Joakim Noah. Rose has been mocked for the comment, and oddsmakers set a total of 38½ on the Knicks that has been bet to 39½.
“The Knicks are getting a lot of ‘over’ action,” Sherman said.
The win total for the Jazz opened at 47½, which would require a big jump from their 40-42 finish last season. The Timberwolves, 29-53 last season, opened at 41½.
Only the Brooklyn Nets are stuck with a lower win total (20½) than the Lakers.
Plenty of time remains to place your bets. The regular season tips off Oct. 25, when the Cavaliers host the Knicks in the early game and the Warriors host the Spurs in the nightcap.
Contact sports betting reporter Matt Youmans at email@example.com or 702-387-2907. Follow on Twitter: @mattyoumans247
NBA REGULAR-SEASON WINS
(Posted at the Westgate sports book)
Golden State Warriors 66.5
San Antonio Spurs 57.5
Cleveland Cavaliers 56.5
Los Angeles Clippers 53.5
Boston Celtics 51.5
Toronto Raptors 49.5
Utah Jazz 47.5
Portland Trail Blazers 46.5
Detroit Pistons 45.5
Oklahoma City Thunder 45.5
Atlanta Hawks 43.5
Houston Rockets 43.5
Indiana Pacers 43.5
Memphis Grizzlies 43.5
Washington Wizards 42.5
Minnesota Timberwolves 41.5
Charlotte Hornets 39.5
Dallas Mavericks 39.5
Milwaukee Bucks 39.5
New York Knicks 39.5
Chicago Bulls 38.5
Denver Nuggets 36.5
Miami Heat 36.5
New Orleans Pelicans 36.5
Orlando Magic 36.5
Sacramento Kings 32.5
Philadelphia 76ers 27.5
Phoenix Suns 26.5
Los Angeles Lakers 25.5
Brooklyn Nets 20.5