- BetOnline’s updated odds have the Lakers (-160) as the new favorites to win the Pacific
- LeBron James and Anthony Davis are both earning MVP buzz after leading their team to a 22-3 start
- The Clippers (+120) are 3.5 games back of the division lead after missing Paul George for half the season.
A funny thing happened in the summer. The second-best player ever, LeBron James, joined forces with a just-entering-his-prime Anthony Davis on the most-popular franchise in pro basketball and… the Lakers weren’t favored to win the NBA title or even their own division.
With the Purple & Gold off to their best start since the 1985/86 season, let’s look at the updated Pacific-division odds and determine who will win the Battle of Los Angeles.
NBA PACIFIC DIVISION ODDS
|Team||Current Odds||Trending||Before Season|
|Los Angeles Lakers||-160||↑||+275|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+120||↓||-150|
|Golden State Warriors||+10000||↓||+350|
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Anthony Davis received more than his fair share of criticism for forcing his way out of the Big Easy, but I kinda like the player-empowerment era.
Instead of toiling away in obscurity on an irrelevant Pelicans team, the six-time All-Star is a top-five MVP candidate with an incredible shot at winning the title.
Seventeen years ago today, @KingJames made his national TV debut. He delivered ?
31 points | 13 rebounds | 6 assists pic.twitter.com/CQsSd7NIq9
— ESPN (@espn) December 12, 2019
Remember a few years back when TV talking heads were whispering that big stars didn’t want to play with LeBron? Well, AD is averaging 27.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 1.5 steals while shooting 50.7% from the field.
King James isn’t too shabby himself. Reinventing himself as a point guard at age 34, LeBron is averaging more than 10 assists for the first time in his career while still putting up over 25 points per game.
Winners of five in a row with 12 straight road triumphs, Los Angeles is now tied with the Bucks for the league’s best record. While there has been much talk about the team’s easy early-season schedule, the theory doesn’t quite hold water (as I will soon explain).
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
Favored to win their division and the championship before the year, the Clippers are currently 3.5 games back of their co-tenants in the Staples Center at 19-7.
Five of those losses came against teams currently in the postseason: Bucks (twice), Rockets, Jazz and the Phoenix Suns (oof). Meanwhile, the Lakers are 8-3 in their 11 games against playoff teams, seemingly dispelling the easy-schedule theory.
A massive standing ovation and “MVP” chants for Kawhi Leonard as he finally receives his championship ring. ? pic.twitter.com/Hm9AOcLeDL
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) December 12, 2019
The case for the Clippers winning the division is that they didn’t have Paul George for 11 games.
Alleviating any concerns about his surgically-repaired shoulders, the 29-year-old forward is averaging 23.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists while playing his usual brand of lockdown defense.
However, the case against Doc Rivers’ club claiming the Pacific is that they’re still employing a load-management approach with Kawhi Leonard.
Given the two-time Finals MVP picked up his championship ring in Toronto on Wednesday night, the Clippers shouldn’t need any more proof that the strategy works, but it’s an approach that will ultimately cost them a division title.
Best Bet: Lakers (-160)