It’s no secret that the Los Angeles Lakers have had a busy off-season, returning only three players from last year’s squad while adding a grip of NBA veterans. Returning from last year’s team are LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Talen Horton-Tucker, who resigned in August and projects to have a far larger role for the team in 2021-22.
Among the additions, there were none bigger than Russell Westbrook. The Lakers sent
coveted forward Kyle Kuzma, along with Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and the 22nd overall pick in the 202 NBA Draft (Isaiah Jackson) in exchange for Westbrook, a 2024 second-round pick and a 2028 second-round pick, sources added.
Since then, the team has added swingman Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Wayne Ellington, Trevor Ariza, Kent Bazemore, Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Nunn, Malik Monk, Mac McClung, and Chaundee Brown. With both Joel Ayayi and Austin Reaves on two-way contracts and DeAndre Jordan signing on September 9, 2021, the Lakers are heading into the pre-season with a single guaranteed roster spot available.
If DeAndre Jordan signs with the Lakers, they will have added 8 players age 32 or older this offseason:
That is the most in a single offseason in NBA history. pic.twitter.com/4300Pea7QO
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 3, 2021
Los Angeles certainly is better than last season from a talent standpoint and heading into the new season is the bookmaker’s favorite to win the Western Conference. The New Jersey Nets at +240 are championship favorites, but not by much. Los Angeles is just behind them at +400 with the Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks both at +900. The Phoenix Suns round out the top-5 at +1500.
NBA MVP Odds
Two players on the Los Angeles Lakers roster have won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award. LeBron James has won the award four times, twice as a Cleveland Cavalier, and most recently in 2012 and 2013 as a member of the Miami Heat. Currently, James leads all Lakers in this year’s MVP betting offers at +1000 to win the award for the fifth time.
Russell Westbrook won the award back in 2017 while playing with the Oklahoma Thunder, but is currently at long odds to win it again this season. The 32-year old, nine-time NBA All-Star is currently at +5000 which has him outside the Top-10. The last Laker to win NBA Most Valuable Player honors was Kobe Bryant in 2008.
There are obvious concerns in regards to whether Westbrook can realistically stay healthy over the course of an entire season, but with a championship being a realistic possibility in Los Angeles he’s been putting in the work during the off-season.
Brodie's bounce is effortless 🔥
(via harrington1313/IG) pic.twitter.com/z32qIOP2IH
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 15, 2021
This has led some to question the long MVP odds.
Last season Westbrook played in 65 games for the hard-scrabble Washington Wizards and averaged a career-best of 36.4 minutes on the court. The Long Beach California native set all-time bests in assists per game (11.7) and rebounds per game (11.5). What are those numbers playing with Anthony Davis and LeBron James? Do those numbers improve?
As if that wasn’t enough—Westbrook is home. There’s little telling just how high his ceiling is or what we’ll see from a player who will finally get to star in front of a home,e town audience, not to mention that very real incentive of a championship, something that has eluded Westbrook his entire career.
2021-22 NBA MVP Race Odds