Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers’ breakout player will be…

Anthony Davis. Yes, Anthony Davis is already fairly well established, but at just 26 years old and more motivated than ever (while playing alongside the best and most complementary teammate he’s ever had in LeBron James), expect a huge year from Davis to re-establish him as one of the undisputed best player in the league. He’s already said he wants to win Defensive Player of the Year, and he will likely get consideration for that and MVP if he can help the Lakers vault back up the Western Conference standings.

It all goes wrong if…

The stuff I said above doesn’t happen. This Lakers’ roster is pretty questionable if Davis and James don’t complement each other as well as it appears they will, or if either misses significant time.

What we’ll be saying about the Lakers at the end of the season…

The online discourse about the Lakers is usually fairly insufferable, so whatever is being said, it will probably be hyperbolic. A team with James and Davis is bound to draw a fair amount of hot takes in both directions all season, but to try and answer this legitimately, I think the Lakers won’t necessarily go all out for all 82 games but enter the playoffs with a ton of upside and become the proverbial “team no one wants to play” despite not being the top seed.

Final prediction

Las Vegas is just about right on their over-under of 51.5 for the Lakers, as the top-end talent on this team is good enough to drive a team above that, but there are enough question marks (like who is going to play most of their minutes at point guard and Dwight Howard, just in general) that — in conjunction with resting Davis and James liberally — will result in the team going under that. The Lakers could win significantly more games than Vegas thinks with health and if all their lottery-ticket roster additions all hit their upside, but it’s more likely they coast at times in an attempt to stay healthy, because they have bigger aspirations than regular season record.

Final prediction: 49-33

Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen)