Russell Westbrook picked up his $47 million player option for the 2022-23 season, and the Lakers’ championship odds increased by 10%. For what it’s worth, according to the BetOnline sportsbook, now the Lakers have +1200 odds of winning their 18th NBA title in the 2022-23 season.
This boils down to Los Angeles possessing the sixth-best odds of adding another title to their collection next season. However, no one can predict the future. The Lakers and Nets had top-3 odds of winning it all last season as well.
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2022-2023 NBA Championship Odds
Now that Westbrook is opting in for the 2022-23 season, this should put all the NBA trade rumors to bed. Head coach Darvin Ham is excited to work with the two-time scoring champion at training camp. “Don’t get it messed up, Russell is one of the best players our league has ever seen, and there’s still a ton left in that tank,” explained Ham.
Last season, Westbrook averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game in 78 games played. Ham wants the guard to adjust his game to better fit his system. He turns 34 this November. The 2022-2023 NBA championship odds for the top contenders are shown below.
|Golden State Warriors||+525|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+550|
|Los Angeles Lakers||+1200|
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Will the Lakers improve next season with Russell Westbrook?
In the 2021-22 NBA season, the Lakers finished 33-49 (.402). They ranked 11th overall in the Western Conference. To say the team fell short of expectations last season would be a massive understatement. They were one of the favorites to win the 2022 NBA Finals. Yet, the Lakers couldn’t even qualify for a play-in tournament spot.
Not to mention, it was only the fourth time of LeBron James’ career that he missed the playoffs with his team. Bettors knew something was suspicious last season after the team failed to win even one preseason game. Sure, the exhibition games are usually meaningless, but at what point should the fans call out their struggles?
Furthermore, after the Wizards traded Westbrook along with future second-round draft picks to the Lakers for Kentavious Caldwell Pope, Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell, the Lakers’ win total increased to 51.5 games. Did oddsmakers overestimate the triple-double king’s impact in Los Angeles, or did Westbrook just have an underwhelming season? It’s more likely the former.
With a new coach, once again, sportsbooks are expecting the Lakers to improve upon their previous record. Whether or not fans will trust the oddsmakers this year is up for the bettors to decide for themselves.
Westbrook must change his style of play under Ham
Last season was the first time since the 2009-10 season that Westbrook fell short on averaging at least 20 points per game. Perhaps the experience was a culture shock for the nine-time All-Star. The guard because accustomed to carrying the offensive load for his previous teams, such as the Rockets in the 2029-20 season and Wizards for the 2020-21 season.
Though, when all the marbles were on the table with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Westbrook crumbled under the pressure. A case could be made that Los Angeles lacks team chemistry because of his addition. Next season will be the ultimate test. Frank Vogel was fired, so now the team can start over fresh. A new system was needed.
On the topic of improving the Lakers, Ham told the media: “We’re gonna sacrifice whatever we have to do, and it’s not just Russ. There’s gonna be sacrifices LeBron has to make, that A.D. has to make, all the way down the line of the rest of our roster.” This last quote applies especially to Russell Westbrook. If he wants to win a championship, he has to avoid iso-basketball at all costs.
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