By continuing to place the Los Angeles Lakers as the third most likely Western Conference team to win an NBA title this season, the Las Vegas oddsmakers know something the rest of us so-called experts don't.
Despite their awful 12-14 start, the Lakers are still at 10/1 odds to win the NBA championship in June, which puts them behind only the Oklahoma City Thunder (3/1) and San Antonio Spurs (7/1) to play for a title in the Finals. (Note: Odds are from BetLM.eu.)
Who are they kidding? Have these guys been to a Lakers game lately? Consider that Mike D'Antoni's club had to scratch and kick their way to three straight wins over the Wizards, Sixers and Bobcats just to get to 12 wins.
Granted, the Lakers have had enough legitimate excuses (Steve Nash and Steve Blake out with major injuries, Dwight Howard recovering from back surgery, three coaches in one month) to rationalize their sputtering start to the year.
Still, no one in professional sports cares who is playing and who is injured. They only care about the record, and the Lakers have a lousy one.
The "real" season for Kobe Bryant and the Lakers starts Saturday when they play in Oakland against the resurgent Golden State Warriors. Three days later, the Lakers come home to meet the equally surprising New York Knicks for the second time in two weeks.
The prognosticators must feel L.A. still has time to get its act together and be the kind of team that the betting world saw when it installed the Lakers as 2/1 favorites to win it all on Oct. 28 (according to Bovada) right before the regular season started.
There are 10 teams in the Western Conference with a better record than the Lakers. That's not to say they all are better teams than L.A., but if the season were to end today, guess who gets cut out of the playoffs? That's right, your Purple and Gold.
There are at least five teams in the Western Conference currently better than the Lakers, and that's not including the obvious ones in Oklahoma City and San Antonio.
In a season of surprises, here are five teams playing better basketball than the D12/Kobe/Nash Lakers and doing so in a way that's unsettling to fans everywhere.