Lakers Bold Predictions Ahead of 2022-23 NBA Season

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBAFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 22, 2022

Lakers Bold Predictions Ahead of 2022-23 NBA Season

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 1: Russel Westbrook #0 and LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers look on during the game against the New Orleans Pelicans on April 1, 2022 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

    We need something to liven up the (mostly) sleepy period between the NBA's free-agent frenzy and 2022-23 season.

    How about a fresh batch of bold predictions for the Los Angeles Lakers?

    Could everything break right for a deep playoff push? Might a certain franchise face secure the league's most coveted individual award? Is a major trade brewing behind the scenes?

    We're breaking out the crystal ball and cranking up the boldness setting to find out.

Russell Westbrook Doesn't Open New Year in LA

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    PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 5: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles the ball during the game against the Phoenix Suns on April 5, 2022 at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

    The Lakers seem relatively content not forcing the issue with a Russell Westbrook trade and instead hoping for the best and watching how it plays out.

    Los Angeles is currently telling teams it's taking "a wait and see approach" with the 33-year-old, per LJ Ellis of Spurs Talk.

    It's possible the Lakers honestly believe this can still work, but what is there to see? Westbrook isn't a good fit for the roster. His ball dominance doesn't work alongside LeBron James, and his erratic shooting hurts everyone around him.

    It seems more likely L.A. is leaving no stone unturned in its attempt to shed the nine-time All-Star (and his $47.1 million salary, per Spotrac) without sacrificing both of the future first-round picks it's allowed to trade.

    At some point soon, the Lakers will concede that just isn't possible and will package those picks with Westbrook to get him out and bring in a contributor or two who actually fit this group.

LeBron James Wins 5th MVP

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 1: LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the game against the New Orleans Pelicans on April 1, 2022 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

    This prediction should be the boldest on this list, if not too outlandish to even qualify for consideration. A 37-year-old being crowned NBA MVP? After his team booked one playoff trip and recorded zero series wins over the previous two seasons? Impossible, right?

    In all other cases, that would probably be correct, but LeBron James is the ultimate exception.

    Clearly, he isn't bound to the same rules of aging as the rest of us mere mortals. Last season, he posted the second-highest scoring average of his legendary career (30.3 points per game). In two of the last five years, he landed second in MVP voting.

    If he manages to stay healthy and solves the riddle that is this roster, award voters will be ready to shower him with praise.

    James' numbers remain MVP-quality—in addition to the points, he averaged 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists while shooting 52.4 percent from the field last season—so if he's healthy and the Lakers are more competitive than expected, he'll have as good of a chance at securing that hardware than anyone.

Lakers Win Multiple Playoff Series

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 1: LeBron James #6  and Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers look on before the game against the New Orleans Pelicans on April 1, 2022 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images

    You could argue the real bold move here would be calling for a championship, but that seems too far removed from reality.

    Sure, it could happen, but this club lost 49 games last season and failed to add a difference-maker this summer. Even the boldest prediction needs a better shot at coming to fruition than this would allow.

    Saying all of that, the Lakers have a chance to be pretty special—if everything breaks just right.

    There still aren't many teams with a twosome as talented as James and Anthony Davis. If L.A. brokers a Westbrook blockbuster and sacrifices both first-rounders, that should bring back at least one good player. Patrick Beverley should fit like a glove with L.A.'s stars. All of the young players have opportunities to enjoy their strongest season to date.

    You can see how this club could be a matchup problem, so much so that multiple playoff series wins aren't off the table.

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