Los Angeles Lakers: nba FUTURES & BETTING ODDS
The Lakers franchise began play in 1948 as the Minneapolis Lakers in the BAA, the Basketball Association of America. The Lakers won the 1948-49 title in the BAA over the Washington Capitols, after which the BAA merged with the NBL to create the NBA. The Lakers led by center Georgie Mikan, were the dominant franchise in the early days of the NBA, winning the first title in 1949-50 over the Syracuse Nationals, and then three-peating from 1952-54, with a pair of Finals wins over the Knicks and one more over the Nationals.
After their early dominance, the Minneapolis Lakers bottomed out in the 1957-58 season, going 19-53. The Lakers were awarded with the first pick of the 1958 NBA draft, which they used to select Elgin Baylor, who would be named Rookie of the Year and lead the Lakers back to the NBA Finals, where they would be swept by the Boston Celtics.
After the 1959-60 season, team owner Bob Short moved the franchise out west, where they would become the Los Angeles Lakers. The team began play in L.A. in 1960, but if you would have bet on the Los Angeles Lakers to make their first NBA Finals, you would have needed to wait all decade, as the Lakers, led by Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, and Wilt Chamberlain, finally won the Western conference in the 1969 playoffs, before losing in seven games to the New York Knicks.
Two years later, a bet on the Los Angeles Lakers would finally pay off as the Lakers avenged their loss to the Knicks by defeating New York in five games, with Chamberlain being named Finals MVP. The following year the Los Angeles Lakers odds were strong to repeat but the Knicks knocked them off in five games.
After missing the playoffs in the 1974-75 season, the Lakers traded for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of the Milwaukee Bucks, who would be named league MVP the following two seasons, though the Lakers missed the 1976 postseason and were swept by the Blazers in the 1977 conference finals.
Kareem would win his third MVP award as a Laker in the 1979-80 season, but it was the addition of rookie Magic Johnson who propelled the team to its second title in L.A., with Johnson being named Finals MVP as the team beat the 76ers in six games. Johnson would repeat the feat two seasons later when the Lakers beat Philadelphia again in six games to claim another title. The Los Angeles Lakers odds to repeat looked strong as they added rookie James Worthy out of North Carolina, but the team was swept in the 1983 Finals by the Sixers.
Many fans bet on the Los Angeles Lakers to win another title in 1984, but the team was once again thwarted by the Boston Celtics, losing in seven games. The Los Angeles Lakers odds looked even stronger during the 1985 playoffs, as the Lakers lost only two games in getting out of the Western conference, before defeating the Celtics in six games as Kareem was named NBA Finals MVP.
The Los Angeles Lakers odds for a fifth straight NBA Finals appearance fizzled out when they fell to the Rockets in the 1986 Western finals, but the Lakers would roll through the postseason again, beating the Celtics in six games as Magic Johnson was named Finals MVP again. Johnson had also been named league MVP, while Michael Cooper won the Defensive Player of the Year award.
A bet on the Los Angeles Lakers the following season would be harrowing as the Lakers were taken to seven games by both the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks during the playoffs, and then the Lakers needed a triple-double from Finals MVP James Worthy to survive another Game seven.
It would be over a decade before the Lakers claimed another title, being swept by the Pistons in the 1990 Finals, despite an MVP year from Magic, while the team would fall to Michael Jordan and the Bulls in the Finals two seasons later. That November, Magic Johnson would announce he had tested positive for HIV and retired immediately from the NBA, though he would rerun eventually as a player, a coach, and an executive.
The Los Angeles Lakers odds would once again take a positive turn when they acquired rookie Kobe Bryant in 1996 and signed former Orlando Magic star center Shaquille O’Neal in free agency. Experts would immediately bet on the Los Angeles Lakers to win titles with their pair of superstars, but the Lakers were swept out of the 1998 conference finals by the Jazz and the 1999 playoffs by the Spurs.
The team then hired Phil Jackson, who had led the Chicago Bulls to six championships, and in Jackson’s first season in L.A. the team, led by regular season MVP Shaquille O’Neal, defeated the Pacers in six games as O’Neal was also named Finals MVP. The Lakers would roll through the 2001 postseason, losing just one game the entire playoffs, as they defeated Allen Iverson and the 76ers, with O’Neal winning another Finals MVP. Fans who bet on the Los Angeles Lakers to pull off the three-peat were rewarded when the team swept the New Jersey Nets in the 2002 Finals as O’Neal claimed a third straight Finals MVP.
After losing to the Spurs in 2003, the Los Angeles Lakers odds to win another title were extremely strong when they added veteran stars Karl Malone and Gary Payton in 2004, but the team lost to the Pistons in five games. The team traded O’Neal after the season and Phil Jackson left as head coach. The team rebuilt behind Kobe Bryant and big man Pau Gasol, and made the 2008 NBA Finals behind Bryant’s MVP season, though they fell to the Celtics in six games. Bryant would finally break through in 2009 without O’Neal leading the Lakers to the title, defeating the Orlando Magic by five games as he was named Finals MVP. Bryant would repeat as Finals MVP the following season when the team avenged their loss to the Celtics, winning in seven games.
After being swept by the Spurs in 2013, things bottomed out for the Lakers, as they missed the playoffs for six straight seasons, with Bryant retiring midway through the stretch. The Lakers would immediately return to prominence when they signed one of the best players of all time, Lebron James, as a free agent and traded for star center Anthony Davis.
Though they missed the 2019 playoffs after an injury plagued season, the Lakers were the league’s best team in 2019-20, rolling through the regular season, which was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but picking up in the bubble in Orlando, where the team knocked off the Blazers, Rockets, and Nuggets, before defeating the Miami Heat in six games, with James being named Finals MVP.
The team suffered injuries to Davis and James in 2021, and as a result, the team earned the No. 7 seed in the playoffs, losing in the first round to eventual Western Conference champion Phoenix in six games. The Lakers, adding to their star power, traded for Russell Westbrook for the 2021-22 season.
Championships: 17 (1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1972, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988. 2000. 2001. 2002. 2009, 2010, 2020)
8: Kobe Bryant
13: Wilt Chamberlain
22; Elgin Baylor
24: Kobe Bryant
25: Gail Goodrich
32: Magic Johnson
33: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
34: Shaquille O’Neal
42: James Worthy
44: Jerry West
52: Jamaal Wilkes