Las Vegas bookmakers currently has the Lakers at +400 odds to win the 2022 NBA champion, behind the other super team Brooklyn Nets at +240. Every other team starts at +900, so it looks like Vegas, along with the majority of fans, anticipate a Lakers versus Nets NBA Finals next June.

Recently, NBA Insider Marc Stein did his first power rankings on Substack and had the Lakers at a reasonable projection. The Lakers start at No. 3 behind the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks and Nets.

“I'm as skeptical as anyone about the fit of Russell Westbrook in the Lakers' new Big Three … as well as the potential spacing issues that stem from adding the likes of Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo and DeAndre Jordan on top of Westbrook and the pressure all of this heaps on coach Frank Vogel. But let's be clear here: The Anthony Davis slander in circulation is over the top and ill-advised. If AD bounces back well — and he should at 28 — this is your Western Conference favorite.”

Stein’s power rankings usually have the defending champions starting at No. 1 no matter the circumstance. Most of us believe that without the injuries to a multitude of superstars like James Harden and Anthony Davis, there would be a different defending champion. Many pundits have the Nets slightly over the 2020 champions, but that makes sense when you look at three top-8 players in the league at the prime, all playing together.

A lot of the Lakers’ success will depend on their ability to spread the floor and hit the three-ball at a consistent rate. Unlike last season, if Anthony Davis and LeBron James are at full strength come late April, they will have a great shot to win No. 18.