Despite the Lakers playing under a new coaching staff, experiencing several roster changes and learning a new system, Kobe Bryant has continually touted the Lakers as championship contenders. Bryant may have said this to convince himself, motivate his teammates or simply persuade the public. The Las Vegas oddsmakers aren't sold.
Jay Kornegay, director of the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, tabs the Lakers as the fifth choice to win the NBA title (12-to-1) behind the Miami Heat (7-5), Chicago Bulls (7-2), Oklahoma City Thunder (4-to-1) and San Antonio Spurs (5-to-1). MGM Mirage's race and sports director Jay Rood has attached different odds, but has kept the same order for the Heat (5-6), Bulls (2-1), Thunder (5-2), Spurs (3-1) and Lakers (5-1).
Don't hurl your pitchforks at the oddsmakers. They're simply assessing how the public will bet their money rather than actually assessing whether that prediction will pan out. And the returns suggest an interesting dynamic.
"They're not going to surprise anyone if they lose in the first round," Kornegay said. "The Nuggets could beat them. It might be an upset, but it wouldn't be surprising. On the other hand, they could easily rally."