If you treat the NBA futures market as a real financial investment opportunity, then keep an eye on both pro basketball teams in Los Angeles. When it comes to futures for the 2023 NBA championship, you should “buy” the Los Angeles Clippers with the return of Kawhi Leonard and “sell” the Los Angeles Lakers if Russell Westbrook is not traded in the offseason.
The Clippers finished ninth in the Western Conference, 42-40, without Kawhi and Paul George, who missed significant time with an elbow injury. The Clippers qualified for the Western Conference Play-In tournament but were eliminated by the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Lakers were a huge disappointment last season, finishing in 11th place with a 33–49 record. They played so badly that fans and trolls called the losers “Lakers wasting time.”
We’re not real financial advisors, but we love basketball and are well versed in what goes on behind the scenes in the City of Angels. Both the Lakers and Clippers failed to secure a spot in the 2022 NBA Playoffs, but both teams were crowned champions. aspirations for the 2022-23 season.
The Clippers are one of four favorites to win the 2023 NBA Championship at +600 odds — along with the newly crowned champion Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets — according to the NBA futures board at DraftKings.
The Lakers have a +2,000 chance of winning the 2023 championship, their second since LeBron James joined the team in 2019.
Clippers: Kawaii is back
Without two All-Stars, the Clippers still finished above .500. Tai Liu deserves credit for pushing the team to super-achievement without his two big dogs. Despite the COVID frenzy and other injuries, the Clippers winning 42 games are something to build on next season.
The Cardiac Clippers have not given up in the face of adversity. They have lost over 20 points several times, including 35 points against the Washington Wizards. When you have a roster loaded with 3-point shooters like Luke Kennard, the Clippers have never been out of the game if their shooters were hot.
The Clippers should upgrade the point guard position or stay with their platoon of Reggie Jackson and Terence Mann. Jackson has one more season on his contract while Mann is in his final season as a rookie. The steadfast Mann led the Clippers in 81 games, including 33 starts. He did a great job last season, averaging 10.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game off the bench.
The Clippers will also return to full strength Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington and Norman Powell. Powell – Kawhi’s former Raptors teammate – signed with the Portland Trail Blazers as a free agent, but the Blazers blew their team up and sent Powell to Los Angeles on a trade. Powell gives the Clippers a legitimate third opportunity to score after Kawhi and George.
We want the Clippers to win the title next season at +600 odds if Kawhi and PG-13 don’t miss a single moment due to new or old injuries. Kawhi has won titles with the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors and will try to win the third ring with the Clippers.
Show on the lake wasting time
The Lakers have three huge problems preventing them from winning another NBA championship: health, Russell Westbrook, and lack of depth.
Two big deals left the Lakers with a thin bench, except for the “big three” of LeBron, Anthony Davis and Westbrook. The team used their future to acquire Anthony Davis in exchange for the New Orleans Pelicans, and he missed more than half of the 2021-22 season. The Lakers lost all of their valuable players and spares when they acquired Westbrook last summer in exchange for the Washington Wizards. Without much help, the Lakers were a losing team, especially when LeBron and Davis missed time with injuries.
Anthony Davis only played 40 games last season and the big papier-mâché man missed more than half of the season. Meanwhile, LeBron has missed 26 games with multiple injuries, more than a quarter of the season.
At 37, LeBron missed out on a potential goalscoring title by averaging over 30 points per game for the third time in his illustrious career. He is second on the all-time top scorer list with only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar standing in his way of breaking the record. LeBron had to score a lot because he didn’t have much help.
If Davis and LeBron avoid injury this season, they could be in contention for the championship. But the Lakers may not even be the fifth best team in the Western Conference, with Kawhi back to the Clippers and Jamal Murray back to the Denver Nuggets. The Minnie Timberwolves are a promising team and the New Orleans Pelicans could do some damage if Zion Williamson can avoid IR.
Rob Pelinka, the Lakers’ general manager, was unable to trade Westbrook before the February deadline because the team had no tradable assets. The Lakers won the first round in a trade for Davis to the Pelicans. With three stars with a maximum contract, the Lakers’ payroll lacked attractive veterans with expiring contracts. Things were so bleak that the Lakers considered trading Westbrook for John Wall, but the Houston Rockets wanted a first-round pick to sweeten the deal.
Westbrook had a $47 million player option for the upcoming season, so the Lakers were stuck with him in the 2022-2023 season if they couldn’t find a team stupid enough to take him. And let’s be honest, very few teams are interested in doing any favors for the Lakers – especially LeBron.
Westbrook’s unwillingness to fit in with the Lakers’ offensive pattern led to head coach Frank Vogel being fired. Let’s see if new head coach Darwin Ham can convince Westbrook buy in any system rookie head coach moves to the Lakers. Ham was Mike Budenholzer’s right hand during his tenure with the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks. Ham won the ring as an assistant coach with the Bucks last season and it was only a matter of time before he finally landed the head coaching job. Ime Udoka led the Boston Celtics to the NBA Finals in his first season as head coach, so the Lakers are hoping Ham can repeat the rare feat for a rookie.
The Lakers may have to wait until early 2023 to trade Westbrook, but won’t it be too late?
With Westbrook and his $47 million weighing down the Lakers, it’s best not to get stuck with a worthless +2200 futures ticket.