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A look ahead on what to expect from the Eastern Conference this season
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NBA: Los Angeles Lakers season preview

The Lakers have been on a steady decline since winning the championship in the bubble in 2020. After missing the Play-offs entirely last season, will they be able to turn things around this season?

The Lakers couldn't even make the Play-in tournament last season, slumping to a dismal 11th place finish in the Western Conference.

An injury-hit year already ruined any title aspirations they had, but their dismal finish ended up costing coach Frank Vogel his job.

Darwin Ham is out to improve things this season and the Lakers have notably changed course with their signings.

However, they're still lumbered with Russell Westbrook while their other stars have injury concerns.

WhatNBA Season 2022/23
WhereUSA and Canada
When18th October 2022 - June 2023
How to watchSky Sports, NBA Pass, bet365's Sports Live Streaming
OddsBOS Celtics 21/4, GS Warriors 6/1, LA Clippers 7/1, MIL Bucks 15/2, BKN Nets 8/1

Out with the old for Lakers

The Lakers last season went with big-name, old players as depth. Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Trevor Ariza all joined as free agents to complement their core.

That approach was never going to work for a team with an ageing LeBron James and an injury-prone Anthony Davis. In the end, the older players were unable to carry the team.

The Lakers seem to have recognised their mistake as they've gone in a very different direction with their free agent signings this summer.

Lonnie Walker, Damian Jones and Troy Brown Jr have all arrived. They've also landed title-winner Juan Toscano-Anderson from the Golden State Warriors.

Those players are all likely to get minutes on the wing for the Lakers this term, enhancing the scoring threat of LeBron and AD while clearing space for a much-changed backcourt.

Backcourt tension could define their season

It's all change in the guard positions for the Lakers this offseason. They were unable to retain Malik Monk - one of last season's few bright spots - and they traded away Talen Horton-Tucker in the deal to land Patrick Beverley.

The Lakers also brought back Dennis Schroder, who averaged 15.4 points per game in 61 starts with LA in 20/21.

He was named in the All-Tournament team at EuroBasket this summer and those impressive displays seem to have secured his return to the Lakers.

Westbrook was their starting point guard last season and there are conflicting reports about what happens next with him. Beverley could lead their bench unit, leaving Westbrook to start alongside Schroder.

However, the team now have the option to start without the former MVP. That's a significant improvement on last season's options.

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Season rests on LeBron and AD

While the Lakers have better depth, their season rests on the shoulders of their big two - or possibly three.

Westbrook's future is unclear at the minute, but he got a raw deal last term as he only appeared with LeBron and AD 21 times - with the Lakers winning 11 of those.

There was an overreliance on the superstar pair, as LeBron averaged 37.2 minutes per game, with AD on 35.1.

Their improved depth should ease the strain on the duo in the regular season. If that helps them appear more, then it's worth it for the team.

Since winning the title, Davis has missed over half of the Lakers' games.

LeBron missed 26 games in a fantastic season for him personally. He averaged over 30 points per game, with 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists. Keeping him at that level with AD on the court is the answer for the Lakers, especially after addressing their ball-handling and shooting concerns. 

How the season starts

The Lakers tip-off on opening night, when they face off with the defending champion Golden State Warriors. Their start doesn't get any easier, as two nights later their first home game of the season comes against the LA Clippers.

With the Denver Nuggets and an improved Minnesota Timberwolves side also in their first five games, the Lakers face a difficult start.

Los Angeles Lakers 2022-23 expectations

The Lakers are priced at 1/3 to make up for last season's disappointment and return to the Play-offs, but it isn't going to be entirely straightforward. While they've made changes, so have many top sides in the West.

While the Utah Jazz are set to tank, the other sides from last season's top nine each look stronger this time around.

With the Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings aiming to return to the postseason this season could be a difficult one for the Lakers.

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