L.A. Lakers at Charlotte
Time: 6 PM CT, NBA LP
Spread: CHA -2
Odds c/o 5dimes
The L.A. Lakers took a while to hit stride, but now the team is playing like a typical LeBron James-led team. That is to say, it is winning, and a lot. The Lakers have won six of its past eight games to improve to 17-11 on the season, and everything seems to be falling into place for James’ Lakers. James is averaging 28 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 7.1 assists per game, while his top teammate has been Kyle Kuzma.
The second-year forward emerged as one of the steals of the 2017 draft, and he has been fairly strong for the Lakers in averaging just under 18 points per game while shooting 32 percent on his 5.7 threes per game.
The Lakers attempt 30.4 triples per contest while connecting on 35 percent. The overall field goal percentage is an impressive 47.4 for the team, and the Lakers average 113.1 points per game, ranking No. 9 in the Association. Its defense has improved but is still no better than middle-of-the-pack in holding teams to 110.9 per game.
Over its last two games though, it has allowed just 105 points to the Miami Heat in a victory and it held Memphis to just 88 points two games ago. Those signs are positive for the Lakers, and it stands to reason that LAL will be in the mix with the top teams in the Western Conference given its recent improvements and overall high talent level on the roster.
The Charlotte Hornets are a team that has been on the cusp of the playoffs the past several seasons, but it simply cannot manage to break through. We have speculated that perhaps moving past its best player is in its best interest, but the Hornets would have to obtain some major talents to part with Kemba Walker at this point. Nicolas Batum is an outstanding two-way talent, but he is also known to disappear. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist may never be a statistical monster, but the Hornets are best with his defensive talents and intangibles on the court.
?Similar can even be said about power forward Marvin Williams, notwithstanding his disappointing career after having been a No. 2 overall pick at one point. Cody Zeller is not physically imposing, but he is a deceiving athlete and better than most credit him for. Perhaps the most interesting thing on this team is what it might seek to do with veteran Tony Parker.
Parker gives Walker a chance to play off the ball more, where the explosive Kemba is definitely at his best. It will mean less playmaking for Batum, but the Hornets never seemed to make the most of what Nicolas Batum is capable of at any rate. The bench is weak, even welcoming back Bismack Biyombo, who returns to the Hornets after having played in Toronto and Orlando, and mostly disappointing. He did have one outstanding playoff run with the Raptors, but outside of earning him a super bloated contract, it seemed to do little towards propelling him towards any major role.
Wisconsin product Frank Kaminsky is a defensive dud, but he has shooting range and will keep opposing 5-men honest in second units. Overall, this team probably struggles to reach the 30-win mark and lands plus or minus right at it. We are going to go ahead and PUSH this right back to the dealer, as it is just a team without enough upside to feel confident betting the over, but with still too much talent to expect it to utterly tank and fall far below that 30-win mark. Charlotte appears to be stuck in limbo, if one is being honest about its prospects for improvement.