With the massive roster improvements they made last summer, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers are currently emerging as the top favorite NBA teams to dethrone the Golden State Warriors in the deep Western Conference in the 2019-20 NBA season. However, according to Jack Maloney of CBS Sports, between the two Los Angeles teams, SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh gave the Lakers a better chance of fully dominating the Western Conference and meet the Giannis Antetokounmpo-led Milwaukee Bucks in the 2020 NBA Finals.
“The Lakers and the Clippers were expected to be the favorites in the West heading into the season, and after great starts for both teams, the projections see that holding true,” Maloney wrote. “With LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the way, the Lakers are 7-2, and the simulations have them as the favorites to win not only the West (36.64 percent) but the championship as well (25.7 percent). As for the Clippers, they’re still without Paul George, but have started out 6-3. They have the second-best chance to win both the West (31.08 percent) and the title (20.9 percent).”
On paper, the potential return of George is expected to make the Clippers a more dangerous team on both ends of the floor. However, compared to the Lakers’ superstar duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who are starting to live up to expectations as the best tandem in the league, it still remains a big question mark if George and reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard can coexist on the Clippers.
In the two years he spent with Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, George established a better performance when running a one-man show, which could be a major problem for the Clippers. If George and Leonard don’t mesh well, chances are the Lakers will become the representatives of the Western Conference in the 2020 NBA Finals.
Unlike in the Western Conference, however, only one NBA team is being considered as the heavy favorite to win the battle for Eastern Conference supremacy in the current season — the Bucks. This is not a surprise, as Antetokounmpo is once again wreaking havoc in the league. In 10 games, the 24-year-old power forward is posting MVP numbers, averaging 29.7 points, 14.3 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 1.6 blocks, and 1.3 steals while shooting 58.5 percent from the field and 30.8 percent from beyond the arc.
However, Antetokounmpo and the Bucks only have the third-best odds to win the title. In Oh’s projections, the Bucks received a 15.7 percent chance of bringing home the Larry O’Brien trophy, while the Lakers got 25.7 percent.