With LeBron James joining the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason, almost everyone expects the Lakers to return to the playoffs.
However, according to ESPN’s Kevin Pelton, a return to the playoffs may be a little too ambitious for the new-look Lakers side. Pelton has used Real Plus-Minus projections that have the Lakers on the outside of the Top 8 teams in the Western Conference.
The Western Conference is clearly a lot more stacked than the Eastern Conference, meaning there’s a serious possibility of LeBron to miss out on playing in the post season for the first time since the 2004-05 season.
Pelton still believes that the Lakers can still make the playoffs if LeBron’s RPM doesn’t fall as much as it’s expected to at his new club. It’s expected that LeBron’s RPM may fall as low as plus-2.7 which would be an enormous difference from his 2017-18 average of plus-5.0 last season.
“If James drops only to a plus-4.0, the Lakers would move into eighth, and even if this projection is accurate for all teams, they would still probably be better than 50-50 bets to make the playoffs because somebody else falls out, so RPM isn’t necessarily calling them a lottery team.”
It’s almost unimaginable to have a Playoffs Series without LeBron, for an athlete who is so dominant in any postseason, it would be a huge loss to not having The King there next season.
Pelton has predicted both the Warriors and the Raptors to finish on top of both the Eastern and Western Conferences with a surprise team in the form of the Jazz to finish as high as second in the West.