This season started promising for the young L.A. Lakers, but things have been spiraling downward for a while and probably won't get better any time soon. Thus I wouldn't recommend backing one of the worst ATS teams in the league.
The Los Angeles Lakers used to be the NBA's marquee franchise, the one of Mikan, Wilt, the Logo (Jerry West), Kareem, Magic, Kobe, the Zen Master. A total of 16 championships, second only to the rival Boston Celtics. However, the Lakers haven't sniffed finishing with a winning record since 2012-13, and they aren't going to this year, either.
Rock-bottom was perhaps achieved Sunday when the Lakers were destroyed 122-73 at Dallas, which isn't very good itself. It was the worst loss in Lakers history -- the team has been around since 1947. The previous worst loss was 48 points: a 123-75 defeat to the Utah Jazz last season and a 142-94 defeat to the Clippers in 2014. Sunday was the fifth time in less than three years that the Lakers have lost by 40 points; the franchise had suffered four such losses before 2013-14. The team was down 34 at halftime, its biggest margin trailing at the break ever. The Lakers had just 11 second-quarter points, their lowest-scoring period of the season. They were 4-for-17 from the field in the quarter and turned it over five times. Dallas outscored the Lakers by 27 in the second.
“We didn't show up to play, honestly, which is frustrating,” coach Luke Walton said. “And honestly it's embarrassing — for us as a team, for us as an organization, for our Lakers fans that are so good to us.”
When the Lakers started 7-5, Walton was being talked about as an early Coach of the Year favorite. Now the team is 16-32 and 20-27-1 ATS on NBA odds. The Dallas embarrassment came exactly 11 years to the day that Kobe Bryant had his 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors. So, yeah, he scored eight more points that night than the Lakers did as a team Sunday.
Perhaps the best statistical line that summed up the Lakers' play against the Mavericks was rookie Brandon Ingram, who does have All-Star potential down the road but is simply overmatched at times. The 2016 No. 2 overall pick out of Duke had a plus/minus rating that was a fairly incredible minus-45. He was 2-for-12 from the field for six points with five fouls and three turnovers.
Ingram started at point guard because D'Angelo Russell, the No. 2 overall pick in 2015, is going to miss a week or two with a mild MCL strain and a calf strain. Russell is averaging 14.3 points (second on team) and 4.4 assists (first). It's now pretty clear the Lakers made a huge mistake not taking Kristaps Porzingis over Russell at that spot. The Knicks snapped Porzingis up at No. 4.
You definitely don't want to be betting the Lakers when they are on the road as they are an ugly 5-19 away from home -- only the sad-sack Nets have fewer home wins -- and 9-15 ATS on NBA picks. The Lakers play nine of their next 11 on the road, including both games this week: Wednesday at Portland and Thursday at Utah. The Blazers are 2-0 vs. L.A. this season and the Jazz are 3-0.
There is one bright spot should the Lakers continue to lose. They get to keep their 2017 draft pick if it's in the Top 3; if it isn't, the Philadelphia 76ers get it. You don't want to be losing your first-round pick in this year's draft as it's thought to be one of the best in years in terms of talent. The Lakers currently have the fourth-worst record in the NBA.