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Who'll Do Better—LeBron And The Lakers Or Kawhi's Clippers?

by Travis Pulver
August 22nd 2019, 6:32pm

When the 2019-20NBA season begins, all eyes are going to be locked in on the city of Los Angeles. Fans are going to be eager to see which of the new super teams is going to be able to live up to the hype - LeBron James and the Lakers or Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers.

But as much as we may want to see whether each team is going to be as good as expected, there is something else fans will want to debate—who is better?


The Clippers are currently the favorite to win the NBA Championship at +330 (Lakers are +440), so does that mean they are the king of Los Angeles?

Of course not. But it will be something fans can and will be debating until the season starts and one of them is crowned champion.

However, until that day comes next summer, DraftKings is offering a few different wagers that should help spark debate amongst LA basketball fans:

Who is going to win more games (excluding playoffs)?

  • Lakers                 +155
  • Clippers               -200

Oddsmakers have kind of helped answer this question or us already when they set the odds on projected win totals for the coming season; the Lakers total is set at 51.5 and the Clippers 56.5.  Of course, which way you bet will depend on whether you think one or the other will cover the over.

It may be safe to assume both could cover the over based on how they played last season. The Lakers managed to win 37 games with LeBron James only playing in 55.

While the roster still lacks depth, it does have more shooters than it had last year. With a healthy LeBron and Anthony Davis running the show, it is not hard to imagine the Lakers winning 52 or 53 games.

Then again, this is also assuming everyone stays healthy. LeBron isn’t getting any younger and has only played in all 82 games once during his career. Davis has never played in more than 75 during his.

As for the Clipper, they won 48 games last season without a superstar. Now that they have two and still have an excellent roster, it is not hard to imagine them winning 58 games.

Take the Clippers.  

Who will advance further in the 2019/2020 NBA Playoffs?

  • Lakers                 +115
  • Clippers               -139

Both are definitely expected to make the playoffs (Clippers: Yes -3335; Lakers Yes -670), but the Clippers are expected to finish with the No. 1 seed. The Lakers, based on their odds to win the conference relative to other teams, are going to finish as the No. 5 seed.

Why is this relevant? Because it means the Lakers are going to have a much tougher road than the Clippers making it easier for them. Since the Lakers depth is not nearly as good as the Clippers, it is more likely that the Clippers will advance further.

Again—take the Clippers.

LeBron James vs. Kawhi Leonard—Most average points per game in the regular season

  • LeBron James   -150
  • Kawhi Leonard +120

This question is a little harder to answer.

If you just look at last season’s numbers, they were less than a point apart; James averaged 27.4 while Leonard averaged 26.6. It was a new career-high for Leonard and an increase of 1.1 points a game off his last full season in San Antonio (2016-17; 25.5 points/game). But for James, it was par for the course as he was just .1 of a point off his last season in Cleveland.  

Both were surrounded by a good cast last season and will be surrounded by a good one this season with one significant difference—an additional superstar. As much as they may want to score, they will have to take their fellow superstar’s needs into consideration as well.

Not counting last season when Davis was not as motivated to play well, he averaged 28.1 and 28.0 points the previous two seasons. George, in his last season with the Thunder, averaged 28 points a game (second to only James Harden). While he was playing with another superstar in Russell Westbrook, Westbrook willingly took a back seat to George; Leonard may not do the same.

With all the scorers that Leonard will be playing with (Lou Williams, Patrick Beverly, Montrezl Harrell, and George) it would not be shocking to see Leonard’s scoring go down while LeBron’s will go up.

Take LeBron.