NBA: Way-too-early bold pre-season playoff predictions for the 2023-24 season

NBA Jayson Tatum (Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports)
NBA Jayson Tatum (Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Darvin Ham
Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports) /

Western Conference 5th seed

5. Los Angeles Lakers

When trying to predict where the Los Angeles Lakers would finish in the Western Conference, there was a lot that needed to be contemplated. And quite frankly, it was almost impossible to confidently predict the answers to any of those questions/concerns. For one, how is LeBron James going to look? I think it’s a legitimate question. He’s going to be 39 years old in a couple of months and who knows if this is finally the year where Father Time is going to finally bear down on him.

Secondly, is this finally the year where Anthony Davis is going to be able to remain healthy for an extended period of time? Is Austin Reaves going to emerge as a consistent and dependable third option for the Lakers? Will their retooled supporting cast prove to be good enough to help this team take a step up in the regular season compared to last year?

In the end, I decided to meet in the middle. Short of everything falling right for the Lakers, I believe it’s fair to pencil them in as the 5th seed in the Western Conference. If they can enter the playoffs healthy, they’ve got as good of a shot as any other team to win the West.