After starting their 2022-23 season with an abysmal 2-10 record and barely making it to the NBA playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers performed when they needed to and ultimately made it to last year’s Western Conference Finals — where they were swept by the Denver Nuggets. In 2023-24, the Lakers are surely expecting to produce a more consistent, stable season that will not only lead them to back to the Western Conference Finals, but beyond that, as well. And as with every other season for the Purple & Gold, the standard is NBA Championship or bust. Only time will tell whether they’ll get there.
In this season preview, we’ll examine the Lakers 2023-24 team roster, their key matchups, predictions, and the challenges they’ll have to hurdle in order to win the franchise’s 17th NBA title.
Significant Roster Changes
The Los Angeles Lakers couldn’t ask for a better duo to lead their team heading into this season. I’m talking about Lebron James and Anthony Davis, of course. While James is set to enter his 21st NBA season and will turn 39 in December, he isn’t showing too much wear and tear. So long as he remains healthy throughout the grueling regular season — which is a major ‘if’ — he’ll likely produce at his normal GOAT level and make his teammates around him perform at their peak.
Anthony Davis is the Lakers’ X-Factor. When he’s playing well, the team wins games — and when he isn’t performing up to par (or is sidelined due to injury), the team struggles. For both Davis and LeBron James, the most important thing they can do all season is remain healthy. Both players will likely sit out some games during the regular season in order to stay rested for the playoffs. And as long as they produce the way we know they can when they’re on the court, the Lakers are primed to piece together another deep playoff run.
But the Lakers’ two-headed monster will have to rely on some fresh faces this season. After departing with Russell Westbrook and Patrick Beverley during last season and adding Rui Hachimura, D’Angelo Russell, and Jarred Vanderbilt at the trade deadline, these new additions now have a full offseason to gel with James and Davis. Some more roster moves include resigning Austin Reaves and adding role players like Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince, and Jaxson Hayes. Overall, Lakers GM Rob Pelinka did a great job of adding depth to his team’s bench prior to this season, which should allow the Lakers to win more games when James and Davis are resting. As for the Lakers’ starting five, expect to see D’Angelo Russell playing point guard, Austin Reaves at shooting guard, then Lebron, Rui Hachimura, and Anthony Davis in the frontcourt.
Now that we’ve analyzed the Lakers’ current roster, let’s unpack their key matchups for the 2023-24 regular season.
2023-24 Lakers Key Matchups/Dates
Lakers game days against Nuggets: Oct. 24 (Season Opener, Away), Feb. 8 (Home), March 2 (Home)
The Lakers start the season with a challenging matchup against the Denver Nuggets, who swept them in last year’s Western Conference Finals before going on to win the NBA Finals. After that sweep, Lakers’ head coach Darvin Ham called Denver the “Lakers’ daddy”, which should motivate his team heading into 2023-24.
Of course, any contests with world-class players like LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray is almost guaranteed to excite. So NBA fans will be treated to a rare spectacle with the 2023-24 NBA season kicks off with the Nuggets and Lakers battling on October 24th.
Lakers game days against Suns: Oct. 26 (Home Opener), Nov. 10 (Away), Jan. 11 (Home), Feb. 25 (Away)
Another challenging opponent for the Lakers will be the Phoenix Suns. The Suns have assembled a star-studded lineup, featuring Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and new addition Bradley Beal. This team’s offensive firepower will put pressure on opposing defenses throughout the season. In addition, LeBron James and Kevin Durant have faced off in multiple NBA Finals, and a potential playoff series between their respective teams would add an extra layer of drama. The regular-season matchups between the Lakers and the Suns will likely be crucial in determining the ultimate playoff seeding.
Golden State Warriors
Lakers game days against Warriors: Jan. 27 (Away), Feb. 22 (Away), March 16 (Home), April 9 (Home)
The Lakers and Warriors have had some epic battles over the years. Of course, the aforementioned NBA Finals matchups between Kevin Durant and LeBron James came when Durant was on the Warriors; and aside from Durant, Golden State Warriors still has their core intact (Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green) from those Finals teams. Both LeBron and the Lakers as a whole are very familiar with their fellow California foes — and familiarity breeds contempt (and thrill).
An interesting caveat to the Lakers and Warriors matchups in 2023-24 is that their first contest doesn’t occur until January 27th, which is after the season’s halfway point. This means that Los Angeles and Golden State will see a lot of each other during the season’s second half, when both teams will be at increased risk of injury and likely resting players more often.
Lakers game days against Kings: Oct. 29 (Away), Nov. 15 (Home), March 6 (Home), March 13 (Away)
Another California foe the Lakers must heed this season are the Sacramento Kings. While the Kings have been NBA bottom-dwellers for nearly two decades, they’ve recently emerged as one of the Western Conference’s top teams. Led by De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk, the Kings bolster a young, athletic, and talented roster that is likely to improve upon last year’s already impressive 48-34 regular season record. The Lakers also went 1-3 against the Kings last season. Sacramento’s one downside to this point is that they haven’t replicated their regular season success in the playoffs just yet — but that seems fated to change eventually. Los Angeles will do everything in their power to ensure that doesn’t occur this season.
Lakers game days against Celtics: Dec. 25 (Home), Feb. 1 (Away)
Who can forget the NBA’s most legendary rivalry? Each year, matchups between the Lakers and Boston Celtics captivate the entire NBA. This year will surely be no different — especially because these two teams will square off on Christmas! In what’s the best basketball day of the year, fans will be treated to see the 16-time NBA Champion Lakers face the 17-time NBA Champion Celtics. What could be better than that?
Lakers Season Forecast
Now that we’ve recognized the Lakers’ most important matchups of the 2023-24 regular season, let’s discuss their season forecast.
There are two ways to assess the Lakers’ 2023-24 potential. On one hand, the Lakers made significant improvements last season, reaching the Western Conference Finals and have appeared to add crucial depth their roster during the offseason. With LeBron James defying age expectations year after year and Anthony Davis’s continued excellence, the Lakers could make another deep playoff run. However, it’s important to acknowledge that last season’s success was not without its challenges. In fact, they were one close-call away from losing in the play-in tournament and missing the playoffs entirely. Plus the highly competitive Western Conference poses a significant challenge to the Lakers’ championship aspirations.
Yet, the Lakers have LeBron James, who is arguably the best basketball player of all time. The team’s added depth will allow Anthony Davis to manage his minutes more effectively, and be fresher in the postseason as a result. The addition of key role players and the motivation to avenge their playoff loss to the Nuggets will hopefully motivate the Lakers enough to improve on their sub-par (for their standards) regular season, which will afford a favorable Western Conference matchup in the first round of the playoffs.
Overall, the Lakers most important factor is health. So long as they can stay relatively healthy throughout the regular season and playoffs, then they’ll remain a top contender to win the NBA Finals in June 2024.
Record Prediction: 47-35 regular season record, loss in the Western Conference Semi-Finals
FanDuel currently has the Los Angeles Lakers listed as +1500 to win the 2024 NBA Championship. While those odds seem overly steep to me, I still don’t expect the Lakers to make it past the Western Conference Semi-Finals, and here’s why: LeBron James and Anthony Davis will require ample rest throughout the regular season, which will cost the team some wins. I do expect them to improve on their 43-39 regular season record, but only by four games. This will likely make them a #4 or #5 seed in the playoffs. From there, I expect the Lakers’ experience to win their first round series — which will then have them facing the West’s #1 seeded team in the next round (which I predict will be the Phoenix Suns or Denver Nuggets). I’d expect the Lakers to fall against either of these teams. They’re both younger, have better players in their primes, and will be highly motivated to take LeBron’s Lakers down. This is why I predict the Lakers will lose in the Western Conference Semi-Finals.
But LeBron James has defied expectations time and time again. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has one more NBA Championship in him before retiring. The Lakers roster is talented enough to help him do so, and their front office always seems to make the right moves during the season to improve their roster. If they’re able to add one more All-Star caliber player during the season, they could very well win the 2024 NBA Finals.
Regardless the Purple and Gold are ready to embark on their quest for another NBA title. So get ready for an action-packed season filled with thrilling matchups, intense rivalries, and the relentless pursuit of basketball greatness. Let’s all make sure to enjoy LeBron James while he’s still around — because he might not be for much longer.
The Lakers began their 2022-23 season with a 2-10 record but made it to the NBA playoffs and reached the Western Conference Finals, where they were defeated by the Denver Nuggets.
The primary leaders of the Lakers team for this season are LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The Lakers parted ways with Russell Westbrook and Patrick Beverley and added Rui Hachimura, D’Angelo Russell, and Jarred Vanderbilt. They also resigned Austin Reaves and brought in role players like Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince, and Jaxson Hayes.
They have crucial matchups against Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, and Boston Celtics.
The Denver Nuggets swept them in the previous season’s Western Conference Finals and won the NBA Finals. The season kicks off with a face-off between these two teams.
- Andrew Wiggins Stats: Height, Weight, Position, Draft Status - December 4, 2023
- Stephen Curry Stats: Height, Weight, Position, Draft Status - December 1, 2023
- Domantas Sabonis Stats: Height, Weight, Position, Draft Status - December 1, 2023