On the Thursday the NBA officially released its schedule for all 30 teams. For the Los Angeles Lakers this meant the reveal of the Lakers’ opening night contest against the Houston Rockets as well as a Christmas Night rematch against the Clippers.
With the NBA having relatively balanced schedules and each team playing each other at least twice there isn’t a huge gap in schedule strength between the 30 teams, but there is one nonetheless. Unfortunately for the Lakers, they did not benefit from the release.
According to Jared Dubin, the Lakers have the toughest schedule in the NBA based on last year’s records:
Strength of schedule rankings for all 30 NBA teams: Overall, Pre/Post-ASG (with differential), and by month. pic.twitter.com/s0wZSBhvrw
— Yaya Dubin (@JADubin5) August 12, 2016
ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle (Insider) also ranked the toughest schedules based on his own equations and calculations and listed the Lakers as the fourth toughest, believing their schedule layout will make them four losses worse than originally projected:
4. Los Angeles Lakers (4.37 extra losses)
The Lakers share the same divisional reality as the Suns with some added complications. Just three of the Lakers’ 16 back-to-backs finish at home.
Doolittle’s projections are a little more intricate as they take into account things like home and road games and back-to-backs. Regardless of the specifics however, the Lakers being at or near the top remains the same. The Lakers sharing a division with two of the NBA’s top teams in the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers certainly doesn’t help matters either.
The schedule makers didn’t do the Lakers any favors to begin the season. After hosting the Rockets in their season opener, the Lakers hit the road for four straight games against teams that won at least 40 games last season, before returning home to host the Warriors.
Both head coach Luke Walton and rookie Brandon Ingram have spoken about this season not being about wins and losses, but rather progression. Even though the Lakers are motivated by experts overlooking them this season, their schedule has not helped them in their quest to prove people wrong.