Can LeBron James capture his fourth NBA Championship with the league restart in Orlando this month? Analytics site FiveThirtyEight believes that his Los Angeles Lakers are a pretty strong favorite to do so.
22 teams will be battling for the 16 NBA Playoff spots in Orlando. Nine teams will play for the eight seeds in the Eastern Conference, while 13 different teams have reported to the "bubble" in the Western Conference. There will be a short series between the eighth and ninth seeds in each conference if they are within four games after the end of the eight-game regular season restart.
Right now, FiveThirtyEight gives just eight of those 22 teams a 1-percent or better chance of taking home the NBA title. That list is split evenly between the two conferences. The Lakers stand out above the rest, though.
FiveThirtyEight has LeBron and the Los Angeles with a 31-percent chance to win the title. That is ahead of the Clippers (23-percent), Milwaukee Bucks (15-percent), and Philadelphia 76ers (14-percent). The Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets each have a 7-percent chance, while the Toronto Raptors (2-percent), and Denver Nuggets (1-percent) are the last two teams included in the eight "contenders."
The projections also believe that 15 teams are relatively locked in to playoff spots. Those eight teams, as well as the Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz, Miami Heat, and Indiana Pacers are sitting near 100-percent to advance to the postseason. The Dallas Mavericks, Orlando Magic, and Brooklyn Nets each sit at 95-percent or better.
Winning a fourth title with his third different team would help bolster LeBron James' all-time legacy. While he probably still has a ways to go to match Michael Jordan in the eyes of many, it would be very hard to argue against him being in a very small top tier.
NBA games are scheduled to return on July 30.