'No Better Than the Trail Blazers': Charles Barkley Slams Lakers' Chances of Success This Season

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers high fives Rajon Rondo #9 during a preseason game against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center on October 2 in Los Angeles, California. Harry How/Getty Images

From the moment LeBron James swapped Cleveland for Los Angeles in the summer, speculation over what the Lakers will achieve this season has been one of the central themes of the NBA offseason.

Data compiled by OddShark shows the bookmakers have installed the Lakers as the fourth-favorite to win the title this season, with three different bookmakers offering 11/1 (+1,100 in moneyline terms) odds on the 16-time NBA champions.

Only the Warriors, the Rockets and the Celtics are ahead of the Lakers, with odds of 1/2, 9/2 and 11/2 respectively.

Charles Barkley, however, clearly isn't buying the hype about the Lakers and believes they will just about reach the playoffs, something they have failed to do since 2013.

"I think obviously he's the greatest basketball player in the world today, but the problem is that team is not very good," he told ESPN.

"The Lakers are not a contender. They're probably a five or sixth seed in the West, but they're going to be getting a lot of attention."

While LeBron's arrival is obviously a major coup for the Lakers, doubts surrounding the supporting cast they have assembled around him have been well publicized over the past three months.

LeBron was expected to be joined in California by another superstar, with Paul George and Kawhi Leonard thought to be the leading candidates back in July. However, neither will play in California next season, and there have been some criticizing the Lakers' recruitment this summer.

Instead, the Lakers have opted to bring back Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and sign Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Michael Beasley.

Even considering LeBron has taken the Cavs to four consecutive NBA Finals almost by himself, this current Lakers roster looks ill-equipped to cope with what promises to be a very competitive Western Conference.

"In my opinion, they're not even as good as the San Antonio Spurs," Barkley added.

"I think the Spurs, with DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus healthy all year, the Spurs are better. I think Oklahoma City is probably better now that they got rid of Carmelo. And the Rockets are better […] I think the Rockets are the second-best team in the West, and then I think it's a toss-up between Oklahoma City and the Spurs. Listen, no disrespect to the Lakers, but I'm not even sure they're better than the Portland Trail Blazers."

In Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart, the Lakers have one of the most promising young cores in the league but Barkley insisted it would take time for them to adapt at playing with LeBron.

"LeBron is great, but it's going to take those young guys at least a year to adjust to playing with LeBron," the 11-time All-Star said.

"Those guys have all played with the ball their entire career. LeBron is a scorer who has to have the ball. It's not just going to click right away.

"So I think the Lakers are going to have some growing pains, and by the time they get through the season, they're going to be the fifth or sixth seed."