Lakers have more national TV games than half the NBA combined in league’s new schedule

The first half of the NBA’s 2020-21 season schedule is out, and you will not be surprised to hear the league has opted to give the Lakers more national TV games than any other team.

By Pro Basketball Talk’s count, the Lakers will have 16 of their first 37 games on either ABC, ESPN or TNT to open the season, two more than any other team in the NBA. That total reaches 23 if you add the seven games on NBA TV, which wasn’t counted in the schedule census.

Behind the Lakers is a four-way tie for second with 14 each between the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans and Golden State Warriors.

On the other side of the spectrum are six teams with a whopping zero such games: the Cleveland Cavaliers, Sacramento Kings, Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and Washington Wizards.

With five more teams having only one game, and three others with two, three and four each, that means the Lakers have more games on ABC, ESPN or TNT than literally half the NBA combined.

Lakers lead NBA’s national TV slate

One team having more national appearances than half the league is wild, though looking at the chart above illustrates that the NBA at least managed to keep some teams within striking distance. If anything, this is less illustrative of how much the Lakers have than how many teams are simply have-nots in today’s NBA.

Still, it is not at all surprising the NBA put the Lakers on national television so many times. That’s only natural when the league’s most popular team has the league’s most popular player and is coming off a championship.

Hopes are high for a Lakers title repeat as well after a strong offseason, in which the team added the likes of Marc Gasol, Montrezl Harrell, Dennis Schroder and Wes Matthews. Essentially, the team has either retained or capably replaced every player of note on its championship team.

The Lakers’ season will kick off on Opening Night on Dec. 22, where they will face their crosstown rival Los Angeles Clippers on TNT. Three days later, it’s another national game with their Christmas matchup against Dallas and rising superstar Luka Doncic.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 03: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers stands on the court in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first half at Staples Center on March 03, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 03: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers stands on the court in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first half at Staples Center on March 03, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
LeBron James, Los Angeles and a reigning champ will get you on a lot of television screens. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

It’s worth reiterating that this is only half of the NBA’s schedule, so the national TV slate could very well balance out in the second half. The Wizards in particular could see some more national games after adding Russell Westbrook, and you have to figure some of the other one- or zero-game teams could surprise.

But for now, this clearly remains the Lakers’ league.

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