Lebron James reportedly spends over $1mm each year on his health and it’s paid off. The 18-year NBA veteran has hardly been injured throughout his career, which is impressive considering he plays downhill, is tough and physical, and is now 36-years- old. However, this season James is facing some adversity as he suffered a high ankle sprain against the Atlanta Hawks and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.
With that said, the Lakers will need to weather the storm without their superstar forward to ensure they don’t fall behind in the race to be the #1 seed in the west during the playoffs. Furthermore, oddsmakers have been forced to adjust their odds given James is a big part of the team’s success. As such, future odds have been impacted across several sportsbooks.
NBA MVP Odds
Prior to suffering his injury, James was arguably in the top 2 for the MVP race second to Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, who coincidentally is also injured with a knee-related injury. The two former frontrunners are now behind Denver Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic in terms of who is favored to win the NBA MVP this season. Jokes’ odds have improved as he is now a +110 favorite to win versus Lebron James who is now +600 (and Embiid who is +550).
During the preseason many sportsbooks saw action on James to win his 5th regular-season MVP award. For instance, at BetMGM (where you can use the BetMGM Bonus Code: Today for $600 Risk-Free) James received 27% of the tickets and 31% of the money. If James can recover quickly, which given his commitment to health and fitness seems possible, those who bet James to win MVP may not be hopeless after all. Leading a team to top 3 seed in the west at age 36 is unprecedented, plus, James is statistically still one of the best players in the league.
NBA Championship Future Odds
In addition to the MVP race, James’ injury has also forced many sportsbooks to adjust their NBA futures odds. You will now find that most books are banking on the Brooklyn Nets winning the title this year given James’ ankle woes and the recent success of the Nets.
The Nets are playing good basketball, which started shortly before the All-Star break. They are still navigating Kevin Durant’s back injury but they did add an important inside piece in power forward Blake Griffin and still have Kyrie Irving and James Harden on the outside.
Some sportsbooks are a bit more optimistic when it comes to the Lakers and likely believe that James will fully recover and rejoin his teammates, which includes all-star forward Anthony Davids, just in time for a strong playoff push.
William Hill’s legal US sports betting app, still has the Lakers favored with their NBA Finals odds at +260 but the Nets are a close second at +280. At DraftKings, the Nets and Lakers are even at +285.
Ultimately, fans will have to wait and see how James’ injury unfolds and sports bettors and sportsbooks will likely be playing strong attention to both him and Durant to see how healthy they are at the start of the playoffs.