LeBron James has proven to be one of the most durable NBA players of all-time during his near two-decade pro career. But for just the second time since he entered the league in 2003, LeBron is out for an extended period of time due to injury.
A high ankle sprain suffered on March 20 against the Atlanta Hawks has put “The King” on the shelf.
The injury is extremely significant as it pertains to NBA title futures and MVP odds boards. The Lakers had been the favorite to capture the title at most top US sportsbooks before LeBron’s injury, and LeBron was at the top of most MVP boards.
Here is a look at where things stand currently with those odds, and a look at a timeline on when will LeBron be back and return to the court.
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When will LeBron be back and return to the Lakers?
Sports bettors, fantasy basketball players and – of course – Lakers fans are currently wondering when will LeBron be back? His return date is not yet set in stone, but we are starting to get a pretty good idea of a timetable.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on March 25 that LeBron would be out 3-5 more weeks. The absolute best case scenario is that LeBron will be back and return to the Lakers on Saturday, April 17.
- Four weeks from Saturday is April 24, when the Lakers have an away date at Dallas.
- Five weeks from Saturday is May 1, and the Lakers play the Raptors at Staples Center the next night.
LeBron was +160 at DraftKings Sportsbook, owning the lowest odds to win the MVP award, before his injury. He now has the fifth lowest odds (+1400), with Nikola Jokic taking over as the favorite at -145. Joel Embiid, who has also been banged up, is +450.
Best Lakers prices
The Brooklyn Nets are now the favorites to capture the 2021 NBA crown at most sportsbooks, though William Hill had both Brooklyn and the Lakers at +280 on March 27.
The Lakers certainly will be cautious with the injuries to LeBron and Anthony Davis (Achilles) and will be in no rush to bring them back into the fold. The goal, of course, if for their top two stars to be as close to 100% as possible when the NBA Playoffs begin in late May. The Purple and Gold will likely have to try and do so in the NBA Playoffs with less-than-ideal positioning in the Western Conference as they are currently the 4-seed.
The LeBron injury did significantly alter odds to win the Pacific Division. As of March 27, the Lakers had a record of 29-17 – placing them third in the division behind the Phoenix Suns (30-14) and LA Clippers (30-16). The Lakers are now +1400 to win the division at FanDuel Sportsbook despite only being two games out of the race. The Clippers are the favorites at -260 and the Suns are +240 at FD. Obviously the books are skeptical that LeBron will be back soon.