For just the second time in his storied career, LeBron James will miss multiple weeks due to a serious injury. King James was reaching for a loose ball during Saturday’s game against the Hawks when veteran Solomon Hill crashed into his right ankle, causing an awkward bend that doctors say caused a high-ankle sprain.
The day after LeBron’s injury, Rookie of the Year favorite LaMelo Ball went down with a broken wrist. Ball will likely be out for the rest of the season.
Both injuries have cause changes at the top of the respective MVP and Rookie of the Year odd boards.
LeBron is out “indefinitely” and the Lakers will be in trouble without James or Anthony Davis (Achilles) – who is expected to be out until sometime in April. The defending champs are likely to make moves in the buyout market or perhaps trade for a big name like Andre Drummond before the March 25 deadline.
In this article, we break down the impact of those injuries on the betting landscape.
LeBron had been favored to win MVP for multiple months with +160 odds at DraftKings Sportsbook prior to his injury. Now, Nikola Jokic (-110) is favored and LeBron’s odds are down to +600.
The average timetable to recover fully from a high-ankle sprain is 4-6 weeks. LeBron is not your typical athlete and he’s vowed to return to the court soon, but he’s also 36-years-old and will heed the advice of team doctors as he prepares for another playoff push.
Will he return quickly enough to win MVP? If LeBron is back to full speed by April 10 to face off with the Nets in Brooklyn, he will have only missed nine games. The King has played in all but one game this season and voters may not penalize him for missed time if he gets back quickly.
LeBron isn’t the only MVP candidate slated to miss time. Joel Embiid and James had the same MVP odds at +200 a few weeks ago but Embiid hit the COVID list and then sprained his knee in his first game back. The Sixers big man is expected to return by the first week of April and is still getting +500 odds to win MVP with the Sixers leading the Eastern Conference standings.
With those stars missing multiple weeks, Jokic becomes a big favorite to win MVP. The Joker hasn’t missed a game this year and has a league-high 38 double doubles. He’s tied with James Harden for the second-most triple doubles (11) and Harden also benefits greatly in the MVP race from those injuries.
With Kevin Durant (hamstring) slow to return, Harden has carried the Nets with averages of 25.4 PPG and a league-high 11.4 APG over 28 appearances for Brooklyn. Injuries to LeBron and Embiid give Harden more attention and he currently sits at +900 odds to win MVP at DK Sportsbook, up from around +1600 before those injuries.
Here are the latest NBA MVP prices at the top US sportsbooks.
Rookie of the Year odds
Oddsmakers took the ROY market down temporarily to adjust after Ball’s injury. The No. 3 overall pick was a -500 favorite to win the hardware.
Anthony Edwards is now the favorite at most top sportsbooks. The Timberwolves star is -182 at DK after being +1000.
“LaMelo has been sensational for the Hornets and exceeded expectations, so the loss of this budding star for the rest of the season is disappointing for Charlotte, the league and fans alike,” DraftKings Director of Race and Sportsbook Operations Johnny Avello said. “The clear frontrunner for NBA Rookie of the Year all season, LaMelo’s odds to win the honor moved from 1-5 pre-injury to 11-5 in the aftermath.”
That said, Ball could still certainly take home the award given that he was more or less a lock to win it before the injury. In fact, he was such a lock that DraftKings will still pay out Ball ROY bets as a winner even if he doesn’t take home the award.
🗣 LaMelo Ball Rookie of the Year Bettors
His wrist injury may have may have ended his season early – but we’ve got your back.
All LaMelo Ball Rookie of the Year bets will be paid out as winners, even if the injury costs him the award. pic.twitter.com/W6ppS1gQP6
— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) March 22, 2021
Ball is still +225 at DraftKings – which are the second lowest odds.
Edwards is taking off with averages of 27.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 1.5 SPG while shooting 39% from 3-point range in six games since the All-Star break.
Tyrese Haliburton leads all rookies with a 121.2 offensive rating and is thriving in crunch-time for the Kings. If Sacramento can make the playoffs, or at least the play-in tournament in the loaded Western Conference, Haliburton could win Rookie of the Year for his role.
NBA Title futures market
At FanDuel Sportsbook, the LeBron news tipped the scales by putting the Nets (+280) ahead of the Lakers (+300) as favorites to win the title. The Lakers are still prohibitive favorites to represent the West in the Finals, with the Clippers (+290) getting the next best odds.
The Nets (+250) also moved ahead of the Lakers (+280) at PointsBet, but the Lakers hold the slight edge at William Hill and BetMGM. At FOX Bet, the Nets (+240) are well ahead of the Lakers (+300) but the site is offering an odds boost for users to get the Nets at +300 odds on a temporary basis.
Here are the best prices for the Lakers.
The Hornets were always a long shot to win the title – or even the Eastern Conference – of course, but they now have even less of a chance with Ball on the shelf. They currently sit at +1000 to win the Southeast Division at DK with the Hawks (+250) and Heat (-250) getting a significant bump in terms of their chances to wrap up the division.