How Bettors are Treating LeBron James & the Lakers During Latest Slide
Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: LeBron James, Russell Westbrook
Once among the betting favorites to win the NBA Championship, the LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are struggling to just make the playoffs.
Despite James’ efforts, the Lakers have lost six of their last seven games, including three in a row at home in front of the LA crowd.
With the 7-10 seeds qualifying for the play-in tournament for the final two spots, the Lakers are barely hanging on. Los Angeles sits in the ninth slot, 4.5 games behind the Clippers and two games ahead of both the Pelicans and Blazers. Needless to say, a 27-34 record isn’t where the Lakers expected to be.
Futures bets already look like a loss. Los Angeles clinched the under on its 48.5 preseason win total back in mid-February. Title odds at FanDuel are now +4900 after opening closer to +450.
So how are bettors treating the current Lakers? Like a team with what LeBron-Anthony Davis-Russell Westbrook lineup was supposed to look like on paper? Or do they see how a struggling Westbrook, injured AD and zero depth have performed?
Recently, it depends.
In the last 10 games, the Lakers have been favored in five and underdogs in five. In the five games as favorites, the majority of bets on the spread have been on Los Angeles according to data provided by DraftKings. In the five games as underdogs, the majority of bets against the spread are on the opponent.
Perhaps that’s not a surprise: The public likes to bet favorites. When the Lakers are favored, it’s a lot of smaller bets making up the majority of tickets compared to larger wagers fading LA.
After receiving at least 70% of handle in the first two games back from the break — and losing both — the Lakers only saw 12% of the money in Tuesday’s loss to the Mavericks.
As far as title bets go, forget about it. Those “have long dried up after (the Lakers) were hugely popular in the preseason,” PointsBet’s Patrick Eichner said.
One market there’s no souring on when it comes to the Lakers is player props. Specifically, LeBron James.
“Customers are latching on to LeBron as he delivers impressive stats on a nightly basis,” a FanDuel spokesperson said.
James is averaging 28.9 points, 8.0 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game.