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Lakers vs. Nuggets Betting Odds & Preview: Don’t Pass on This LeBron James Prop

Lakers vs. Nuggets Betting Odds & Preview: Don’t Pass on This LeBron James Prop article feature image
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Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images. Pictured: LeBron James.

  • The Los Angeles Lakers are on the road in Denver to face the Nuggets in an early must-win spot to get their season back on track.
  • The Nuggets are 6-point favorites with injuries to Russell Westbrook and Michael Porter Jr. potentially impacting both teams.
  • Jim Turvey explains why he's targeting a player prop Wednesday.

Lakers vs. Nuggets Odds

Lakers Odds +175
Nuggets Odds -205
Over/Under 229 (-110 / -110)
Time 10 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

A pair of teams who haven’t quite gotten off to the starts they would have hoped for will meet Wednesday night for the ESPN late night matchup, as the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Denver Nuggets.

Of course, there are levels to “what they would have hoped for.” The Nuggets are 2-2 with a loss to the Jazz on opening night that looked a lot worse then than it does now and a win over Golden State to their name. They might not be clicking on all cylinders just yet, but they’re still working in a lot of pieces that are either new or returning from long absences. There’s time.

There might not be a whole lot of time left for this version of the Lakers. The purple and gold have quickly become the laughingstock of the league, with an 0-3 start that, while it has all come against decent teams, is more about how they’re looking in these losses.

The team is shooting 21.2 (!!!!) percent from three, and their 97.2 offensive rating is worst in the league by a country mile. Beyond LeBron James and Anthony Davis, this roster has big Middle School B Team vibes.

Russell Westbrook has been an unmitigated disaster to start the year, shooting 28.9 percent from the field and 8.3 (!!!) percent from three on four attempts a game.

Let’s have that lead us into this betting preview, in fact, as we break down the Lakers vs. Nuggets odds and prediction, plus my picks for your best bets on Wednesday.

Russ it Out… Just How Out?

If you had the under on “days until the Lakers bench Russell Westbrook with an ‘injury’ that may or may not be an excuse for his play,” congratulations, you just won your bet. Westbrook is doubtful to play on Wednesday with hamstring soreness.

This well could be a flare up of the injury he got from coming off the bench (…), but it could also be Darvin Ham and the Lakers politely trying to let Russ get a reset. What’s going to be fascinating to see, however, is if the Lakers get a win without Russ, what the chatter becomes then and how long Russ is out with what would in theory be a quick injury to return from.

LeBron and AD are both listed as probable for Wednesday night, and this is not exactly a deep team, as we have noted. Getting Westbrook out of the rotation is one thing, replacing him is another. Kendrick Nunn is likely to get more minutes and maybe even a start. If he does, I’ll be looking to his points over if it’s around 10.5, as he is due for some positive regression in terms of his shooting.

In fact, that regression to the mean in terms of Lakers shooting is a team-wide trend to watch Wednesday night and what I’m going to be looking at for a few different angles. It might seem bold to look to be on the L.A. offense right now, but simply no NBA offense can be this bad forever.

Is Denver’s Bad Defense Going to Wake the Lakers?

The Nuggets defense is ripe to wake up the Lakers a bit. In fact, this game is a bit of a “two immovable objects” game.

The Lakers have the worst offense in the league so far, but the Nuggets have the second-worst defense through Monday’s games. Their 50.0 percent field goal percentage allowed is worst in the league, and it makes sense given the amount of turnover and rust this roster has right now.

These two teams are also both in the top 10 for pace so far, which means points could be flowing if the Nuggets can indeed wake up the Lakers offense. It’s worth noting that the Lakers defense has actually been pretty strong so far (third in the league in defensive rating through Monday’s games), so it truly is a bit of the extremes meeting on all ends.

Denver might be without Michael Porter Jr. on Wednesday, who has picked up mostly right where he left off, averaging 18 and six with a 66.7 percent effective field goal percentage. That could be a key piece missing, as AD has never been a matchup that Jokic has scored much against.

As such, Aaron Gordon and Jamal Murray will be looked to often for Denver.

Lakers-Nuggets Pick

With all that, there are plenty of angles to attack on Wednesday.

If Westbrook is out, my favorite bet is LeBron James over 6.5 assists. Before the Westbrook news, DraftKings had over 6.5 assists at +100 for James, which is a must-hit. With Russ out, the juice will probably flip to start, but I still like the play for several reasons:

  • James is averaging 7.3 assists per game this season and has gone over 6.5 in two of three games.
  • Denver is the worst defense the Lakers have played so far this season, and both teams have a top-ten pace.
  • With Russ out, James will bring the ball down the court more often, as well as be even more likely to be the one to get the board and start the break.
  • Finally, if the Lakers shooting regresses in a positive manner even just a bit, James has one of the biggest gaps between his potential assists (14.3) and his actual assists (7.3), meaning the opportunities are there if the looks start to fall.

If Porter Jr. sits, I’d look to Jamal Murray’s points prop. He has started the season shooting cold, but again, that makes sense with the rust he is likely shaking off. Also, if Russ does indeed sit and MPJ is out, I would take Lakers +6, but it would have to stay right around that number.

Pick: LeBron James over 6.5 assists (any juice); over 7.5 assists (plus or even money)
Lean: Lakers +6 (if both Westbrook and MPJ are ruled officially out)

NBA article plays: 4-1 (67.8 percent ROI on a minuscule sample, of course)
NBA Action Network App plays: 48-27-2 (26.0 percent ROI)

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