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What LeBron’s return means for Lakers future outlook

Los Angeles will get the All-Star back in the lineup this weekend it seems. We break down what LeBron James’ return means for fantasy and betting markets.

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates a play with Dennis Schroder during a 116-109 LA Clippers win in the season opening game at Staples Center on December 22, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James hasn’t played since he sprained his ankle against the Atlanta Hawks on March 20. He’s listed as questionable for the first time in over a month ahead of his team’s Friday matchup against the Sacramento Kings. The Lakers have slipped in the Western Conference because of long-term injuries to Anthony Davis and James, but the duo is bound to be reunited on the hardwood soon. Can the Lakers climb from fifth place and avoid the play-in tournament? Let’s take a look at their odds at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Lakers NBA Championship odds

Oddsmakers still consider Los Angeles to be a top-notch contender. The Lakers’ title odds are +350, and they only trail the favored Brooklyn Nets (+240). While neither side has had much time to improve team chemistry, star power often prevails when the postseason rolls around. The Lakers have two All-NBA talents in James and Davis. Both put up elite numbers en route to last year’s championship, and Los Angeles’ supporting cast has only gotten better.

LeBron’s NBA MVP odds

James was the frontrunner for the first half of the season, but he’s now a longshot at +5000.

Denver Nuggets C Nikola Jokic (-670) seems likely to run away with the award. Stephen Curry (+2000) improved his odds significantly during James’ absence by going on one of the best shooting runs that anybody has ever seen, and James would have to do more to close the gap with 10 regular-season games left. It’d be a waste to bet on James at this point, but he could have a chance to get some postseason hardware.

Will the Lakers avoid the play-in tournament?

The Lakers haven’t had their two best defenders for over a month but boast the NBA’s best defensive rating (106.5). Frank Vogel has been able to scheme around the absence of two major difference makers. Los Angeles could get even better on both ends with James and Davis back. The Lakers’ opening night lineup, which consisted of James, Davis, Marc Gasol, Dennis Schroder and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, posted a ridiculous 103.4 defensive rating in 280 minutes. Only three lineup configurations with more than 280 minutes have been better defensively. The Lakers have been phenomenal when healthy and have a good chance to hold off the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers.

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