Now would be a good time to update your thinking on the NBA Bubble with a list of players who will not be joining their teams in Orlando. Then we can focus on how that will affect sports-betting and fantasy. The season is set to resume July 30th with an eight-game seeding round before heading into the NBA playoffs.
Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans will both be out for Washington. Beal is dealing with a shoulder injury, while Bertans isn't suiting up for financial reasons. I have been betting the Wizards to be the eighth seed in the East for a few weeks. After the news broke that Beal would not be playing, the Fanduel Sportsbook moved the Wizards up to +2700 to land the eighth seed. It may sound crazy, but I'm going to hit it again. Rui Hachimura and Isaiah Thomas will have to pick up the scoring load for Washington.
I'm not sure if a whole team could forfeit, but one would think the Nets are getting close to that point. Brooklyn will be without Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Wilson Chandler, and Taurean Prince will not be joining the Nets in Orlando. We all knew Durant and Irving would be out, but the other four have tested positive for COVID-19. Brooklyn will still have Joe Harris, Caris Levert, and Jarrett Allen on the floor. They are currently -260 to be the eighth seed in the East. Do not lay 260 on the Nets' junior varsity team.
The Celtics do not have any coronavirus related issues, but Gordon Hayward's wife is expecting their fourth child in September. At this time, Hayward will leave the team to be with his wife when she gives birth. The season will be deep in the playoffs by then, Boston is currently +700 to win the Eastern Conference. It's not a bet I would make. The Raptors are also +700 to win the East, and I like that one better.
The Pacers will not have to battle for a playoff spot since they are already in; however, they can improve their seeding. Although with no home-court advantage to play for, expect the Pacers not to ramp up their play until the actual playoffs start. Victor Oladipo, who returned from injury earlier this year, has decided to sit out the rest of this season to be fully healthy next season. Indiana didn't play as well with Oladipo in the lineup than before he came back from injury. Malcolm Brogdon tested positive for COVID-19 a few weeks back, today he announced on twitter that he is feeling well and is ready for Orlando.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers will be at near full staff going into the bubble. Fanduel has them at +165 to win the Western Conference and +260 to win the NBA Championship. Lakers guard Avery Bradley will not be joining his teammates in Orlando. Bradley is a good perimeter defender the Lakers could see either Ja Morant or Damian Lillard in the first round. The Lakers will have trouble with athletic guards, making each a good fantasy option.
Lakers insider Melissa Rohlin has this bit of good news on Dwight Howard's decision to play in Orlando:
Howard has been a key reserve this season, averaging 7.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.2 blocked shots in 19.2 minutes a game for the Lakers, who are atop the Western Conference with a record of 49-14.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers are up there with the Lakers as betting favorites in the Western Conference. They are +175 to win the West and +320 to win it all. Landry Shamet has tested positive for coronavirus and will likely not travel with this teammates to Orlando. Where the Clippers could run into trouble is if Lou Williams decides to sit out. He has said he is undecided, but nothing much has been said since if Williams does decide to sit out, the Lakers will win the Western Conference.
The initial COVID-19 outbreak occurred when Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell tested positive back in March. They have recovered and will be playing in the bubble. The issue for Utah is their second-leading scorer Bojan Bogdanovic is out for the season with a wrist injury. Utah could struggle to score enough points to keep up with the other playoff teams in the West. The injury to Bogdanovic makes Joe Ingles an excellent fantasy option.
The big story is with the Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic. Jokic has been outside of the United States. He has passed a round of COVID-19 testing, but traveling to Orlando has still been an issue. The plan is to get him to Orlando with his teammates. Denver is currently the third seed in the West. It will be interesting to see if they can hang on to that spot. Depending on the final seeding, I can see the Nuggets being a first-round exit.
Thabo Sefolosha will not be joining the Rockets in Orlando. Houston could make it to the Conference Finals, but I still think the Lakers and Clippers are better than the Rockets. Oklahoma City could give Houston issues if the two teams met in the first round of the playoffs.
Willie Cauley-Stein is sitting out the league's return to play. The Dallas Mavericks are currently the seventh seed in the West, but they can work up to the fourth seed. I think Dallas will be very competitive in the seeding rounds, but I don't see them getting out of the first round.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs will have a short stay in the bubble. LaMarcus Aldridge will miss the rest of the season with a rotator cuff injury. I will be betting against San Antonio every time they play in the seeding round.
Portland Trail Blazers
The core of this veteran bunch will be in Orlando fighting for the eighth seed currently they are +480 on the FanDuel Sportsbook to be the eighth seed if you like the Trail Blazers its a smart bet. Trevor Ariza will not be with his teammates in Orlando due to family issues, but they will still be very competitive during the seeding rounds.
Alex Len, Jabari Parker, and Buddy Hield all tested positive for coronavirus. Each is doing well and expected to play in Orlando. The Kings were 7-3 after the All-Star break before the season came to a pause, and their three losses came to Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, and Toronto. The Kings are +850 to win the eighth seed in the West. I will be putting a few dollars on that.