A surplus of superstar talent in La-La Land has made Kobe Bryant a little less valuable in the eyes of NBA oddsmakers.
But, while Bryant’s worth to the spread may have declined, most sportsbooks aren’t taking any chances with his ailing foot heading into the Los Angeles Lakers’ season opener with the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday.
The two-time Finals MVP has missed recent preseason play with a strained right foot and is currently listed as questionable.
The early spreads had Los Angeles as high as -10, but that has since been bet down to -8.5. Mid-afternoon Bryant was upgraded to probable and line moved up to -9. The total moved from 187.5 when it opened to 185.5 by 3:30 ET Tuesday.
“There were a few games last season in which (Bryant) sat out that moved four or five points,” Jeff Stoneback, sportsbook manager at the MGM Mirage, told Covers.
Stoneback says, with the Lakers’ additions of Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Antawn Jamison, that Bryant’s perceived value to the spread is around three points.
Basketball bettors saw a similar change in value to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade when they joined forces in Miami. James was valued by as much as 10 points on the spread as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers but is now valued between five and six points, according to a poll Covers did last year.
“Kobe's not going to have to carry the team like he has with that type of supporting cast around him,” says Stoneback.
Bryant isn’t the only superstar licking their wounds as the season opens. Dallas’ All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki is out of action until mid November after undergoing minor knee surgery.
His absence has scared plenty of bettors away from the Mavs, who opened at 18-1 to win the NBA Championship but are now at 40-1 at MGM properties.
Stoneback says the Mirage won’t post a line on Tuesday’s game until more information on Bryant is out, but will only wait it out until noon Tuesday local time, as NBA bettors will begin rolling into the sportsbook.
The Lakers are one of the most popular wagers in Las Vegas thanks to the close proximity of California. Los Angeles went 5-3 SU and 4-4 ATS in eight games without Bryant in the lineup last season. The over/under was 4-4 in those contests.