Is fading the L.A. Lakers still the right strategy for our NBA picks? Maybe not this Tuesday when the Sacramento Kings come to town.
Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Tuesday, January 4, 2022 – 10:30 PM EST at Crypto.com Arena
You know the Los Angeles Lakers are in trouble when they get excited about Stanley Johnson. No offense to Johnson; he’s made the most of his latest shot at a regular NBA gig, signing a 10-day contract with the Lakers and using his preternatural defensive gifts to land a spot in the starting rotation.
They even traded away Rajon Rondo to open up a roster spot for him, which they will presumably use to sign Johnson to a fresh deal any moment now, or maybe a second 10-day later this week. But this is Stanley Johnson, not Magic Johnson.
The Lakers (19-19 SU, 15-23 ATS) are still a mess as constructed, and they’re still eminently fade-worthy for your NBA picks – as long as LeBron James is playing, of course. That appears to be the case for Tuesday’s game versus the Sacramento Kings (16-22 SU, 17-21 ATS), who are 8-point road dogs at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review) as we go to press, shortly after opening at +7.5.
The problem with Johnson (who may or may not be with the team Tuesday), as it always has been, is his offense – or lack thereof. The Lakers are basically playing 4-on-5 when he’s on the court; after five games in the Purple and Gold, Basketball Reference has Johnson at plus-1.2 on defense using their Box Plus/Minus numbers, which is consistent with his previous body of work. But they also have Johnson at a career-low minus-5.4 BPM on offense.
Sweet juniper berries. To be fair, the Lakers are 3-2 SU and ATS in those five games. But two of those wins were against the Houston Rockets (+6 at home) and the Portland Trail Blazers (+6 away), two teams who are an absolute mess right now. Still, James has definitely picked up his game at an individual level, bumping his BPM back up to plus-8.2. I guess he still had some MVP-level basketball left in him after all. Too bad he had to unleash it now instead of waiting for the playoffs.
Fox On The Run
We’re not ready to completely abandon the “Fade LeBron” strategy here at the ranch, but we have been taking it on a game-by-game basis lately. There are two teams in every game, and in this case, the Kings are something of a mess themselves – although they have won three of their last four SU and ATS.
Maybe the return of De'Aaron Fox (minus-1.3 BPM) has something to do with it. Fox has fallen off a cliff this year, but his numbers have slowly climbed back up since that awful start to the 2021-22 campaign. Or maybe it’s the coaching change from Luke Walton to Alvin Gentry. The Kings are 10-11 SU and ATS since making the switch. Baby steps.
The Over is also 12-9 with Gentry at the controls, and 3-2 in the last five Lakers games despite Johnson’s presence, so that’s going to be our pick for this matchup – for a small sum since there’s a fat 232-point total on the NBA odds board at BetOnline. Other sportsbooks should have been posted by the time you read this, so grab the best price you can, and may the sphere be with you.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.