Lakers vs. Thunder Expert NBA Betting Analysis and Free Pick

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Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Carmen Mandato/Getty Images/AFP

The Oklahoma City Thunder are an easy NBA pick this Friday when they host LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers – in theory.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

Friday, December 10, 2021- 8:00 PM EST at Paycom Center

Never bet against the Oklahoma City Thunder. All right, that’s a bit extreme, but is there a better front office in the NBA? The Thunder are absolutely loaded with young talent, and while they may be at the bottom of the Northwest Division at 8-16, they’re also the most profitable team in the entire Western Conference at 15-9 ATS.

Yes, this is the same Thunder team that lost by 73 points to the Memphis Grizzlies last week. But they’re also 2-0 SU and ATS since then, beating the Detroit Pistons (–3) and Toronto Raptors (–8) on the road. And they’re in good shape to beat the Los Angeles Lakers this Friday – provided LeBron James suits up. We’re guessing he will, now that the Lakers have opened as 8.5-point road faves on the NBA odds board at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review).

Shai Is Benediction

In case you’ve been living under a rock these past few months, here’s the thing with LeBron: The Lakers are 8-6 SU and 3-11 ATS this year when James is in action, compared to 5-7 SU and 6-6 ATS when he isn’t. This is All-Star veteran LeBron James we’re seeing on the court now, not MVP LeBron James in his prime.

Get used to it before the betting public does. In the meantime, get used to how good some of these Oklahoma City players are. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the heart and soul of this rebuilding franchise, posting a plus-0.7 BPM at Basketball-Reference. Lu Dort (minus-1.8 BPM) is as tough as nails, of course, and rookie Josh Giddey (minus-2.4 BPM) has shown flashes of brilliance.

Do the Hustle

It’s the less-heralded players, though, that has the Thunder rolling in the green thus far. Kenrich Williams (minus-0.3 BPM), who went undrafted in 2018, has earned the nickname Kenny Hustle for his efforts.

Ty Jerome (minus-1.1 BPM), a late first-round pick in 2019, has played solid basketball in OKC since coming over from the Phoenix Suns as part of the Chris Paul trade. And Mike Muscala (plus-3.7 BPM) is playing the best basketball of his career, hitting 42.5 percent of his threes while scooping up 7.8 rebounds per 36 minutes.

So now that we’ve established Oklahoma City’s bona fides, all we need to do is see if LeBron is going to play for Los Angeles. This is the second of back-to-back games for the Lakers; James played 37 minutes Thursday night in Memphis versus the Grizzlies, who beat L.A. 108-95 as 4-point home dogs.

It’s entirely possible the Lakers sit James out Friday night, so keep an eye on the morning shoot-around and see what happens. Otherwise, we’re putting the Thunder in our betting picks. You know we have to do it to ‘em.

NBA Pick: Thunder +6 (–110) with Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Thunder +6 (–110)
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*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.