2021 NBA Betting Picks: The LeBron James-Led L.A. Lakers are Back

2021 NBA Betting Picks: The LeBron James-Led L.A. Lakers are Back

Check out our best NBA bets for Thursday night's action.

On nights like Thursday, December 9, you better believe online NBA betting will be a feverish endeavor. Only three games are on the league's schedule, including two mega-marquee matchups. And whenever the Association rolls out so few contests, the interest level in each one is through the roof.

This is important to remember as you peruse NBA betting lines. All betting odds on the NBA for Thursday's action are subject to incur more wild swings than usual.

This, of course, will not stop us from dropping NBA betting picks, because the LeBron James-led Los Angeles Lakers are back, and we need to discuss the implications this has on their game against the Memphis Grizzlies and the long-term impact it'll inevitably have on the rest of the league.

First, though, let's take a look at all the latest NBA betting odds for Thursday's games, courtesy of BetOnline:

FavoriteBetOnlineBetOnlineUnderdog
Utah Jazz-136+116Philadelphia 76ers
Los Angeles Lakers-144+108Memphis Grizzlies
Denver Nuggets-110-106San Antonio Spurs

If you're looking to find a home for all of your NBA betting, our reviews of the best online sportsbooks are can't-miss. They break down all of your top options.

The 2021-22 Lakers Have Arrived

Basketball bettors everywhere have been thrown for a whirl by the 2021-22 Los Angeles Lakers.

Between injuries to LeBron James and key role players and the awkward integration of Russell Westbrook, they've registered as one of the league's most disappointing teams. As such, they haven't been very reliable betting options. Many experts won't even touch their NBA Final odds with a 10-foot pole these days.

Still, with LeBron back in the fold and Westbrook playing his best basketball of the season, the Lakers have made it clear they're not done. But they've fattened up, for the most part, on teams that are eminently worse. The Grizzlies pose a tougher challenge on Thursday.

Are the Lakers up to it? We've got Lakers-Grizzlies picks, as well as predictions for the Utah Jazz vs. Philadelphia 76ers and picks for the Denver Nuggets vs. San Antonio Spurs.

Lakers will Dismantle the Grizzlies

All signs point to the Lakers returning to championship-contender status. 

LeBron is playing extremely well since returning from injury. Westbrook looks more at home putting pressure on the rim and making decisions with the ball. Anthony Davis is starting at center. Head coach Frank Vogel's rotations are making a tad more sense. Malik Monk and Carmelo Anthony are swishing threes. The Lakers may not be perfect, but they are flirting with fringe dominance.

This isn't meant to imply the Grizzlies won't put up a fight. Normally, they would. But they won't have superstar Ja Morant, who is recovering from a left knee sprain. And while Memphis' defense has been terrific in his absence, there's no way they generate enough offense to contend with this current version of the Lakers.

OSB Prediction: Los Angeles Lakers (-144)

Los Angeles Lakers To beat the Memphis Grizzlies
-144
BetOnline

Jazz Squeak by the Sixers

Predicting this game quickly gets difficult.

Both the Jazz and Sixers are playing out the second end of a back-to-back. Things always get messy in those circumstances. Only one team, though, might be without its best player. And it's the Sixers.

Philadelphia is always a threat to sit Joel Embiid on the tail end of back-to-backs. And even if they don't, he'll have his work cut out for him. Rudy Gobert is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and can guard him well.

What's more, Utah is starting to find their offensive groove. Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell have emerged as two of the most deadly off-the-dribble jump shooters, and the Jazz's bench production has ticked up recently thanks to Joe Ingles, Rudy Gay and Hassan Whiteside. 

OSB Prediction: Utah (-136)

Utah Jazz To beat the Philadelphia 76ers
-136
BetOnline

Shorthanded Nuggets Find a Way vs. Spurs

This is nother tough game to forecast. Similar to Sixers-Jazz, both the Nuggets and Spurs played on Wednesday night. Denver's situation is more complicated. They're the team that's traveling, and they didn't get to San Antonio until late. 

Complicated still, the Nuggets remain shorthanded. They don't have Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., P.J. Dozier or Austin Rivers. It isn't yet clear whether Will Barton will be available, either. That's problematic for obvious reasons. Murray, Porter and Barton represent three of Denver's five most important players. Soldiering on without them is no picnic.

Not only that, but Jeff Green suffered a minor injury during the Nuggets' Wednesday night win. He could miss time, too. And as if that's not enough, reigning MVP Nikola Jokic is only a few games into his return from a wrist injury. Denver might opt to sit him, as well.

We're picking the Nuggets here anyway. The bet is that Jokic will play. And if he's on the court, the Spurs will have their hands full. They don't have a ready-made defensive answer for him, and they continue to deploy one of the NBA's least effective half-court offenses. It's risky, but we're rolling with Denver.

OSB Prediction: Denver Nuggets (-110)

Denver Nuggets To beat the San Antonio Spurs
-110
BetOnline

Check out this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can decide which one to use for all your NBA betting: