More than any other North American professional sports league, the NBA has been susceptible to the rapid spread of COVID-19 throughout the United States.
As of March 26, members of at least seven NBA franchises have tested positive for the coronavirus, including three All-Stars: Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant, Utah Jazz forward Donovan Mitchell and teammate Rudy Gobert. The NBA temporarily suspended the regular season March 11 when Gobert became the first player to receive a positive test.
As several teams disclosed the results publicly earlier this month, the Denver Nuggets announced that a member of its organization tested positive for COVID-19. The individual underwent testing after experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 three days earlier, the Nuggets said in a statement. Separately, the Colorado Avalanche were notified Thursday that one of their players tested positive for COVID-19.
Impact of virus on futures odds
The Nuggets were one of 12 teams to play March 11, the last night the league held regular-season games before the temporary shutdown. The Nuggets were outscored 29-12 in the fourth quarter en route to a 113-97 loss to the Mavericks. With 17 games remaining in the regular season, Denver leads Utah by 1.5 games in the Northwest Division.
“The health and safety of our players, our organization, those throughout our league, and all those potentially impacted by this situation is paramount,” the Nuggets said in a statement last week.
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) March 19, 2020
Of the handful of top contenders for the NBA Championship, the Nuggets may benefit the most from an extended break. Denver has gone 5-5 over its last 10 games, including defeats to the lowly Warriors and Cavaliers. While the Nuggets notched an impressive 109-95 win over Eastern Conference leader Milwaukee on March 9, it came with NBA MVP frontrunner Giannis Antetokounmpo out of the Bucks’ lineup.
At FanDuel Sportsbook, the Nuggets have odds of 25/1 to win the NBA Championship, ninth-best across the league. The Nuggets are notably behind the Jazz (24/1) despite their slight lead in the division. The odds suggest that FanDuel’s traders have little faith in Denver, given the health of Gobert and Mitchell. Gobert wrote on his Twitter account March 22 that he lost his sense of smell for a period of four days due to the effects of the virus.
Just to give you guys an update, loss of smell and taste is definitely one of the symptoms, haven’t been able to smell anything for the last 4 days. Anyone experiencing the same thing?
— Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) March 22, 2020
The Nuggets are also a strong value play at DraftKings Sportsbook, one of FanDuel’s top competitors. Denver has odds of 30/1 at DraftKings, odds that are significantly higher than in mid-February when the Nuggets were about 15/1 to win the title. At the time, the Nuggets were one of the hottest teams in the league. Heading into a pre-All Star Game clash against the Lakers, the Nuggets won six of seven and were poised to challenge for the top spot in the West. Since that deflating overtime loss on Feb. 12, the Nuggets had lost momentum falling seven games behind the Lakers for first in the conference.
Backers of the Nuggets should shop around for the right price. At William Hill US, the Nuggets are 20/1 to win it all, providing lower value to bettors compared to the other sites. If the Nuggets improbably capture the title, you will win $3,000 on a wager of $100 at DraftKings. If you make the same bet at William Hill, you will pocket $1,000 less.
Avs’ chances of hoisting the Cup
The Avalanche, meanwhile, are trending upward thanks to a hot streak before the season was suspended. Coach Jared Bednar’s team won nine of its last 12 games. Colorado trails the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues by two points in the Central Division, but has one game in hand.
At FanDuel, the Avs (+850) are the third choice to win the Cup behind the Bruins (+600) and the Lightning (+700). Colorado is the top choice to hoist the Cup among Western Conference teams. There was little movement in Colorado futures’ odds on Thursday despite the positive test.
“The player has been at home in isolation since the first symptoms appeared, has recovered and is back to normal,” the team said in a statement. “The Avalanche have notified anyone who has had known close contact with the athlete.”
While there is still some uncertainty on if the NBA and NHL will resume their respective seasons, the NFL Draft is still scheduled to take place in late-April. As John Elway searches for playmakers for second-year quarterback Drew Lock, the Broncos may look to select a wideout in Round 1.
One prop at FanDuel gives bettors the opportunity to predict the team that will select Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy. The Broncos (+600) are listed as the co-fourth choice with the Colts, behind the Raiders (+195), the Jets (+250) and the 49ers (+340).
— Gary Feder (@GFeder1) February 26, 2020
Return to play
None of the leagues currently on hiatus have provided a timetable for when they plan on returning to play. The NBA is exploring all options to save the season, Commissioner Adam Silver told ESPN on Thursday.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban believes the NBA will look to return as soon as possible, perhaps even without spectators at first.
“People need something to rally around right now, people need sports,” Cuban said Wednesday during CNBC’s Markets In Turmoil special. “We need something to cheer for, something to get excited about and there’s nothing better than our sports teams to do it.”