It’s not exactly an example of ‘thinking outside the box’, but in a sport such as basketball where one individual makes such a difference to a team sport, the impact of injury can dramatically change the odds.
A couple of recent examples can be found in the ongoing NBA Play-Offs, where the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers have both lost their star players to injury this week.
The Warriors’ Steph Curry came back from an ankle injury, slipped on a wet spot, and sprained his knee ruling him out for maybe two weeks.
The Clippers’ star Chris Paul broke his hand this week, and Blake Griffin is now out of the play-offs with a left quadriceps injury.
Anyone watching game four of the Clippers Series (v Portland Trail Blazers) would have seen Paul’s reaction, and recognized that the injury was serious.
Add to that the sight of Griffin sitting on the bench clearly in discomfort and you have an opportunity.
With the series down to a best of three, the Trail Blazers were 1.45 favourites to win the series. Now that they are 3:2 ahead, with game six at home, they'll be down to around 1.15.
I was asked by text at the start of the play-offs “Will anybody beat the Warriors?” – my reply was, unfortunately for the Warriors, rather perceptive “Warriors are vulnerable if Curry gets injured”.
I didn’t mean to jinx Mr. Curry, (not that jinxes are real), and the Warriors have more depth than the Clippers, but my comment was to make the point that any team's fortunes can change in an instant with a key injury and that even in a ‘team‘ sport, it can be rewarding to look beyond the immediate event.