By Adam Thompson | | 4 mins
Are Pelicans & Zion A Safe Bet To Reach Projected Win Total?
The New Orleans Pelicans are on the outside of a crowded chase for the final spot in the Western Conference playoffs. They’ve lost two in a row and are 26-35 with 21 games to go.
But there’s time, the schedule is there to make a move and Zion Williamson is on the court after missing 45 games. The team is clearly better when Williamson is in the rotation.
The Pelicans have won 42.6% of their games this season. In order to hit the Over on wins they’d have to go 13-8 the rest of the way — that’s 61.9%.
But they have ample reason to push hard to the end. New Orleans sits in a precarious 12th place in the Western Conference, just four games behind the Grizzlies for the No. 8 spot but with the Kings, Trail Blazers and Spurs in front of them. That’s a lot of ground to cover, but this is a wager for total wins, and the motivation to win them all is there — for now, anyway.
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The Pelicans’ remaining schedule provides opportunity to finish the rest of the way 13-8 — and possibly get to the postseason.
That’s because seven of their final 21 games are against teams they’re directly competing with for the final playoff spot. That includes two games vs. the Grizzlies and three with the Spurs.
Of the other 14 games, eight are against non-contenders and six are against playoff teams (but that includes winnable games against the sub-.500 Magic and at home vs. the struggling 76ers).
The Zion Effect
The rookie phenom and No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Williamson missed 45 games recovering from knee surgery. He’s played in 16 games so far and has improved to All-Star levels in a short time.
In five January games, Williamson averaged 19.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 25 minutes.
In nine February games, he was at 25.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg and 2.6 apg in 30.6 minutes.
So far through two March contests, he’s averaging 30.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg and 1.5 apg in 33 minutes per game.
But the wins aren’t coming with as much regularity as highlight-reel dunks. When Williamson suits up for New Orleans, the team has gone just 8-8.
Since Williamson joined budding third-year star Brandon Ingram (24.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 4.3 apg) atop the Pelicans’ depth chart, results have been a mixed bag.
The team is just 8-8 but points per game are up and points allowed are down. Going .500 with Williamson is better than how the Pelicans did without him.
But break it down a little more. In the 16 games with Williamson, New Orleans is 6-1 vs. non-contenders, 1-1 against rivals chasing that No. 8 spot, and just 1-6 against playoff-level competition.
If the Pelicans can go 2-4 vs. playoff teams the rest of the way — that’s an improvement over how they’ve been — they’d had to go at least 5-2 against their No. 8 seed rivals and 6-2 vs. non-playoff contenders. That’s a lot to ask.
It’s going to be close, but the Under is the sounder bet here, and you can grab those odds at 888sport here.