New Orleans Pelicans PF Zion Williamson is out indefinitely after suffering a fractured left ring finger, the team announced Friday afternoon. Williamson was forced to leave briefly in the Pels’ last game against the Golden State Warriors. He was able to return, scoring 23 points with 12 boards and 8 assists in the win. New Orleans is 2.5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs for 10th place in the Western Conference.
The Pels only have 6 games left to catch the Spurs and sneak into the play-in tournament, which begins on May 18. If Zion is going to be sidelined through all this, it may not even be worth it for the Pelicans to push for the 9-10 game. Williamson will likely finish his second NBA season averaging 27 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Williamson is currently 4th in the League in PER at 27.27 and has a true shooting percentage right around 65 percent.
With Williamson, Brandon Ingram (ankle) and Steven Adams (toe) all likely to be out Friday vs. the Sixers, it’s hard to envision the Pelicans remaining competitive this season. Lonzo Ball and newly-signed F Naji Marshall are going to have to carry to the team to the postseason. If Nickeil Alexander-Walker can get back into the lineup, maybe that makes things more interesting. If Adams is out, we should get a good look at sophomore center Jaxson Hayes.
Anyway, back to Williamson. The phenom finished with odds to win NBA MVP this season, which is an accomplishment in itself. Granted, Zion could end the season at 500/1 to win MVP (it’s Nikola Jokic’s award this year). Expect the lines to look similar for Zion as they did for Luka Doncic heading into 2020-21. Well, maybe not Williamson as MVP favorite. Chances are Zion ends up being top 5 in terms of MVP odds, and if he isn’t, that’s where the early money will go.
In terms of short-term odds, the Pels-Sixers game Friday night was at a 9-point spread in favor of Philly. That number will likely go up a decent amount. Don’t expect this game to be too competitive. It may be worth looking at the under on the point total, which was 229 before the Williamson news. Most of the money was coming in on the Sixers anyway. We’ll see how high the spread climbs in this one. If we do get props, Lonzo stuff is appealing. NAW may not be listed given his injury status. Jaxson Hayes rebounds? That could work. The Sixers may also sit a bunch of regulars since they aren’t playing for much in first place in the East. Their schedule is easy enough that they wouldn’t risk losing the No. 1 seed to the Nets.