The NBA Trade Deadline and All-Star Weekend have come and gone, so that means we’re in the home stretch of the 2019-20 NBA season. In this serious post-All-Star Break, we’ll go over the outlook for every team in the NBA. Here, we’ll provide a short glimpse at championship odds and playoff chances for each team. Also highlighted are key injuries to note and a fantasy basketball player to watch the rest of the season.
Where do the New Orleans Pelicans stand at the All-Star Break?
Playoff Chances: 19.6%
Championship Odds: +25000
Division Odds: +25000
Conference Championship winner: +15000
Rookie of the Year odds: Zion Williamson +450
Zion the Savior. I’m a little surprised people haven’t started calling him that considering how he’s turned the Pelicans season around since returning. New Orleans was in trouble early on in the season with no Zion. The Pels were among the worst teams in the NBA and now they’ve got their sights set on competing for the No. 8 seed in the West. Since Williamson returned, the Pelicans are 6-5, which isn’t a crazy win rate, but respectable. It has more to do with consistency than anything. NOLA is beating teams it should beat. The losses with Zion are to the Bucks, Rockets, Nuggets, Spurs and Thunder. Four of those five teams are playoff teams.
As long as the Pelicans keep beating teams they should beat, they’ll have a shot at the postseason. Brandon Ingram has been one of the most improved players in the League this season. Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday and Josh Hart have formed a solid back court along with J.J. Redick. The Pelicans are deep when healthy and have a potent offense that can keep up with any team in the NBA. If the Pels sneak in as the 8-seed, do they have a shot to upset the Lakers or another top team? With Zion, anything seems possible.
Prediction: Not everything is possible. Pelicans miss out on the playoffs by an inch.
Key Injuries for New Orleans Pelicans
Brandon Ingram, SF/PF (ankle) — DTD
Kenrich Williams, SG/SF (back) — out indefinitely
Darius Miller, SF/PF (Achilles) — out indefinitely
Ingram missed the past three games before the All-Star Break due to a sprained ankle. It may have just been precautionary due to Ingram’s participation in the All-Star Game on Sunday. There hasn’t been any indication that Ingram will sit out of the game considering a replacement would need to be named pretty quickly. So I don’t think this is something we need to be concerned about long-term for Ingram.
Zion needs to be mentioned here mostly because of how important he is to New Orleans’ short- and long-term success. The fact that he has only missed one game since returning is encouraging. He’s also averaged 27.4 minutes per game, which is much higher than we all expected I think. Williamson isn’t expected to play back-to-backs, but the Pelicans only have three of those the rest of the season. I’d expect Zion to sit here and there, but remember that the Pelicans are looking to compete.
Fantasy basketball spotlight: Jrue Holiday
Holiday is the unsung hero for the Pelicans. All the talk is usually about Zion or Ingram or Lonzo Ball but Holiday has been one of the more underrated guards for the Pels all season. Really Jrue has been one of the more underrated guards in fantasy basketball. He isn’t incredibly efficient — shooting 44.1% from the floor and 34.7% from 3-point range. Holiday isn’t a great free throw shooter either. His defense is above average and he chips in rebounds, assists, steals, 3-pointers, pretty much every category. The Pels will always need that third scoring option and if either of Ingram or Zion were to go down (please, God no), Holiday would be in line for a big usage bump.
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