Now that we’re about a quarter of the way through the NBA season, it's fair to say that we have a pretty good idea of who these teams are. One team that I was high on coming into the season, and have been pleased to see perform at a high level, is the New Orleans Pelicans.
At +160 the Pelicans have the second-shortest odds in the Southwest Division race, as the Grizzlies are the current favorite at -105. Despite New Orleans (15-8) being second in the division odds, they’re first in the Southwest standings with a game up on Memphis (14-9). Based on how they’ve performed in the early part of the season, New Orleans is pacing to finish the season 53-29.
Their Big Three of Zion Williamson, CJ McCollum, and Brandon Ingram have been impressive thus far, but what makes me think this team has a chance to run away with the division is their depth.
The Pelicans have had a number of players step up when Williamson, McCollum or Ingram have missed time and the team doesn’t seem to miss a beat. Their bench ranks second in the league in plus/minus at +2.2, which is what allows them to maintain or even build upon leads while the starters are out and thus effectively close out games. Not to mention they are top ten in points, field goal percentage, three-point percentage, rebounds, and steals.
Now, some might argue that Dallas is a better bet at +350 right now. My argument for that is that what we’re seeing from Luka Doncic isn’t going to be sustainable throughout the remainder of the season. Doncic has had an incredible start to the year but his usage rate of 37.2% is out of control.
He’s being asked to do everything for Dallas, and for as good as he is, I’m worried he’s going to run out of gas toward the back half of the season.
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