The New Orleans Pelicans were one of the fastest rising teams when the season was suspended. New Orleans started the season slowly but they picked up the pace after Zion Williamson returned from his Achilles injury. The Pelicans went 8-5 in their last 13 games played to move to within 3.5 games of the 8th seeded Memphis Grizzlies with a 28-36 record. Although they are currently on the outside looking at the playoff picture, this team has plenty of firepower led by 2019 #1 overall pick Zion Williamson and first-time All-Star Brandon Ingram. With one of the league’s top offenses, New Orleans is a threat to enter the playoffs via the backdoor.

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Basketball New Orleans Pelicans Season Summary

The New Orleans Pelicans started the season on the wrong foot as 2019 top pick Zion Williamson missed the start of the season with a torn meniscus. Williamson played only 19 of the team’s 64 regular-season games and his absence hurt the Pels in the beginning. Aside from Williamson, the Pelicans also lost Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball to at least eight games each and New Orleans couldn’t get into a consistent form to start the year.

However, with Zion returning in January 2020, the Pelicans suddenly played like a different team. They started picking up wins and before we knew it, they were back in the hunt for the 8th and final playoff spot. The Pelicans entered the break splitting their last 10 games but they were 8-5 in their last 13 assignments before the coronavirus break.

As it stands, New Orleans has a record of 28-36 and while they are in 19th place, they are just 3.5 games behind the 8th seeded Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference team standings.

Williamson deserves credit for putting the Pelicans back in the playoff race. In 19 games played, the former Duke Blue Devil is averaging 23.6 points per game while shooting 58.9% from the floor. In the Pelicans’ last 13 games, Zion was putting up 25.6 points per game on 61% shooting. But Williamson has also gotten plenty of help from Ingram and Ball.

  • Ingram was having a breakout year and is one of the top choices for the Most Improved Player award as he averaged 24.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.3 rebounds while shooting 38.7% from behind the three-point area.
  • Likewise, Ball was starting to pick up his game when the season was suspended. The former Lakers point guard averaged 14.2 points per game while shooting 42.3% from behind the three-point area for the Pelicans.

Basketball Odds and Outlook

The Pelicans entered the 2019-20 season as +250 underdogs to make the playoffs and were a -350 to miss the postseason bus. They are currently a +350 to enter the postseason and a -700 not to make the playoffs in the latest odds as of June 21, 2020, at They are 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the final playoff spot and they are currently tied with the Sacramento Kings and Portland Trail Blazers behind the Grizzlies. The NBA reset only has 8 regular-season games on the schedule so the Pelicans must open the restart with guns blazing. They can’t afford a slow start.

If the NBA sticks to its announcement that the upcoming schedule will not deviate much from the original 2019-20 season schedule, the Pelicans will be playing.

  • Sacramento Kings (2 times)
  • Utah Jazz
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • San Antonio Spurs
  • Memphis Grizzlies (2 times)
  • Orlando Magic

If this schedule holds, they truly have a chance at cutting Memphis’ lead since they could be playing them twice in eight games. New Orleans might also play Sacramento twice and they could eliminate the Kings from the race as well. When you look at this schedule, it’s clear that the Pelicans do not control their destiny and they also need the Grizzlies, Blazers, and Kings to lose games to make it to the playoffs.

Even if the Pelicans can’t catch-up, they will still have a chance to enter the playoffs via the backdoor. One of the possibilities in the NBA’s new format includes a play-in tournament for the 8th seed if a team is within four games of the 8th seed. Although getting the 8th seed outright is beyond their control, going to a play-in tournament is within their means and very doable for this young and talented squad.

If the Pelicans Make the Playoffs

They will play the Lakers in the first round. Given that Ingram, Ball, and Josh Hart were traded by the Lakers to the Pelicans, that will be a very interesting series.

Basketball Player Injuries

Sharpshooter J.J. Redick was hounded by a hamstring injury before the break. He should be ready to go after getting three months off and his average 14.9 points and 45.2% three-point shooting will be a big help to the New Orleans offense. If the team makes the postseason, Redick will be a valuable asset with his shooting and experience.

Kenrich Williams has not played since January but he’s been cleared to return to practice and should be thrown in the thick of the action right away. Williams was averaging 22.3 minutes of action per game before he got hurt and should give New Orleans more ceiling and toughness if he can return. Darius Millers is also almost a year removed from his Achilles injury and if he can make a comeback, the Pelicans will have an added scoring boost.

Miller made 41.1% of his 4.4 three-point attempts per game during the 2017-18 season and is a career 38.2% shooter from deep. If he returns to action and gets back in form, his outside shooting is going to help Zion Williamson do his damage inside the paint and in mid-range. If New Orleans can get everybody healthy, then Williamson won’t just get help, he will also get enough rest for a long playoff run.

Basketball Betting Predictions

Currently, the online sportsbook Betonline have the New Orleans Pelicans at +5000 to win the Western Conference and a +8000 to win the NBA title. If you ask me, the Pelicans are my darkhorse team to make the playoffs in the West. I like what the Grizzlies have done but when you look at the talent level, the Pelicans have more than weapons than the Grizzlies. You could argue that Memphis plays better defense and has better teamwork

Remember that the New Orleans Pelicans is one of the best scoring teams in the league and they were just getting their players to jell due to injuries.

I’ll pass on the Pelicans when it comes to futures betting because while I think they are a dark horse to make the playoffs, I’m not sure if they have the experience to beat the top teams in a seven-game series. If Williamson stays healthy and he keeps on improving, I think that the Pelicans are a good bet to make the playoffs. Remember that they don’t have to catch up with the Grizzlies to get to the bus. If they can enter a play-in tournament, they are as equally dangerous.

During the playoff seeding, New Orleans should be excellent bets in regular-season games where they are underdogs. This is a team that is ultra-talented on offense and if they can step up on defense, they are an elite team that can compete with the best teams in the league. I think the Pelicans are running on adrenalin and if they can keep their momentum going, they are a dangerous team.

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