Jason’s 2018-19 NBA picks record through May 14:
30-29-1 ATS, 0-6 ML (minus-12.63 units), 38-25-1 Totals
Some teams have all the luck. In 2012, the New Orleans Hornets moved up from fourth to first in the draft lottery, giving them a slam-dunk pick in Anthony Davis. Seven years later, with Davis wanting out of town, the now-Pelicans moved up from seventh to first at Tuesday’s lottery, giving them another easy choice at No. 1: Zion Williamson, the uber-prospect from Duke.
The NBA odds have gone wild since Tuesday’s announcement. The Pelicans went into the lottery at 300/1 to win the title in 2020, according to the oddsmakers in Vegas. After the balls bounced their way, New Orleans shot up to 25/1. Is this real life? Do the Pellies belong in our NBA picks now that they have the inside track on Williamson?
As with most things in life, the answer is simple: It depends. Davis (plus-8.5 BPM) was enjoying an MVP-quality season in New Orleans before his agent demanded a trade – preferably to the Los Angeles Lakers. Davis still has a year to go on his contract, plus a player option for 2020-21; now that Williamson might be on his way to the Big Easy, maybe Davis will decide to stick around after all.
If that scenario takes place, then yes, the Pelicans would be a bargain at 25/1. Davis, Jrue Holiday (plus-2.8 BPM) and Julius Randle (plus-1.4 BPM) are three quality players; Williamson would make it four. They’d have to go out and surround that core with some smart free-agent signings, of course, but at least New Orleans would be on the fringes of the title picture, and just in time for what looks like the end of the Golden State Warriors’ dynastic cycle.
Julie, Don’t Go
That’s too many ifs for our liking here at the ranch. Word on the street is that Davis is still keen on getting out of Dodge, even with Williamson giving the Pels a “Get Out of Jail Free’ card when it comes to the supporting cast they can offer Davis and his people. On top of that, Randle has a player option for 2019-20, and there’s every chance he bolts to sign up with his hometown Dallas Mavericks instead.
Without Davis (and maybe Randle), you can pretty much write off the Pelicans and their title chances. If Williamson turns out to be, say, the next LeBron James in terms of impact, it should still take years before this team is title-worthy. James played like an All-Star for the Cleveland Cavaliers in his 2003-04 rookie campaign; they finished out of the playoffs at 35-47. It would be another two years before the Cavs made the postseason, three years before they reached the NBA Finals – and 12 years before they won the title, after James returned from his spell with the Miami Heat. All good things to those who wait.