The Washington Wizards have the better record, but the New Orleans Pelicans are playing better basketball. Too bad neither team is a profitable NBA pick yet – unless you’re looking at the totals.
Jason’s record as of Nov. 28: 11-9 ATS
Apparently the New Orleans Pelicans are an endangered species. They’ve rarely been healthy since joining the league in 2002; their latest casualty is Eric Gordon, who’s out indefinitely with a completely torn labrum in his left shoulder. Yikes. Without Gordon, New Orleans fell 100-91 to the Atlanta Hawks (–2.5) on Friday.
They’ll have to do better than that on Saturday (7:00 p.m. ET, NBA-TV) when they visit the Washington Wizards. The Wiz are struggling to get all five of their starters healthy at the same time, but at least they were idle on Friday, which gives Nene a chance to recover from his plantar fasciitis. This is one of those injuries that could take a while, though. The NBA odds have opened regardless, with Washington laying 4.5 points at home and a total of 201.
Ten years ago, the New Orleans Hornets suffered one of the worst fates imaginable in the NBA – they were moved to the Western Conference. The Hornets ended up winning just 18 games in 2004-05, but at least that put them in position to draft Chris Paul. After a couple of post-Katrina years split between New Orleans and Oklahoma City, the Hornets became one of the best teams in the West.
And then it all fell apart again. Paul was traded before he could hit free agency, the Hornets tumbled back to the bottom of the Western standings, allowing them to draft Anthony Davis first overall in 2012. Davis (34.4 PER) is playing at an MVP level, just like Paul did before him, and the re-branded Pelicans (7-7 SU, 6-8 ATS) are on their way back up the standings. It’s the circle of NBA life, baby. Hakuna matata.
What’s It All About, Austin?
That is, the Pellies were on their way up, before losing Gordon (8.7 PER) and dropping back-to-back games. This hasn’t been a great start to the season for Gordon; he missed the last month of the 2013-14 campaign with tendinitis in his knee, and his scoring this year plummeted to 11.0 points per 36 minutes.
Stepping into the breach at shooting guard: Austin Rivers (12.2 PER), who was largely considered a bust as a rookie, but has made some progress coming into his third season in the NBA. Now Rivers is slightly above replacement level at 0.4 VORP. But he’s still got miles to go. On Friday, Rivers missed all eight of his shots, and Atlanta’s backcourt had a field day against the Pelicans.
Want More Action? Check Out the Picks of the Day for Satuday 11/29
That’ll be music to the ears of the Wizards (9-5 SU, 6-8 ATS) and their supporters. Washington might not have Nene (11.8 PER) on Saturday, but shooting guard Bradley Beal (13.1 PER) made his season debut last week, and he’s working his way back up to speed. Meanwhile, John Wall (20.1 PER) is playing like an All-Star again, and Andre Miller (17.7 PER) is dishing out 9.0 assists per 36 minutes off the bench.
As for the frontcourt, the Wizards have many more options this year to soak up Nene’s minutes. But are these options worth considering? Kris Humphries (13.5 PER) got the start at power forward on Tuesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers (–7.5 at home), and he was held to three points on 1-of-7 shooting in a 113-87 loss. DeJuan Blair (17.3 PER last year with Dallas) finally got his first meaningful minutes as a Wizard; he didn’t take a shot and posted a minus-11 in 14 minutes of relief.
Davis could end up making a meal of the entire Washington frontcourt on Saturday. Which is why we’re recommending the OVER for your NBA picks. It’s 9-5 for each of these two teams going into this matchup. Dial us up for No. 10, and may the sphere be with you.
Free NBA Pick: Take the OVER at 5Dimes