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NBA Odds: Is this New Orleans Pelicans team for real this season or the mirage we’ve become accustomed to?

It’s time for something to actually happen with this Pelicans squad

New Orleans Pelicans v Orlando Magic Photo by Gary Bassing/NBAE via Getty Images

Oh, the New Orleans Pelicans. What are we to make of this band of misfits? In a vacuum, it’s easy to fall in love with the talent they have all over the roster. The Mavericks would be a better team if they had nearly any of their regular rotation players. Even players on the fringes of the rotation could be a nice grab for most teams.

The issues, however, start and end with their franchise player Zion Williamson. Zion was in the news all offseason for being criminally horny and openly admitting his issues with weight gain. The extra lbs have stripped him of his health and some of his athleticism. He’s still a tremendous player but can the Pelicans continue to put their faith in him?

New Orleans Pelicans (Over/Under 44.5 Wins)

Key Additions - Jordan Hawkins

Key Losses - Josh Richardson, Devonte Graham, Jaxson Hayes

Finding players that qualified as a key addition or loss was tough. This is essentially the same team that took the court last season. The same team that started the season on a tear and convinced us they had taken a step forward as a franchise. I, for one, had egg on my face since I had made the Pelicans under one of my favorite bets on the board entering the season. I pointed to Zion’s health, to their inability to get stops in key situations. You never want to take credit for a player getting hurt but betting against Zion staying healthy was a bet I was willing to make then and a bet I am willing to make now. Until he proves he can stay healthy, we have to assume that he won’t. Videos of Zion looking like the Hulk no longer move me. In fact, the increase in muscle mass gives me more reason to worry. As a fan of basketball, I hope I’m wrong. The league is more fun when Zion is healthy and overpowering teams nightly. As a gambler, and fan of his division rival Mavericks, I’m not willing to put my money on it.

As it stands, this is Brandon Ingram’s team and one has to wonder how the two will gel on the court. Ingram will be happy to stand in the corner while Point Zion dominates the ball. Ingram has been healthier and probably feels like it should be him who has the ball in his hands. Larry Nance Jr. was the perfect player for them last season, but his health is also a question mark as the season approaches. At their ceiling, the Pelicans are probably good enough to beat anyone on any night. Unfortunately, there are too many ways for things to fall apart. CJ McCollum is on the books for 3 more years. Even at a declining salary, a step back in his performance could make that contract look even worse than it does now. The best thing for the team might be to trade Zion but no one wants to be the GM that traded away a generational talent.

They have the ability to push their chips in and become a player in the trade market, but the front office will be reluctant to part with long-term assets if Zion once again fails to finish the season healthy. Because of my basketball fandom, I’ll probably stay clear of this bet but the under has more value than the over. The West is too good and any extended absence from either Zion or Brandon Miller could prove disastrous for the Pelican’s season outlook.

PREDICTION - Under 44.5 Wins