The first overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, Zion Williamson is the hope for the future of the New Orleans Pelicans. However, with injuries already derailing the start of his career, the star in the making has missed more games than he’s played.
New Orleans is a longshot to make the playoffs, at +1600 to make the playoffs on DraftKings. But with Zion nearing a return from injury, now may be the time to place a wager at a Louisiana sportsbook.
Understanding Zion’s impact on the organization
There is no doubt that Williamson missing in action has affected the organization as a whole. The Pelicans are 18-32, which is good for the 12th spot in the Western Conference. The former Duke star is currently nursing a foot injury that has prohibited him from even practicing 5-on-5 practice that involves contact.
To open the season, the Pelicans had the sixth youngest roster in the NBA. To understand his potential in the league, Zion appeared in 61 of 72 games and made the All-Star Game in just his second season in the league.
He has already shown that he can be a superstar in this league as he is a member of elite company. Only Lebron James and Luka Dončić are the only other two players in NBA history to average 26 PPG at the age of 20 or younger. However, Zion’s impact on betting may be trickier than anticipated.
Earlier in the season, fans and pundits were concerned about Zion’s weight. He was spotted next to former Duke teammate RJ Barrett during pregame warmups as he looked noticeably out of shape.
Zion’s impact on Louisiana futures bettors
The Pelicans are currently 23-26-1 this year ATS. 13-10-1 at home, and 10-16 on the road. The team has covered 46.9 percent of games this season. When Williamson played last season, the Pelicans had a 34-38-0 ATS, translating to a 47.2 percent cover.
The Pelicans’ 2022 draft pick is lottery-protected. They traded the pick to the Charlotte Hornets in a three-team deal that included the Memphis Grizzlies. If New Orleans retains the pick, the Hornets will receive 2022 and 2024 second-round picks. The team also has the Los Angeles Lakers’ first-round pick this year.
Avoiding any opportunity of Zion requesting a trade, the Pelicans have star Brandon Ingram secured until the 2024-2025 season. The Pelicans could move up in the lottery if they stay in lottery position. They also have first-round picks via the Milwaukee Bucks from the Jrue Holiday trade.
If the Pelicans can land another top four pick once again, they’ll have the opportunity to land a top prospect. Some of those top players are Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero, and Jaden Ivey.
It’s hard to measure what impact Zion Williamson’s return will have on Louisiana’s sports betting market and its bettors. The New Orleans Saints also need to figure out who will replace Sean Payton as head coach. Collegiate programs like the LSU Tigers also need to stay relevant in the SEC.