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This New Orleans Pelicans team is for real and it’s about time we look for ways to profit from them. The juiciest payout for a New Orleans future is Zion Williamson to win 2022-23 NBA MVP (+3000) at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Granted, NOLA leads the West by just 1 game, and the 11th-place Minnesota Timberwolves are just five games back of the Pelicans. But, the Pelicans have been missing their second-leading scorer and, fellow All-Star, Brandon Ingram.
Zion is averaging a team-high 25.0 points per game (PPG) on 60.9% field goal shooting, which ranks 11th in the NBA, and he’s ninth in PER and eighth in Win Shares per 48.
Furthermore, the Pelicans are scoring 12.3 more points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time when Zion is on the floor, per CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG). This grades out in the 91st percentile.
Once Ingram returns to the lineup the NOLA is going to be even deeper. Ingram has been sidelined with an injury since Nov. 28. Zion is averaging 30.0 PPG on 66.9% shooting with 9.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists in seven games over that span.
My favorite part of Zion’s game is how consistent it is. Williamson physically overwhelms opponents and gets easy buckets. He doesn’t overthink it and just pushes defenders under the basket.
Here’s a look at Zion’s shot chart, according to CTG:
Another reason Zion’s MVP price jumps out to me is his motivation to be great. The Pelicans just swept the Suns in a back-to-back Friday and Sunday.
Phoenix eliminated New Orleans in the first round of last season’s playoffs and Zion wanted to get revenge on the Suns. Williamson dropped 35 in both games on 71.1% shooting (27-of-38).
His windmill dunk at the end of Friday’s Suns-Pelicans game caused a mini-brouhaha. But, this is what Zion said when asked about it post-game:
The takeaway from this is Zion actually cares about his teammates and team success. There isn’t a lot of motivation from NBA players to perform day in, day out but Williamson has that gear.
Also, Zion has a clear path to winning the NBA MVP. The Pelicans need to be the 1-seed entering the Western Conference playoffs and Williamson’s numbers can’t dip when Ingram returns.
The counterpoints for Zion’s NBA MVP case are obvious and fair. Williamson has the 10th-best odds to win the award for a reason.
New Orleans has a ton of talent and the players with better odds than Zion have higher usage rates. That said, Zion’s odds to win NBA MVP are too chunky to not add to my NBA betting portfolio.
BET: Zion Williamson to win NBA MVP at DraftKings Sportsbook (+3000)
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