New Orleans at New York Knicks
Time: 6:15 PM CST (ESPN)
Spread: NOP -4.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The New Orleans Pelicans are 13-25 and are 7-12 at the Smoothie King Center, where it hosts the visiting New York Knicks in the first half of an ESPN Friday night doubleheader. The Pelicans are 4.5-point favorites in the game, and the betting total is set at 225.5 according to NBA oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
The New York Knicks have lost its last four, and seven of its last 10 overall. The Knicks have already fired its head coach David Fitzdale, but it is hard to find any real reasons to blame him for the Knicks’ lack of roster-balance nor its lack of success. There have been a few silver linings but not many for a team that had so much money to spend on a free agency period it mostly whiffed on. No stars chose the Knicks, and instead a large contract was given to Julius Randle.
While Randle has played well for his part, the Knicks were hoping for Kevin Durant or one of the other megastars. Marcus Morris Sr. has also thrived in the offensive vacuum of New York. He is having his best career season, averaging 19.1 points per game and posting a PER of 17.42. However, outside of Mitchell Robinson who plays just 22 minutes a night, this is New York’s highest Player Efficiency Rating.
Randle is averaging 18.6 points and 9.1 rebounds, but his defense has continued to draw criticism throughout his entire career. The Knicks have been fairly pleased with the progress of rookie RJ Barrett. The former Duke Blue Devil is No. 3 on the team in scoring at 13.7 points per game, while adding 5.2 boards and 2.6 assists per game, as well. He has the potential to be a big-time player, but it is not yet clear whether he has “Cornerstone” potential.
Robinson was expected to make a leap to that, but he really never did and has made precious little progress over his impressive rookie season last year. Bobby Portis is a model of inconsistency, but at times he looks as though he has figured it all out and is ready to take the next steps in his career— before he utterly vanishes and proceeds to lay bricks.
None of it makes sense, but that has become something of a mantra for describing the Knicks’ franchise. Career seldom blossom in New York, and with a roster so deficient in playmakers it is not hard to see why the Knicks have struggled so bad, averaging just 104.7 points per game. The Knicks average only 21.1 assists per game, and Elfrid Payton—the team’s best passer—has not been healthy for most of this season. Frank Ntilikina is still figuring things out and he is not a good scoring threat. He averages under six points per game despite 22.6 minutes per contest. There is just not a lot of hope that this Knicks team turns it around any time soon, especially since no free agents really seemed interested in donning Knicks threads, instead opting for the Brooklyn Nets (both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, that is).
Despite not being in the playoff chase, the Pelicans have reasons for optimism.
New Orleans has had some injury issues, or one major one anyway: Zion Williamson, the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft, has yet to play this season. Even without him, and with a losing record, the Pelicans have quite a few reasons to be encouraged.
Paramount in those “encouraging aspects” is one Brandon Ingram. He has nearly doubled his scoring average as a Pelican, showing all of the promises he was initially thought to have when the L.A. Lakers selected him No. 2 overall. Ingram is averaging 24.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.8 blocks/steals, and those notions of a “Next Kevin Durant,” no longer look absurd as they did during his tenure as a Laker.
Jrue Holiday has quietly been sensational, as well. He is averaging 19.6 points per game, 4.9 rebounds and 2.4 steals/blocks, making his biggest impact on the defensive end but still (clearly) scoring the ball just fine. JJ Redick stepped up with Josh Hart out due to injury, and he has assumed a much larger role in the offense since. Redick is tallying 15.4 points per game while providing valuable court spacing as he has done throughout his solid NBA career.
Hart has been a big threat on the boards at just 6’4”, averaging 5.8 rebounds per game to go with his 10.9 points per game.
Lonzo Ball has also been plenty of encouraging and exciting. He is averaging 11.8 points and 5.4 assists per game and his 2.4 A/TO ratio is solid. The Pelicans could be a major threat if Williamson returns healthy and clicking on all cylinders— the rookie looked great in the preseason, even if there is already a black cloud lingering over his career, in terms of health.