Pelicans & NBA Basketball

Vegas oddsmakers embrace Pelicans with Zion Williamson likely landing in New Orleans

Oddsmakers acted quickly and aggressively to this week’s news that the New Orleans Pelicans had won the #1 pick in the NBA’s draft lottery.

Jeff Sherman, VP of Risk Management for the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas told VSiN’s Jonathan Von Tobel, “We had New Orleans at 300-1, but we had to move them to 25-to-1. The potential of the team if Anthony Davis stays and Zion Williamson is drafted with the top pick is huge. They already have good pieces.”

Raw percentages aren’t quite as dramatic. New Orleans basically went from having less than a 1% chance to win the NBA title (a third of a percentage point) to a 4% chance of throwing a championship parade. If you’re not into math, the Pellies went from “no chance” to “a small chance.”

That said, the Westgate still sees New Orleans as an attractive betting choice it must defend against. That 25/1 price is the same as the Denver Nuggets (#2 seed in the West) and the Oklahoma City Thunder (#6 seed), and better than the 40/1 currently on the board for Portland (#3 seed), Utah (#5 seed), and San Antonio (#7 seed).

At the top of the ladder, Golden State is +175 to win the 2019-20 title (1.75/1), while Milwaukee is 9/2.

NBA futures prices could be very fluid this summer because of all the anticipated free agency and draft drama. That plus added competition among sports books in a time of increased media coverage has created a need to be part of the news mix. Line moves create publicity.

VSiN looks forward to covering developments for you from now through the build-up to the new season. Are the Pelicans already a “playoff caliber” team with Zion Williamson and Anthony Davis? What kind of puzzle pieces might Davis bring if he’s traded to a contender with resources? In pro sports, every major story is now a major betting story too.

For all involved, covering the New Orleans Pelicans will be a lot more fun this year than it was last year!

Other Notes

Of course, we still have games going on in the current NBA postseason. Sharps (professional wagerers) are aware that home teams in Game Three often get a huge boost from boisterous crowds. That could influence betting action in Saturday night’s Golden State/Portland matchup (ESPN, 8 p.m.), and Sunday evening’s Milwaukee/Toronto tussle (TNT, 6 p.m.).

Both series are on “every-other-day” schedules from now to completion. We’ll get caught up on conference championship developments in our Thursday report.

It’s a huge baseball weekend in the American League, with two potential playoff pairings on the diamond. The Tampa Bay Rays visit the New York Yankees (Saturday, MLB Network, 12:05 p.m.) while the Houston Astros battle the Boston Red Sox in a rematch of last season’s American League Championship series (Sunday, MLB Network, 12:05 p.m.)

The TV schedule is loaded, as this is also the first week of over-the-air live prime time Saturday broadcasts on FOX.

We haven’t had a chance to look at MLB divisional races from a market perspective yet in our overage. These odds are from William Hill…

AL East: NY Yankees 6/5, Tampa Bay 7/4, Boston 12/5, Toronto 200/1, Baltimore 500/1.

AL Central: Minnesota -160 (5/8), Cleveland 11/10, Detroit 75/1, Chicago White Sox 75/1, Kansas City 500/1.

AL West: Houston -900 (1/9), Seattle 10/1, Los Angeles Angels 15/1, Oakland 20/1, Texas 50/1.

NL East: Philadelphia 5/4, Atlanta 13/5, New York Mets 3/1, Washington 6/1, Miami 2000/1.

NL Central: Chicago Cubs 8/5, Milwaukee 2/1, St. Louis 2/1, Pittsburgh 18/1, Cincinnati 40/1.

NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers -750 (2/15), Arizona 9/1, San Diego 10/1, Colorado 25/1, San Francisco 125/1.

It’s already time for the second jewel in horse racing’s Triple Crown. The Preakness is scheduled to start at 5:48 p.m. Saturday (NBC).

Improbable was listed as the favorite in the 13-horse field at 5/2 after getting slotted fourth from the rail in Wednesday’s draw. War of Will (4/1 out of post position #1), Anothertwistafate (6/1 out of slot #12), and Alwaysmining (8/1 from the #7 hole right in the middle of the starting gate) are other popular betting choices.

Bettors up!

Jeff Fogle writes the daily VSiN newsletter. Sign up at