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The New Orleans Pelicans are 23-32 and sit in 11th place in the Western Conference, but the future couldn’t be brighter for their young core.

New Orleans Pelicans

The Los Angeles Lakers (25-28) and New Orleans Pelicans (26-27) meet Saturday at Smoothie King Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET (ESPN2). Below, we analyze Tampico Sportsbook’s lines around the Lakers vs. New Orleans Pelicans odds, and make our expert NBA picks and predictions.

The Lakers failed to cover the spread as 2.5-point favorites Thursday in a 112-111 road win against the Indiana Pacers. C Anthony Davis finished with 31 points and 14 rebounds, both game highs, as Los Angeles came back from a 14-point 4th-quarter deficit. The Lakers are 4-0 against the spread (ATS) in their last 4 games after failing to cover in their previous contest.

The New Orleans Pelicans failed to cover as 4.5-point underdogs Thursday in a 111-106 road loss against the Dallas Mavericks. F Brandon Ingram scored a team-high 26 points as New Orleans Pelicans lost its 10th straight game. The New Orleans Pelicans are 7-3 ATS vs. the Lakers in their last 10 meetings in New Orleans.

This is the 2nd meeting between the Lakers and Pelicans this season. In the 1st meeting on Nov. 2, the Lakers covered as 2.5-point home underdogs in a 120-117 overtime win.

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The Winning Recipe: How The Small-Market New Orleans Pelicans Became Legit Title Contenders

New Orleans Pelicans
Brandon Ingram (14), Jose Alvarado (15) and Trey Murphy III (25) of the New Orleans Pelicans celebrate a win over the LA Clippers earlier this year. Photograph: Harry How/Getty Images

Even with the New Orleans Pelicans having perched themselves at or near the top of the Western Conference all year, many don’t seem to take them seriously as contenders. It’s time for that to change

Alot has been made over the years of the raw deal offered to small-market NBA teams. The younger brothers of the league, they often get overlooked in favor of their flashier coastal franchise siblings. While I’ve always argued that a competent front office is the tried and true salve for this issue, as evidenced by Giannis Antetokoumpo’s loyalty (and delivery of a championship) to the Milwaukee Bucks, it’s verifiable that as far as national media coverage goes, smaller-name teams often don’t get their due.

One such team is the New Orleans Pelicans. I mentioned in my end-of-season wrap in June that I believed the future to be decidedly bright in Louisiana. With Zion’s long-awaited return to form on the court having even exceeded expectations so far, that looks to have been a sound prediction. But even with the team having perched themselves at or near the top of the Western Conference standings all year, many don’t seem to take them seriously as contenders. While, yes, the team hasn’t historically made much noise in the postseason, and doesn’t currently boast any NBA champions on its roster, there’s more than enough reason to believe that Nola won’t have to wait long to bring a Larry O’Brien to Bourbon Street. And that’s because of one simple fact: they already have all the ingredients that go into the recipe of a champion.

One Or Two Superstars

The word “superstar” is polarizing. You’d be just as hard-pressed to find a definition for it that’s universally agreed upon as you’d be to settle upon a unanimous single player to win the “greatest of all time” argument. My personal definition, though, is someone who could reasonably be expected to be the best player on a championship contending team. And New Orleans, arguably, has two of them. The hype around Zion Williamson coming out of Duke (and even, before that, coming out of high school) was so feverish, it’s sort of unbelievable that he might end up being as good as people posited that he would be. But between his imposing frame and ever-escalating skill, it’s starting to seem a likelihood that Williamson will meet or exceed those expectations on his way to an MVP trophy or two in his time. Brandon Ingram, while currently injured, is another unique star player who’s shown that he can handle both a heavy offensive load and the bright lights of the postseason, and whose rare combination of height and skill has elicited warranted comparisons to a young Kevin Durant.

 

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