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NBA DFS bubble preview: New Orleans Pelicans

With the start of the NBA Bubble right around the corner, it’s time to look at what the New Orleans Pelicans have to offer in DFS.

New Orleans Pelicans v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s been quite a—boring—ride but we’re almost there, folks. Starting July 30, the NBA will enter a vortex of daily action that will get us back to our couches to indulge as much basketball as we can with games coming left and right. With such a short time between now and the restart (and with the four months we have endured without any NBA hoops around) it makes sense to go through the 22 teams that made it to Disney’s bubble to review what they did during the first months of the 2019-20 season and what we can expect from them going forward. Consider this a primer on who to target, who to avoid, and a know-it-all reviewing exercise of what will be there when NBA DFS contests come back in less than 14 days time.

As has always been the case, I will be using data from both the official NBA website paired with information from DFS contests held on DraftKings through the first months of the season. Every chart uses the same scale (salaries from 3K to 10K except when they don’t fit, fantasy points from 0 to 65) so they can be easily compared between teams to see where each player ranks league-wide.

Regular Season Stats

  • Record: 28-36 (.438)
  • Offensive Rating: 110.8 (15th)
  • Defensive Rating: 111.6 (19th)
  • Net Rating: -0.8 (15th)

Did the NBA build the whole bubble concept of “seeding games” around the possibility of making Zion the main attraction (pun intended) in Disney? Could be the main reason for having 22 teams making it to Orlando, sure, but that’s none of my business. I’m a simple man. As long as I get to watch Zion play basketball and bulldozing his way through the court I’ll be happy, no matter the plot behind it.

After getting rid of Anthony Davis it wasn’t clear how the Pelicans would look on the court, basically because they became a watered-down version of the 2019 Lakers after that summer trade. Only they added an incredible rookie to the team in Williamson—who went on to miss a good deal of games before his debut in late January—and saw the pairing of Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram became good and great players respectively once they moved to New Orleans, leaving all drama surrounding their Los Angeles tenures behind.

While these Pels seem to be a step behind their competition, which is reasonable at this point in their development arc, they enter the bubble with chances at making it to the play-in game against the No. 8 seed if they can outperform Portland and Sacramento and keep a close gap with Memphis. What does that mean? That New Orleans will go all-in, rest nobody, and put all of their chips on the table from day one trying to get themselves in the playoffs. Fantasy players, rejoice.

Team Leaders (per game):

  • MIN: Jrue Holiday (34.9)
  • PTS: Brandon Ingram (24.3)
  • 3PM: J.J. Redick (2.9)
  • REB: Derrick Favors (9.9)
  • AST: Jrue Holiday (6.9)
  • STL: Jrue Holiday (1.7)
  • BLK: Derrick Favors (1.0)
  • TOV: Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball (3.1)
  • USG%: Zion Williamson (28.2%)
  • DKFP: Brandon Ingram (41.7)

Fantasy Profile

  • Players Acquired: Sindarius Thornwell
  • Players Lost: None

Zion has been magnificent in his 19 games as a pro, but it’s not the only weapon New Orleans has unveiled and used this season. Far from it. The Pelicans have been a very balanced team with four players averaging more than 34 DKFP over the season and none of them priced at even $8K. That’s nice to hear.

If you check the list of team leaders for the different statistical categories you’ll see how everything has been very well shared between different players. Zo, Jrue, and Ingram logged the most minutes and the latter two have been the primary finishers. The former two have similar dimes and steals numbers, while five players are grabbing more than six boards per game, and four guys are hitting over two treys per contest.

When it comes to pure fantasy numbers, you’d think of both Ingram and Zion as the go-to DFS picks stuck in New Orleans’ roster. Watch out for other names much more valuable than those two, though. Lonzo Ball has the second-highest ROI (Price/DKFP) among NBA players this season only behind Damian Lillard. That’s incredible. Ingram is second in ROI among Pels, sure, but Jrue Holiday is way above Zion in the ranks. I for one think Williamson is a beast and mostly won’t let you down, but keep in mind he’s been on a minute-restriction through his first games and with New Orleans not truly playing for anything here it might look into not forcing anyone this summer and opt to rather build slowly toward a stronger push next year, lowering the Pels players fantasy upside.