The Pelicans came into Tuesday's NBA lottery draft with just a 6 percent chance of landing the top overall selection and the right to draft Duke superstar Zion Williamson.
Now, a team on the verge of losing its franchise player in Anthony Davis and being stuck in NBA purgatory has new life.
“We had New Orleans at 300-1, but we had to move them to 25-to-1 [after winning the lottery],” said Jeff Sherman, VP of Risk Management for the Westgate SuperBook. “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.”
This, of course, comes prior to the circus that will be free agency this summer in the NBA. Kevin Durant is largely expected to leave Golden State, and the fate Kawhi Leonard has yet to be decided. Should Durant fulfill his destiny and Leonard decide to stay in the Eastern Conference, the West becomes a wide-open race in which the Pelicans will surely be contenders should Davis choose to stick it out.
The New York Knicks were the losers for the day. Part of the attraction that surrounded the Knicks this offseason was the chance of Durant pairing up with another max free agent, and Williamson in the supposed Mecca of Basketball. Now, New York will be stuck picking at the scraps left behind at the draft table by New Orleans and Memphis. In fact, Sherman at the Westgate wanted to alter the odds ever so slightly.
“I wanted to move them to 20-1 but Ed [Salmons, Westgate sportsbook manager] did not,” said Sherman.
The ramifications of the lottery are immense for New Orleans and New York, but they were not the only teams that were affected by the draft order. The Los Angeles Lakers, who had a 9.4 percent chance to land within the top 5, did just that, stealing the fourth overall selection.
“We went from 20-1 to 16-1 due to the maneuverability that comes with the fourth pick,” said Sherman “It could be a piece used in a trade to grab help for LeBron James.